By Darren Hong
TL;DR table at the bottom.
After seeing tons of advertisements for sports drinks, you may be tempted to buy some to quench your own thirst. But before you do, check out this guide to choosing the best sports drink!
To start off, we need to figure out what sports drinks are supposed to help you with. Generally, the purpose of sports drinks is to replace glucose, fluids, and electrolytes and help enhance endurance during your workout. Based on this, we will rank each drink based on the amount of glucose and electrolytes per ounce and their price points.
First, we have Gatorade, a fan favorite and the most popular sports drink, taking up a 67.7% market share. For a single bottle 20oz bottle, it contains 140 calories. More importantly, it has 270 mg and 80 mg of sodium and potassium respectively. While having such high amounts of electrolytes is a significant upside, the 34 grams of sugar may have you reconsidering making this your primary beverage during workouts. With a price point of $6.67 for an 8-pack of Gatorade ($0.05/oz), Gatorade receives an overall score of B+.
The runner-up in the market is Powerade. The shared suffix of -ade is a clear attempt to become a Gatorade wannabe. Comparing another 20oz bottle, it also contains 140 calories, along with 250mg of sodium, 60mg of potassium, and 35 grams of sugar. With a dropoff of 20mg on both sodium and potassium and the same amount of added sugar as Gatorade, you may be scratching Powerade off your list. However, the price point of $5.13 ($0.04/oz) and the added vitamins B3, B6, B12 may have you reconsidering. Overall, Powerade receives a B- as the cheaper alternative to Gatorade as well as the inclusion of vitamins (as well as trying to attempt to pass itself off as Gatorade with its name).
Finally, the underdog of sports drinks, a relatively unknown brand called Body Armor. Sporting 120 calories, 40mg sodium, and 700mg potassium per 16oz bottle. If the drink were sold in 20oz bottles, there would be 150 calories, 50mg sodium, and 875mg of potassium. The obvious benefit is the amount of potassium, which comes from the coconut water concentrate. Additionally, Body Armor contains no sugar. However, the price point of $1.44 per bottle ($0.09/oz) is offputting. The creators of the drink tried to make up for it by including vitamins A, E, C, B6, and B12. Being more vitamin than drink, it seems clear now why this brand has remained relatively unknown. Overall, Body Armor’s sports drinks are C-, for both the increase in price and lack of larger bottle options. Even though Body Armor has no sugar, Gatorade and Powerade both have 0 calories versions of their products. Unless you are lacking in potassium-rich foods in your diet (such as potatoes, beans, avocados, bananas, oranges, and tomatoes), you are much better off with one of the other options.
To round things up, The overall winner of the sports drink category is Gatorade for single packs, due to their amount of electrolytes and price points. However, Powerade is a close alternative, especially if you are trying to buy drinks in bulk with its lower $/oz ratio. The last option is Body Armor, as it lacks in everything except vitamins.
Only available as 16oz bottles.
Most potassium and vitamins.
Based on 20oz servings.