The race to the finish is on! I was recently asked my preference for “sport” drinks. It would require a Herculean effort to compare them all, so we thought we’d pit the original Gatorade against the newcomer Ultima Replenisher. I chose these two specifically because they compete in two different categories, a fact which many people are not aware. Gatorade is a true sport drink meaning it contains water, electrolytes AND carbohydrates; whereas, Ultima Replenisher is an electrolyte replacement that contains water and electrolytes but NO carbohydrates.
Will the veteran competitor, Gatorade, have enough left in the tank or will Ultima Replenisher, the rookie upstart, take the race?
|Lemon-Lime Gatorade Powder (15 g)||VS*||Ultima Powder Grape
|1960s||Decade of Invention
|4 + Fierce Grape in the US||Flavours||4 Flavours|
|$0.41 CAN||Cost per serving**||$0.62 CAN|
|50 kcal||Calories||15 kcal|
|14 g||Sugars||0 g|
|100 mg||Sodium||5 mg (<1% DV)|
||75 mg (2% DV)|
|0 mg||Vitamin C||20 mg (33% DV)|
No Baloney’s results? Gatorade takes the gold medal, in all categories.
Gatorade wins on cost hands down. Not only is it less expensive but if you are exercising for longer than one hour you should take in some carbohydrate with your electrolytes. This means you are purchasing the Ultima Replenisher PLUS a carbohydrate source. Ultima Replenisher uses stevia, a 0 calorie natural plant product, as a sweetener. In Canada stevia has been approved for use in Natural Health Products but not foods. The reason being that stevia has not undergone the full safety evaluation required by Health Canada for approval (1). They also use some maltodextrin as a carbohydrate source but you have to read way down the label to find it. Gatorade uses sucrose (a combination of glucose and fructose) and dextrose (glucose) as their carbohydrate sources. Glucose is key because your body needs to convert all other forms of carbohydrate to glucose prior to use. There is a limit to glucose absorption though, so the addition of fructose may increase overall carbohydrate absorption.
Ultima Replenisher advertises that they have 13 electrolytes and minerals but there is no scientific evidence to suggest that consuming the “extra” minerals above those found in Gatorade have any effects on health or performance – with the possible exception of zinc because small amounts are lost via sweat. Furthermore, the 5 mg of sodium provided in the Ultima Replenisher are unlikely to be sufficient to replace sodium lost in sweating according to the current recommendations (0.5 – 0.7 g/L or about 125 mg/cup) (2).
Ultima Replenisher also heavily advertises that their product contains antioxidants. With respect to athletic performance, the scientific evidence suggests that antioxidant supplements are not beneficial and may actually do more harm than good. The theory is that they interfere with the body’s endogenous production of antioxidants and reduce the training adaptation to exercise (3). Far better to get your antioxidants through high intakes of fruits and vegetables than in supplement form.
We do have one complaint with Gatorade and that’s that after all this time they could come up with a new flavour. Lemon-lime has pretty much run it’s course!
We advise you to save your money and go with tried, tested (extensively) and true – stick to the Gatorade. There are, of course, many other options out there and some people find that they can digest certain brands better than others, likely due to the type of carbohydrate used. In all cases, we encourage you to check the label to see if it’s an electrolyte replacement or sport drink and adjust your carbohydrate intakes accordingly. Always find out what will be available on race day and try it out to see if it works or come prepared with your own drinks.
Nutrition information for Gatorade from: http://www.gatorade.com/#product?s=g-powder
Nutritional information for Ultima Replenisher from: http://www.ultimareplenisher.com/ultimasupplementinfo.php
*We did not use equal amounts of each because in real life you would not mix equal amounts of Gatorade and Ultima Replenisher, rather we went with what the manufacturer lists as a serving size.
**We used the Mountain Equipment Co-op website for the costs. We took the price and divided it by the suggested number of servings per container to calculate the cost per serving.
1. Health Canada. (2010) Frequently Asked Question “FAQs” on Stevia. Available from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/addit/sweeten-edulcor/stevia-faq-eng.php
2. American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada and American College of Sports Medicine. Nutrition and athletic performance joint position statement. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 2009; 41 (3):709-31.
3. Powers et al. Antioxidant and vitamin D supplements for athletes: sense or nonsense? Journal of Sports Sciences 2011; 29:sup1, S47-S55.