When it comes to hydration and replenishment, two names stand out - Pedialyte and Gatorade. You may have heard people swearing by them at the gym or even your neighbor's kid sipping on one after a long night of partying. But are they really the same? Or is there more than what meets the tongue? We dive deep into Pedialyte vs Gatorade in this article.
The origins of both these drinks are quite different. While you may think that they were born as overlapping products in some R&D lab, but each has its own peculiar history.
Pedialyte was first formulated to help kids who had lost fluids due to diarrhea which could be fatal if left untreated(1). Hence it was marketed primarily as an oral rehydration solution(ORS) for infants and children dealing with vomiting and dehydration caused due to various illnesses.
In 2000, Pedialyte launched their sports drink variant named "Pediasport" for young athletes who needed electrolyte replacement during intense physical activity(2)
Did you know that scientists from University of Florida invented gatorade specifically for their football team?(3) That's correct! Earlier, players used raw eggs before games!
But why create such a drink? While practicing in sweltering heat prior to competing in the Orange Bowl against Georgia Tech, Coach Ray Graves had poached chicken served with mashed potatoes & gravy prepared remotely (in Key West.), shipped via Greyhound Bus just hours before gametime.
Unfortunately, many player got sick because food turned sour while being transported so Graves began asking doctors how he could keep his players hydrated properly without making them vomit up vital nutrients. Enter Dr Robert Cade.
Graves contacted Robert Cade,a renal specialist who worked with him previously in the treatment of the kidney disease, Berger's. Cade lead a team to create a drink that would replace key fluids and electrolytes fighters lose during intense physical activity.
The scientific concoction was born! It originally came in one flavor (lemon-lime) and provided crucial hydration for Florida Gators football players over four decades ago (4).
Let’s break down each drink by their composition - What exactly makes all hydrating magic happen?
Pedialyte is considered an oral rehydration solution or ORS, which contains precisely balanced electrolytes,sugars,& water.
It has replaced lost fluids & Electrolyte needed for proper body function(1). The balance between Sodium, Potassium& Glucose is maintained as per recommendations from World Health Organization(6).
Pedialyte doesn't have artificial sweeteners/colors/flavorings save for grape flavored products.(Pale green /Yellow/Lemon-Lime/Unflavored available)
In contrast to Pedialyte,Gatorade’s formula has been modified significantly since its origin while still aiming towards providing hydration. Gatorade contains added sugars, artificial colorants/flavors/additives along with Maltodextrin(powder form carbohydrate source).
It provides safe level amounts of carbohydrates/sodium/potassium/electrolytes/etc.
Trade Secrets prevent me from saying anything more about the ingredients... Ssshhh (5)!
So on surface level, it might seem like both drinks are similar but when you dig deeper into what they really contain; subtle differences appear.
Range of Products
Both brands offer several different types of hydrate ranging from single-use packet to family-size tubs:
We take a look at some popular variants:
|Freezer Pop||Assorted||G2 Light||Lemon-Lime|
|Drops||Assorted||Zero Calorie||Fruit Punch|
Pedialyte has been long associated with children; while Gatorade is mostly used by adults specifically for exercise.
Although Pediasport was marketed towards young athletes, it hasn't really caught on yet or received much endorsement from already existing sports drink gods like Gatorade & Powerade.
Many athletes would run to lemon-lime float power(containing sugar similar to gatorades) instead of opting for a more medical-tasting pedialyte post-workout or after games(6).
Gatorade’s original formula gives it an edge in providing just enough carbohydrates and electrolytes which help prevent stress fractures, muscle cramps, dehydration symptoms in general after high-intensity physical activity (7).
While the benefits may vary as per consumption type,chugging down thick colored liquid/droplets/freezing pops doesn't sound particularly pleasant.
However,Grape flavored Pedialytes have earned comments that they're not sickly sweet,and does not contain any odd aftertaste.Just how Americans prefer their snacks,Pedialyates are now available in flavors like raspberry-blueberry,Orange... but grape still seems preferred.(8)(9)
On the other hand,gators come outta murky water species native to southern US(Is that why its made there?).I absolutely loathe drinking this stuff personally.Its sharp/sweetand leaves a traditional sports drink-ish lingering taste.
To sum up,We can say both drinks serve different purpose.Despite having some similarities (Electrolyte balance),but composition differs significantly!
Ultimately,personal preference plays a major role here. While pedialyte is less flashy,consumers are shifting towards preferring products with non-artificial ingredients & low sugar content.
Gatorade however seems to hold strong in its postion as the go-to for athletes thanks to it refined formulas and after strenuous workout beverage reputation. However,also keep in mind while high voltage 8 mile style workouts require fuel Gatorade provides, other healthier alternatives like plain water or beverages like coconut water may substitute for everyday light-mid level workouts. Fitness gurus say “ Less artificial=Less problems”. (10)
So whether you choose Pedialyte or gatorade comes down to what hydrating benefits mean most to you,but of course Both are liquids that quench your thirst! So long but not really farewell as we sign off on this journey!!
6.Garcia-Rodenas CL, Berglund S.K., Morales E., Lozano A.Evidence based oral rehydration therapy.Non-appropriated commercial product realization according WHO.Rev Med Inst Mex Seguro Soc. NCBI
7.Murray and Lorenzo,J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2006; 3(1): 1–7.