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Is Gatorade Acidic?

Lisa Price
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by Lisa Price

You’ve probably had Gatorade before, but have you ever wondered how acidic it is? This beverage contains a lot of sugar and has a pH of roughly 3, so it’s pretty acidic.

Gatorade is the official sports drink of all the major sports leagues — the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, and NASCAR. It’s a symbol of victory cherished by many major athletes.

Thanks to this, what began as a drink for a single college football team, “The Florida Gators,” is now available worldwide. But do its health benefits outweigh the drink’s high acidity? Let’s look into this.

Gatorade
Gatorade

Gatorade Nutritional Value

Gatorade has different flavors and colors, but its nutritional profile is mostly the same for all. The brand’s website states that a 20-ounce bottle contains:

NutritionValue
Calories140
Fat0 g
Sodium270 mg
Carbohydrates36 g
Fiber0 g
Sugars34 g
Protein0 g
Potassium75 g

Gatorade Ingredients

Gatorade offers a wide range of beverage options with varying levels of sweetness, color, and taste, yet the ingredients are more or less the same.

Here is a list of the essential components in a standard bottle:

WaterFor hydration
SugarFor energy
DextroseType of sugar used also for energy
Citric acidFor flavor
SaltFor electrolyte replenishment
Sodium citrateFor flavor
Monopotassium phosphateFor a boost in potassium levels
Modified food starchStabilizing agent
Natural flavorFor flavor
Food dyeFor color
Glycerol ester of rosinStabilizing agent
Caramel colorFor color

Gatorade also makes organic drinks that contain:

WaterFor hydration
Cane sugarFor energy
Citric acidFor flavor
Natural flavorFor flavor
Sea saltFor electrolyte replenishment
Sodium citrateFor flavor
Monopotassium phosphateFor a boost in potassium levels

What Makes Gatorade Acidic?

Gatorade has a pH level of around 3, which means this sports beverage is almost as acidic as Coca-Cola (pH of 2.37). How so?

Well, for starters, it’s high in sugar — the leading triggering heartburn agent. Each 20 oz bottle of Gatorade contains 34 grams of sugar. This is higher than the recommended total daily allowance of 32 grams.

Additionally, Gatorade contains citric acid, which stimulates excess stomach acid production. It may trigger stomach problems like heartburn and acid reflux if taken in vast quantities, not to mention that sports beverages can wear down tooth enamel, rendering teeth fragile and prone to decay.

So, Gatorade is acidic for both your stomach and teeth.

pH Levels of Different Gatorade Sports Drinks

All Gatorade drinks are highly acidic; however, their pH levels vary slightly from one drink to another. Let’s look at the most popular types and their pH levels.

Type of Gatorade Sports DrinkpH level
Frost Riptide Rush2.99
Rain Line3.19
Rain Strawberry Kiwi3.17
Blueberry Pomegranate3.21
Fierce Grape3.05
Fierce Melon3.05
Fruit Punch3.01
Lemon Lime2.97
Orange2.99
Rain Berry3.17

Can Gatorade Cause Acid Reflux and GERD?

Gatorade contains sugar and citric acid, both of which can induce acid reflux.

Acid reflux can leave you with a sour or bitter taste in your mouth and burning discomfort in your chest. When stomach acid and other substances go up the esophagus and irritate the tissues, they cause heartburn — a burning sensation.

Although not life-threatening, it does occur often. If it happens frequently, the ailment is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.

According to studies, athletes are more likely to suffer from acid reflux if they rehydrate with typical sports beverages as opposed to water. Why? Because they consume these drinks in large quantities, so the amount of sugar and citric acid that enters the body is sky high.

How to Determine Whether Gatorade Triggers Acid Reflux or GERD?

Although Gatorade is an acidic sports drink, this does not necessarily imply that it is to blame for your heartburn. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to determine whether consuming this beverage can cause acid reflux in you.

If you experience heartburn immediately after drinking Gatorade and this pattern continues each time you drink it, there’s a high chance that this beverage may be the trigger.

Gatorade may not be the culprit if you get acid reflux symptoms while exercising. Exercises that impose stress on the abdomen, such as gymnastics, rope jumping, jogging, and cycling, may increase the likelihood of heartburn.

Acid reflux could also be caused by a change in your daily routine. This includes a variety of factors, such as overeating, sleeping right after eating, drinking alcohol, smoking, eating acidic foods, and taking medications. Gatorade may merely be a trigger for heartburn rather than the actual cause.

How to Reduce Heartburn While Drinking Gatorade

What can you do to lessen the symptoms of heartburn now that you know it might be the cause?

Start by drinking less Gatorade. You likely consume too much if you have heartburn right after drinking it. Reduce the number of bottles you drink each day to lessen the symptoms.

How to Reduce Heartburn While Drinking Gatorade
Drinking Gatorade

If you are planning to exercise, eat two hours before exercising. You can still drink Gatorade and water while exercising, but eating right before exercising is not a good idea. A full stomach puts a lot of strain on the sphincter, which might result in heartburn.

Eat a banana after working out. Bananas are neutral antacids that if consumed regularly, can help reduce heartburn. They’re also high in fiber, so in addition to keeping you full, they will help prevent heartburn by sucking extra liquid into your stomach.

Conclusion

Gatorade is an acidic sports beverage with many flavor options. Although there are many variations, all of them have a pH value of roughly 3.

The drink is high in electrolytes, which may be very helpful to athletes. However, if consumed excessively, the high sugar and citric acid concentration may cause acid reflux and GERD if consumed excessively.

Do you have heartburn shortly after consuming Gatorade? The drink might be the culprit. Reduce consumption and monitor your body’s reaction.

If you still get acid reflux, it’s likely that additional factors like overeating, eating before exercising, sleeping after a large meal, consuming alcohol, and smoking are to blame.

About Lisa Price
Lisa Price
Lisa is Food Champ's resident fitness enthusiast and nutrition expert. She holds a nutrition degree in her home state of Florida and works for a large health system to ensure sound nutrition and dietetics information is passed on to all members.
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