17 Best Gatorade Substitutes


A big part of my job as a nutrition coach is to help athletes develop a proper hydration strategy, and this always turns into a conversation about Gatorade. Gatorade is a fine product, but there are many alternatives available that are better in different situations.

So, what are the best Gatorade substitutes? The best Gatorade substitutes are Nuun Endurance and Tailwind Endurance Fuel as they are high in electrolytes but have less sugar than Gatorade. Like Gatorade, these products can be taken during or after exercise to help you recover and improve your performance.

Below, I’ll discuss why you should consider a Gatorade alternative, as well as my complete list of 17 substitutes for Gatorade, including natural alternatives, cheaper alternatives, and homemade options.  

Why You Should Consider A Gatorade Alternative (4 Reasons)

Gatorade is a great product for the right person at the right time, but it’s not for everyone. 

There are four main reasons why you may want to look for a Gatorade alternative:

  • Gatorade is high in sugar
  • Gatorade is high in calories
  • Gatorade does not have caffeine
  • Gatorade is a processed food product

Let’s discuss each of these further. 

Gatorade on the shelf.
Gatorade varieties on the shelf.

Gatorade Is High In Sugar

By design, Gatorade contains a lot of sugar – about as much as a soda. 

This sugar provides plenty of readily available carbohydrates to fuel exercise, but not everyone needs or wants all that sugar all the time. 

This is why Gatorade alternatives with all the electrolytes but far less sugar are becoming more popular.

Gatorade Is High In Calories

If you are carefully tracking calories, or prefer to get most of your calories from whole food sources, a low-calorie or calorie-free Gatorade alternative can be a great option for staying hydrated during intense or prolonged exercise.

Gatorade Is Non-Caffeinated

Though Gatorade is full of sugar that can be quickly absorbed and used to fuel exercise, it does not offer the same energizing benefits that other caffeine-containing alternatives provide. 

As caffeine has consistently been shown to improve exercise performance, a caffeinated Gatorade alternative can make a lot of sense.

Gatorade Is A Processed Food Product

If you prefer to avoid processed foods, you may want to look for a natural Gatorade alternative rather than the other highly-processed sports drinks available. 

Staying hydrated doesn’t mean you must consume artificial flavors, colors, or dyes. There are natural Gatorade alternatives that are free of any such additives.

Gatorade nutrition label
Gatorade nutrition label.

What To Look For In A Gatorade Substitute

There are four things to look for when choosing a Gatorade alternative:

Sugar Content

The first thing to consider when choosing a Gatorade alternative is how much sugar you want in your sports drink. Sports drinks with sugar help replenish glycogen as you burn it, but that’s not always needed.

A 20 oz bottle of Gatorade contains 48g of sugar, which is the same amount found in some cans of soda. These sugars provide plenty of fuel for physical activity lasting longer than 70 minutes, but they are unnecessary in many situations.

If you’re trying to lose weight, working out for less than an hour, and/or prefer to get your calories from whole food sources, sugar-free Gatorade alternatives can help you stay hydrated without adding sugar and calories.

Be sure to look at the sugar content of any Gatorade substitute you’re thinking of trying and use a nutrition tracking app like Lifesum to monitor your daily intake.  

Electrolyte Content

The main benefit of a sports drink is to help you stay hydrated. This requires both water and electrolytes as you lose electrolytes through your sweat.

Electrolytes are minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, and magnesium. 

They’re critical to helping maintain the body’s fluid balance, regulate muscle contractions, and transmit nerve impulses.

Replacing electrolytes after you sweat helps you recover and maintain athletic performance.

Before deciding on a Gatorade substitute, be sure to research its electrolyte content – sodium is the most important electrolyte to replace during (or after) extended intense exercise.

gatorade substitute with sugar
Gatorade Substitute.

Caffeine Content

When picking a Gatorade alternative, you should consider whether or not you want something caffeinated. As caffeine has been shown to improve exercise performance, a caffeinated sports drink can be an attractive option, but it is not suitable for every situation.

While I occasionally give my nephews a sports drink to keep them hydrated during tournaments, I wouldn’t give them something caffeinated.

However, if you’re an adult, and training/competing for an extended period (i.e. over an hour), caffeine can significantly improve your time to exhaustion. Choosing a Gatorade alternative with added caffeine in these situations can be a good choice.

Sweetener

There are many different sweeteners used in sports drinks, both natural and artificial. If you have a preference or allergy, it’s important to know what your drink of choice is sweetened with.

An 828ml bottle of Gatorade contains 48g of sugar. This isn’t necessarily good or bad, but you should know what you’re about to consume before doing so.

As sports drink sweeteners range from cane sugar and dextrose to zero-calorie sweeteners like stevia and sucralose, you have many options when it comes to the type and amount of sweetener in your sports drink.

Substitutes For Gatorade: 17 Options

I’ve broken the Gatorade alternatives into the following categories: 

  • Sports Drink Alternatives To Gatorade 
  • Caffeinated Alternatives To Gatorade 
  • No Sugar Alternatives To Gatorade
  • Natural Alternatives To Gatorade 
  • Homemade Alternatives To Gatorade 

Sports Drink Gatorade Alternatives

Sports drinks come in both liquid and ready-to-mix powder or tablet form and are specifically formulated, like Gatorade, to replace carbohydrates and/or electrolytes lost during physical activity.

 1. Nuun Endurance

Nutrition Information One 828ml bottle of Gatorade Thirst Quencher One 19g scoop of Nuun Endurance
Calories 190 60
Carbohydrates 51g 16g
Sodium 380mg 380mg
Potassium 110mg 200mg
Magnesium 8mg 20mg

Nuun Endurance is a powdered carbohydrate and electrolyte supplement that makes an excellent sports drink when mixed with water. 

It is very high in sodium (380mg), potassium (200mg), and magnesium (20mg). 

Though it is sweetened with cane sugar and dextrose, Nuun Endurance is low in calories compared to Gatorade (60 calories in Nuun vs 190 in Gatorade). 

If you are doing a long, slow endurance activity such as hiking or biking, your body will be burning mostly body fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates, but you’ll still be sweating a lot.

It is during these types of sessions that Nuun Endurance shines as it will replace the electrolytes lost through your sweat without forcing you to consume unnecessary carbohydrates.

 2. Tailwind Endurance Fuel

Nutrition Information One 828ml bottle of Gatorade Thirst Quencher One 27g scoop of Tailwind Endurance Fuel
Calories 190 100
Carbohydrates 51g 25g
Sodium 380mg 310mg
Potassium 110mg 90mg
Magnesium 8mg 12mg

Tailwind Endurance Fuel is a powder you add to water to create a Gatorade alternative that is high in electrolytes (310mg sodium, 90mg potassium, and 12mg magnesium) and provides 100 calories in the form of carbohydrates. 

Sweetened with dextrose and sucrose (table sugar), Tailwind Endurance Fuel contains roughly half the calorie and sugar content of Gatorade (100 calories and 25g vs 190 calories and 48g carbs). 

If you find Gatorade’s sweetness overpowering and can get by with half the calories, the lighter Tailwind Endurance Fuel may be a better option.

Powerade sports drink
Gatorade Substitute – Powerade.

3. Powerade

Nutrition Information One 828ml bottle of Gatorade Thirst Quencher One 900ml bottle of Powerade
Calories 190 200
Carbohydrates 51g 53g
Sodium 380mg 375mg
Potassium 110mg 0mg
Magnesium 8mg 0mg

Powerade is the most similar Gatorade alternative available. Powerade contains nearly an identical amount of calories (200 vs 190), carbohydrates (53g vs 51g), and sodium (375mg vs 380 mg) as Gatorade. 

Unlike Gatorade, which is sweetened with plain sugar, Powerade is sweetened with high-fructose corn-syrup. 

Due to the minimal amounts of potassium and magnesium in Powerade, I recommend Gatorade over Powerade to my clients.

4. Vitamin Water Refresh

Nutrition Information One 828ml bottle of Gatorade Thirst Quencher One 591ml bottle of Vitamin Water Refresh
Calories 190 100
Carbohydrates 51g 27g
Sodium 380mg 230mg
Potassium 110mg 60mg
Magnesium 8mg undisclosed

Vitamin Water Refresh is an electrolyte enhanced sports drink. It contains roughly half the sugar (in the form of cane sugar) as Gatorade (27g vs 51g), but it also contains fewer electrolytes, too. 

However, it is very high in vitamin C, vitamins B5, B6, B12, and vitamin E. If you consume sports drinks regularly, the added vitamins in Vitamin Water Refresh may be a better fit if your diet is low in nutrient-rich foods like fruits and vegetables. 

But if you need something to get you through a long, strenuous workout, the higher amounts of carbohydrates and electrolytes make Gatorade the better option.

Nooma Organic sports drink
Gatorade Substitute – Nooma Organic Sports Drink.

5. NOOMA Organic Sports Drink

Nutrition Information One 828ml bottle of Gatorade Thirst Quencher One 500ml carton of NOOMA Organic Sports Drink
Calories 190 30
Carbohydrates 51g 7g
Sodium 380mg 110mg
Potassium 110mg 340mg
Magnesium 8mg 20mg

Nooma Organic Sports Drink is exactly what it sounds like: it’s full of organic ingredients and is non-GMO, vegan, keto-friendly, and gluten-free. It contains no added sugar and is sweetened with organic stevia leaf extract. 

Though it contains fewer calories (30 vs 190), carbohydrates (7g vs 51g), and sodium (110mg vs 380mg), it is very high in potassium (340mg) and magnesium (20mg). 

If you want something designed to help rehydrate you but without all of the added sugars, dyes, and flavors, Nooma Organic Sports Drink is a great option.

6. Scratch Labs Sport Hydration Drink Mix

Nutrition Information One 828ml bottle of Gatorade Thirst Quencher One 22g scoop of Scratch Labs Sport Hydration Drink Mix
Calories 190 80
Carbohydrates 51g 20g
Sodium 380mg 380mg
Potassium 110mg 38mg
Magnesium 8mg 38mg

Scratch Labs Sports Hydration Drink Mix is a powder that contains the same amount of sodium (380mg) as Gatorade with less than half the sugar (20g vs 48g). 

Cane sugar and dextrose are the leading ingredients, but Scratch Labs Sports Hydration Drink Mix packs a powerful electrolyte punch and is verified non-GMO, gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan. 

If you want to control the level of sweetness (and therefore carbohydrate content) in your sports drink, you can add more or less Scratch Labs Sports Hydration Drink Mix to your water as you see fit.

Gatorade substitute with caffeine.
A Gatorade substitute with caffeine.

Caffeinated Alternatives To Gatorade

Not every situation calls for added caffeine, however, if you are looking for a little extra energy in your sports drink, these caffeinated alternatives to Gatorade are your best options.

7. Nuun Energy

Nutrition Information One 828ml bottle of Gatorade Thirst Quencher One 5.2g tablet of Nuun Energy
Calories 190 15
Carbohydrates 51g 4g
Sodium 380mg 100mg
Potassium 110mg 200mg
Magnesium 8mg 15mg
Caffeine 0mg 80mg

One Nuun Energy tablet has the same amount of caffeine as two cups of coffee and is relatively high in all three main electrolytes (100mg sodium, 200mg potassium, and 15mg magnesium). However, it has next to no calories. 

If you want to train in a near-fasted state, are on a large calorie deficit, or are training/competing for 12+ hours through the night (like an ultramarathon or similar event) and can get your calories from other sources, Nuun Energy can be a good way to provide instant energy and replenish electrolytes.

8. Tailwind Nutrition Caffeinated Endurance Fuel

Nutrition Information One 828ml bottle of Gatorade Thirst Quencher One 27g scoop of Tailwind Nutrition Caffeinated Endurance Fuel
Calories 190 100
Carbohydrates 51g 25g
Sodium 380mg 310mg
Potassium 110mg 90mg
Magnesium 8mg 12mg
Caffeine 0mg 35mg

Tailwind Nutrition Caffeinated Endurance Fuel is identical to the non-caffeinated version, only it has an additional 35mg of caffeine. 

If you want something less sweet than Gatorade, but with all the electrolytes and an extra energy boost in the form of caffeine, Tailwind Nutrition Caffeinated Endurance Fuel is perfect.

Tailwind endurance fuel as a Gatorade substitute
Gatorade Substitute – Tailwind Endurance Fuel.

 9. Vitamin Water Energy

Nutrition Information One 828ml bottle of Gatorade Thirst Quencher One 591ml bottle of Vitamin Water Energy
Calories 190 100
Carbohydrates 51g 27g
Sodium 380mg 0mg
Potassium 110mg 0mg
Magnesium 8mg undisclosed
Caffeine 0mg 60mg

Vitamin Water Energy is a caffeinated Gatorade alternative that is high in caffeine (it has more caffeine than a cup of coffee) and provides some carbohydrates (27g). However, it contains no electrolytes whatsoever. 

If you’re looking for something to replenish the electrolytes lost through sweat, you should stick with Gatorade or one of its many other alternatives.

No-Sugar Alternatives To Gatorade

If you want to replace the electrolytes lost through sweat but do not want the sugars and calories found in Gatorade and other sports drinks, these three no-sugar Gatorade alternatives are calorie-free. No-sugar Gatorade alternatives are great if you are trying to lose weight or would rather get your calories from whole food sources.

10. Biosteel Hydration Mix

Nutrition Information One 828ml bottle of Gatorade Thirst Quencher One 7g scoop of Biosteel Hydration Mix
Calories 190 5
Carbohydrates 51g 1g
Sodium 380mg 140mg
Potassium 110mg 33mg
Magnesium 8mg 5mg

Biosteel Hydration Mix is a no-sugar Gatorade alternative powder you mix with water. To get the same amount of sodium and potassium as a bottle of Gatorade, you would need to use three scoops of Biosteel Hydration Mix. 

Sweetened with stevia, Biosteel Hydration Mix has no artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners and is essentially calorie-free.

 11. Powerade Zero Sugar

Nutrition Information One 828ml bottle of Gatorade Thirst Quencher One 900ml bottle of Powerade
Calories 190 0
Carbohydrates 51g 0g
Sodium 380mg 375mg
Potassium 110mg 0mg
Magnesium 8mg 0mg

A bottle of Powerade Zero Sugar has more sodium than a bottle of Gatorade, but that’s about all it has. 

Powerade Zero Sugar contains no sugar, calories, potassium, or magnesium – it is essentially flavored salt water. 

Sweetened with the artificial sweetener sucralose, Powerade Zero Sugar will not provide you with any usable energy.

Gatorade zero packets and nutrition label.
Gatorade Zero packets and nutrition label.

 12. Gatorade Zero

Nutrition Information One 828ml bottle of Gatorade Thirst Quencher One 2.9g packet Gatorade Zero
Calories 190 5
Carbohydrates 51g <1-2g
Sodium 380mg 230mg
Potassium 110mg 70mg
Magnesium 8mg undisclosed

Gatorade Zero is a no-sugar alternative to their more popular Thirst Quencher product. 

One packet of Gatorade Zero has less sodium (230mg vs 380mg) and potassium (70mg vs 110mg) than a bottle of Gatorade Thirst Quencher, and is essentially calorie-free as it is sweetened with the artificial sweetener sucralose.

Natural Alternatives to Gatorade

Though Gatorade and other sports drinks are specifically formulated to replace electrolytes and replenish glycogen stores, there are also natural ways to accomplish these goals. The following natural beverages will help you recover quickly from exercise.

13. Coconut Water

Nutrition Information One 828ml bottle of Gatorade Thirst Quencher 828ml of coconut water
Calories 190 154
Carbohydrates 51g 35g
Sodium 380mg 224mg
Potassium 110mg 1,414mg
Magnesium 8mg 210mg

Coconut water has become quite popular over the past few years as it is naturally high in the electrolytes sodium (224mg), potassium (1,414mg), and magnesium (210mg). 

It is a great natural Gatorade alternative, providing ample calories (154) and a plethora of electrolytes. 

14. 1% Milk

Nutrition Information One 828ml bottle of Gatorade Thirst Quencher One cup of 1% cow’s milk
Calories 190 103
Carbohydrates 51g 12g
Sodium 380mg 107mg
Potassium 110mg 366mg
Magnesium 8mg 24mg

In addition to the protein and carbohydrates milk is known for, it’s also quite high in electrolytes – cow’s milk contains large amounts of sodium (107mg) and potassium (366mg). 

It’s no surprise, then, that milk often outperforms most commercially available recovery drinks

Not only is milk a natural Gatorade alternative, but it’s also a cheaper alternative to Gatorade.

Chocolate milk and bananas to replace gatorade and electrolytes
Chocolate milk as a Gatorade replacement.

 15. Chocolate Milk

Nutrition Information One 828ml bottle of Gatorade Thirst Quencher One cup of chocolate milk
Calories 190 209
Carbohydrates 51g 26g
Sodium 380mg 150mg
Potassium 110mg 418mg
Magnesium 8mg 32mg

Chocolate milk isn’t exactly natural, but it is higher in calories (209 vs 103), carbohydrates (26g vs 12g), sodium (150mg vs 107mg), potassium (418mg vs 366mg), and magnesium (32mg vs 24mg) than regular 1% milk, making it a better Gatorade alternative for those who don’t mind the added sugar. 

And, like 1% milk, chocolate milk is a cheaper alternative to Gatorade, costing roughly half as much.

Homemade Gatorade Recipes

As the main ingredients in Gatorade are water, sugar, and salt, you can easily make a homemade Gatorade alternative. A homemade Gatorade alternative can be as simple as adding a dash (or half a packet) of salt (~155mg of sodium) to fruit juice or Kool-Aid as seen in the recipes below.

16. Homemade Orange Juice Gatorade

Nutrition Information One Serving (1.5 cups) of Gatorade Homemade Orange Juice Gatorade
Calories 80 111
Carbohydrates 22g 26g
Sodium 160mg 158mg
Potassium 50mg 496mg
Magnesium 3mg 24mg

Orange juice alone is a very close substitute for Gatorade as it contains 111 calories (compared to 80 in Gatorade), 26g of carbs (compared to 22g in Gatorade), and nearly 10x the amount of potassium and magnesium. 

Though it lacks sodium, this can be solved by adding a dash of salt to your juice.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 dash of salt
Homemade gatorade substitute
A homemade Gatorade substitute.

17. Homemade Gatorade Powder Recipe

Nutrition Information One Serving (1.5 cups) of Gatorade Homemade Gatorade Powder Recipe
Calories 80 96
Carbohydrates 22g 25g
Sodium 160mg 155mg
Potassium 50mg 0mg
Magnesium 3mg 0mg

Sometimes taking a powdered electrolyte and carbohydrate mix makes life much easier. 

If you need to carry your electrolytes and fuel during a long race, for example, it’s much easier to carry powder you can mix with water at refill stations than it is to run with several bottles of Gatorade. 

Though this homemade Gatorade powder recipe lacks potassium or magnesium (making it an almost exact Powerade substitute) it is easy to put together with ingredients found almost anywhere.

Ingredients: 

  • ¼ packet of Kool-Aid Drink Mix (1g)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 dash of salt

Can You Replace Electrolytes Through Food?

Sports drinks like Gatorade make it easy to quickly replace electrolytes lost during a workout but you can also replace electrolytes through food. The sodium, potassium, and magnesium lost through sweat can be replaced with a variety of fruits and vegetables.

The best foods to eat to replace electrolytes include: 

1. Pickles

Eating pickles is one of the best ways to replace the sodium lost through sweat as one pickle contains 140mg of sodium. You can replace more sodium by eating three pickles (420mg sodium) than drinking a bottle of Gatorade (380mg sodium).

eating pickles for electrolytes
Eating pickles to replace electrolytes.

2. Olives

One small olive contains approximately 24mg of sodium. If you’re on a ketogenic diet, choosing olives over Gatorade to replace your electrolytes can be a great choice as they are high in healthy fats (.3g/small olive) and low in non-fiber carbohydrates (.1g/small olive).

3. Spinach

One cup of spinach contains 24mg of sodium and 156mg of magnesium. The best part about it, though, is how easy it is to throw into smoothies and shakes. You can add a cup of spinach to nearly any type of smoothie and not even notice it’s in there.

4. Bananas

There is roughly 420mg of potassium in one banana compared to just 50mg of potassium in one 828ml bottle of Gatorade. Bananas are equally as portable as Gatorade and just as great in a smoothie as spinach. Adding a cup of spinach and a banana to a smoothie is a great way to include many electrolytes lost through sweat.

5. Avocados

Bananas get all the hype, but avocados are the true potassium powerhouse. One avocado contains roughly 975mg of potassium – over twice as much as found in a banana – and 58mg of magnesium.

6. Beets

One beet contains roughly 64mg of sodium in addition to 19mg of magnesium and 260mg of potassium. Cooked beets can be enjoyed warm with nearly any dish but are also great cold on salads and are a great way to replace lost electrolytes.

Gatorade substitute while biking
Drinking a Gatorade substitute while biking.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Drink Is The Same As Gatorade?

Powerade is the most similar drink to Gatorade. One serving of Powerade has 150mg of sodium compared to 160mg in Gatorade, and 21g of sugar compared to 22g in Gatorade.

What Is Better Than Gatorade For Electrolytes?

One 19g scoop of Nuun Endurance contains more electrolytes than a bottle of Gatorade. Nuun Endurance is higher in sodium, potassium, and magnesium than Gatorade.

Are There Natural Alternatives To Gatorade?

Coconut water and milk are the best natural alternatives to Gatorade. Coconut water is lower in calories and sugar, making it a good choice for weight loss. Milk is high in protein and carbohydrates, which helps if you’re trying to build muscle or recover quickly from a workout. Both are high in electrolytes.


 

Kevin Garce

Kevin Garce is a Certified Health Coach who encourages people by informing them on nutrition and food topics important to them. His years of research and knowledge inspire people to achieve their goals. Read more here About Me

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