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Is Gatorade Zero Healthy? Nutrition Facts, Label, Ingredients
Nutrition

Is Gatorade Zero Healthy? Nutrition Facts, Label, Ingredients

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on 2022 September 22
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8 min

Advertised for its “Zero Sugar Hydration,” Gatorade Zero is a popular brand of sports drinks for many. However, is the product really as good for you as marketed by the sports drink industry?

is gatorade zero healthy
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A sports drink often contains high amounts of sugar, including the fan-favorite Gatorade drinks. However, Gatorade Zero aims to provide thirst-quenching effects with zero grams of sugar.

With only up to 5 calories and 2 grams of carbohydrates in a single-serving powder packet or individual-size bottle, is this product too good to be true? What about the artificial sweeteners it contains?

Is Gatorade Zero healthy? Read on to learn more!

Is Gatorade Zero Healthy?

Gatorade Zero is a healthy alternative to a regular sports drink that is often high in sugar. When you drink Gatorade Zero, it helps replenish electrolytes lost during exercise or from vomiting or diarrhea.

Gatorade Zero Ingredients

Let’s take a deeper dive into the ingredients of Gatorade Zero, including artificial sweeteners, artificial food dyes, and more. It is important to note that the ingredients vary slightly based on the flavor of the beverage. For reference, we will be discussing the ingredients of the orange Gatorade Zero.

Citric acid

Citric acid can naturally be found in citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits, and lemons. However, there is also a manufactured variety that is used in food produced.

This additive has a tart and citrusy taste that many enjoy. It is a safe additive that is used in many beverages and foods that are processed and manufactured.

In terms of safety, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes citric acid as GRAS, or “Generally Recognized As Safe.”

GRAS means that this additive is safe for everyone to consume in regular amounts. Of course, this does not guarantee safety when something is eaten in excessive, very large amounts.

There may even be some health benefits of citric acid. For instance, a study published in the journal Food Science and Technology Research found that citrus fruits containing citric acid helped individuals better absorb the mineral calcium from foods in their diet.

Sucrose acetate isobutyrate

Sucrose acetate isobutyrate is a derivative of sugar or sucrose that is used to make the beverage at the correct density, according to the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology.

Salt

Gatorade drinks contain sodium or salt because it is an electrolyte that can help move water to better hydrate the body. This is especially important for someone who has lost a lot of water, either through sweating or diarrhea and vomiting.

However, if you have not lost water through sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting, it is best to stick with regular water since sodium can contribute to high blood pressure.

Sucralose

Since Gatorade Zero is sugar-free, it contains sucralose. 

Sucralose is an artificial sweetener or non-nutritive sweetener that is zero-calorie. It is more commonly known on the market as Splenda.

While recognized by the FDA as safe, research has conflicting views about artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose, and their impact on weight loss and potential weight gain.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, some studies have shown that the use of artificial sugars can cause a very small amount of weight loss, but more studies show that participants experienced some weight gain.

This may be because sucralose is much sweeter than real sugar. Therefore, drinking Gatorade can cause changes in your taste palette, making regular sugar, when you consume a dessert, for example, less satisfying.

Acesulfame potassium and Monopotassium phosphate

Potassium is another electrolyte that is commonly included in sports drinks. This is because it helps to increase the absorption of water and promotes adequate hydration.

Yellow 6

Yellow 6 is a color additive that gives orange-flavored Gatorade Zero its signature color profile. In the United States, color additives used for food purposes are regulated by the FDA.

While they ensure that each approved color additive has a “reasonable certainty of no harm,” there is always the possibility of a reaction or health risks, though very unlikely.

Other flavors and colors of Gatorade Zero and regular Gatorade may have other food dyes as well.

Gatorade also contains natural flavor.

3 Side Effects of Gatorade Zero 

Before we dive into the nutrition information for Gatorade Zero, let’s talk about some potential side effects related to sucralose content.

#1 Disruption of the gut microbiome

Additionally, the Cleveland Clinic discusses how artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose in Gatorade Zero, have been shown to disrupt the gut microbiome in animal models.

The gut microbiome is the community of bacteria – both healthy and unhealthy varieties – that live inside the human gastrointestinal tract. 

A healthy balance of bacteria in the gut microbiome can contribute to lowered inflammation in the body, which also decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, and other inflammation-related disease states.

Unfortunately, artificial sweeteners can disrupt the natural and healthy balance in the gut microbiome and may potentially increase the risk for inflammation.

#2 Potential effect on glucose metabolism

According to the journal Nutrition Reviews, artificial sweeteners such as sucralose have conflicting information in the research literature about whether or not they affect insulin and glucose metabolism. 

Nutrition Reviews mentions one study that showed higher glucose concentrations in the blood after consuming sucralose. 

However, more research needs to be done to continue to examine the relationship between the consumption of artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes on glucose metabolism in the body. 

#3 Much sweeter than sugar-sweetened beverages

Based on the data provided by Profiles of Drug Substances, Excipients, and Related Methodology, sucralose is an artificial sweetener that is actually a whopping 600 times sweeter than regular sugar. 

Therefore, if your taste palette gets used to consuming such an intensely sweet product, you may begin to think regular sugar is not as sweet.

Now, you may be less satisfied with a cup of fruit juice, for example, because it is no longer sweet enough for your taste preferences. Therefore, rather than treating artificial sweeteners as a free pass, consider their health and taste effects as well. 

Gatorade Zero Nutrition Facts

Since we have covered the ingredients in Gatorade Zero, such as food dyes and artificial sweeteners, let’s break down the nutrition facts based on a bottle of Glacier Berry Gatorade Zero.

Nutrition table (per 100g)

Calories/Nutrient (per 100g)Amount
Calories (kcal)0
Sodium (mg)160
Net Carbs (g)Less than 1
Fiber (g)0
Sugar (g)0
Fats (Total)0
Protein (g)0
Potassium (mg)50
Cholesterol (mg)0

Source: https://www.gatorade.com/fuel/hydration/gatorade-zero/bottle/glacier-cherry

Low in fats and calories

Gatorade Zero is completely free of fats and calories, which are some of the main appeals of the product. Compared to 80 calories in a 12oz serving of the Fruit Punch flavored Gatorade Thirst Quencher, Gatorade Zero has zero calories with the same amount of electrolytes.

Low in carbohydrates

Gatorade Zero is essentially sugar-free and carbohydrate-free, with a 12oz serving containing less than one gram. For comparison, the regular Gatorade, Fruit Punch Thirst Quencher, contains 22g of carbs in a 12oz serving.

However, if you drink Gatorade Zero as a sports drink, carbohydrates and sugars are actually very important to recovery as they replenish the stored sugar in the body that was just used up for energy.

A moderate amount of sodium

While Gatorade Zero does contain a moderate amount of sodium, this sodium can play a crucial and beneficial function in helping hydrate you after an intense workout or after getting sick and experiencing diarrhea or vomiting.

A 12oz bottle contains 160mg of sodium along with 50mg of potassium.

However, too much sodium can contribute to high blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 2,300mg of sodium daily (1,500mg maximum is even more ideal). 

Very high amounts of artificial sweeteners

Gatorade is sweetened with sucralose, or Splenda, and is therefore considered to be a sugar-free sports drink. As mentioned previously, there are both pros and cons of consuming artificial sweeteners.

On the one hand, artificial sweeteners can replace calories and sugar that could otherwise promote weight gain, obesity, and even diabetes. However, artificial sweeteners also have their own potential downsides that should be considered.

Even though Gatorade Zero is calorie-free and sugar-free, it should not be consumed in excessive and extremely large amounts. 

FAQs

Does Gatorade Zero have caffeine?

Since Gatorade Zero is a sports drink and not a brand of energy drinks, it is a caffeine-free sports drink.

Is Gatorade Zero good for weight loss?

Gatorade Zero is good for weight loss because it is extremely low in carbohydrates, fat, and calories. However, excessive amounts of Gatorade Zero, especially without exercise, can cause water retention and weight gain due to the high sodium content.

Does Gatorade Zero have sugar?

Gatorade Zero does not contain any added or natural sugars, while the regular Gatorade can have about 21g of sugar.

Does Gatorade Zero have artificial sweeteners?

Gatorade Zero does have the artificial sweetener sucralose. Sucralose is a zero-calorie sweetener that is commonly referred to as Splenda.

Does Gatorade Zero have electrolytes?

Gatorade Zero contains the electrolytes sodium and potassium. A single-serving packet of the Fruit Punch flavor contains 230mg of sodium and 70mg of potassium.

Is Gatorade Zero better than soda?

Overall, Gatorade Zero is a better option than soda because soda is high in calories and sugar, which can cause weight gain and increase the risk of diabetes. However, Gatorade Zero contains electrolytes that should not be consumed in excess.

A Word From a Nutritionist

Overall, Gatorade Zero is a great way to replenish electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, that are lost after intense physical activity, especially in the heat.

The Harvard University School of Public Health recommends only drinking Gatorade or consuming a sports drink, such as Gatorade or Gatorade Zero, if you exercise vigorously for over an hour, especially when you sweat a lot.

Otherwise, if you work out for less than an hour, simply consuming adequate amounts of regular water is sufficient to hydrate after a workout or at any time and sports drinks are not necessary.

Consuming a balanced and healthy diet can help to ensure you are recovering well after an exercise routine or workout.

Additionally, Gatorade Zero can be a great option to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes from diarrhea or vomiting.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Gatorade Zero is a great option for those who are looking to support recovery after exercise or after diarrhea or vomiting without adding a lot of excess sugar.

Gatorade Zero is very low in calories and carbohydrates but still contains electrolytes to replenish what is lost in sweat during physical activity.

However, it is important to emphasize that if you do not drink Gatorade Zero to replenish electrolytes after exercise and are simply using Gatorade Zero as a low-sugar alternative to soda or other sugary drinks, it should be avoided.

In other words, Avoid drinking sports drinks or sugar-free sports drinks when not indicated.

Avoid excess amounts of Gatorade Zero unless it is needed from exercise or fluid loss (diarrhea or vomiting) because it is high in electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium. Excess sodium can contribute to elevated blood pressure and increased risk of heart disease.

Overall, consume Gatorade when you need electrolytes, and otherwise, stick with water.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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