Gatorade vs. Pedialyte – What Really Are the Differences?

Both Gatorade and Pedialyte aid dehydration. Our body rapidly loses water when we are sick, working out, or worse, not drinking enough water throughout the day (why would you do that yourself?).

gatorade vs pedialyte

Drinks like Gatorade and Pedialyte are specially formulated to replenish the fluid and electrolytes lost through excessive sweating during physical exertion or due to severe diarrhea or/and vomiting.

Even though both drinks are designed to serve the same purpose, there are a few factors that make each one better suited for a certain demographic than the other.

Let’s elaborate more on that.

Electrolyte Content

Electrolytes not only aid hydration but also regulate pH balance and muscle contractions. When our body runs low on electrolytes after intense physical activity or due to stomach flu, it can lead to muscle cramping, twitching, convulsions, dizziness, brain fog, and weakness.

Rehydration drinks like Pedialyte and Gatorade are packed with electrolytes e.g sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphate.

Pedialyte which is an ORS (Oral Rehydration Solution) contains 2-3x more electrolytes than Gatorade. Therefore, it will be much more effective at reversing and treating severe dehydration caused by diarrhea, vomiting, or any illness.

One standard 12 oz. serving of Pedialyte Classic contains 370 mg of sodium and 280 mg of potassium. Some versions of Pedialyte drinks including the Classic are fortified with Zinc to strengthen the immune system.

While Gatorade is also enhanced with sodium and potassium, it is not the same as ORS which is formulated with a very specific combination of salt, sugar, and potassium to treat dehydration.

Gatorade Thirst Quencher has 160 mg of sodium and 50 mg of potassium per serving. The G Endurance is the more electrolyte-rich version providing 310 mg sodium and 140 mg potassium along with 10 mg calcium with each serving.

Gatorade is a sports drink designed to rapidly replace fluids and electrolytes losses and give athletes energy and stamina boost during and after intense training sessions.

For a light to moderate workout that lasts less than an hour, the good old-fashioned water will do the trick. Replacing Gatorade with water makes sense only if you’re performing heavy workouts that last for more than an hour.

Sugar Content

Gatorade Thirst Quencher contains a lot more sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup (21 grams per 12 ounce serving) than Pedialyte which can be beneficial for endurance athletes. As such, the high sugar content can effectively replenish muscle glycogen stores (aka stored carbs) which could help you immediately refuel mid and post-workout.

Pedialyte Classic has about 9 grams of sugar (dextrose) per serving which is significantly less than Gatorade. This makes it a more suitable cure for illness and hangover-induced dehydration.

Moreover, the daily consumption of high amounts of sugar can lead to a host of health problems. So unless you’re engaging in strenuous physical activity that lasts for more than an hour, better stick to Pedialyte or plain water. Else, go for the sugar-free version of Gatorade if you are that crazy about the taste.

Carbohydrates

Gatorade provides a good dose of carbohydrates as well (22 grams per serving) which is helpful for immediate rehydration and refueling after a mad workout sesh. However, high carb content can make diarrhea worse by increasing water flow in the intestines.

Pedialyte Advanced Care, with only 6 grams of carbs per serving is a much safer and healthier alternative to diarrhea patients. The low carb content of Pedialyte makes it a poor choice for serious athletes who need a quick energy and endurance boost for improved performance.

Which One Hydrates You Better?

If your sole purpose is fluid replenishment – Pedialyte, with its high electrolyte and low sugar/carb content is definitely a better choice than Gatorade.

That said, it’s not for nothing that Gatorade is one of the top sports drink brands in the world. Extended periods of heavy physical activity can quickly burn off all the sugar and carbs and turn them into energy which should theoretically result in improved stamina and performance.

In Conclusion

Choose Pedialyte if you need to quickly replenish fluid and electrolyte loss caused by stomach flu or any other illness. It’s essentially an ORS which makes it a safe rehydration drink for toddlers as well as elderly people.

On the other hand, Gatorade is a fantastic sports drink that offers quick replenishment and enhanced athletic performance during and after prolonged workout sessions.

Don’t forget that sugary sports drinks like Gatorade can lead to complex issues like blood sugar spikes and obesity if consumed regularly after a low to moderate workout.

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