Some nutrition coaches say that bodybuilders don’t need Gatorade and it should be reserved for endurance-based athletes only. While other nutrition coaches disagree and say that bodybuilders can consume Gatorade daily.
So, is Gatorade good or bad for bodybuilding? Gatorade can be used in bodybuilding to help add calories when on a bulking diet. If you do not have enough energy during a workout, you can include it before or during training. However, if you are in a cutting phase and your training session is below 90 minutes, it is unnecessary to add Gatorade.
In this article, I take a science-based approach to answering this question in order to teach you everything related to bodybuilding and Gatorade, including:
- The calories, macronutrients, and micronutrients found in Gatorade and how it relates to bodybuilding
- Whether bodybuilders train hard enough to use Gatorade
- The pros and cons of drinking Gatorade if you are a bodybuilder
- Whether Gatorade helps with muscle growth
- Tips for including Gatorade into your diet if you are a bodybuilder
Gatorade For Bodybuilding: Overview
Types of Gatorade: Nutritional Content
There are different types of Gatorades available on the market. Each with a specific characteristic and intended benefit. It is essential to know each of them since it might affect which one and when to include it on a bodybuilder’s diet.
|Name||Serving size||Calories (kcal)||Carbs (g)||Sodium||Potassium|
|Gatorade Thirst Quencher||12 oz||80||22||160||50|
|G Zero||12 oz||0||0||160||50|
|Organic Thirst Quencher||16.9 oz||120||30||230||60|
|Gatorade Juiced||12 oz||40||9||160||50|
|Endurance Formula||12 oz||90||22||310||140|
The calories found in Gatorade go from 0-120 kcal. For a bodybuilder working out 4-6 days per week, this number is not very high.
A bodybuilder’s diet can range from 2500-3500 kcal for a man and 1800-2500 kcal for a woman depending on the stage of training (cutting or bulking).
For the standard Gatorade (Thirst Quencher), in 12 oz of product, you only get 80 kcal, which is the same as one slice of white toast.
For those in a bulking phase, using the Gatorade that has more calories (Thirst Quencher, G2, Organic Thirst Quencher, and Gatorade Juiced) are excellent options when you have a hard time adding extra calories to your diet.
On the other hand, you might want to go for the lower calorie options like G Zero and the G2 for those in a cutting phase.
Gatorade only has simple carbs. It offers no protein or fat content.
The main objective of Gatorade is to provide immediate energy for your training or activity session. Simple carbs, since they are fast-digesting carbs, means that once you eat or drink them, you get energy right away. You don’t need to digest it or process it.
If you are looking to up your carb daily content, you might want to add Gatorade to your diet. However, remember that you still need some protein and fats added to the mix. It can either be done at the same mealtime or afterward.
Remember to measure the Gatorade portion to make sure you know how many calories, sugars, and sodium you are ingesting.
I’ve written previously about mixing whey protein with Gatorade (click to check out that article).
Related Article: Can You Eat Sugar While Bulking? (Complete Guide)
Before we dig into Gatorade’s micronutrients, it is important to understand what electrolytes are and why they are useful. This is because Gatorade is composed of electrolytes.
Electrolytes are minerals that help regulate nerve and muscle impulses. They also help keep a balanced fluid within the body (this means that you have the right amount of water running through your body).
There are 5 essential electrolytes in the body: sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, and calcium. Gatorade has two of these electrolytes:
You might lose some of these electrolytes during a workout session through your sweat. The amount that you lose depends on the amount of sweat. Suppose the workout lasts more than 90 minutes. In that case, it is very intense, or in a very humid or hot environment, the number of electrolytes lost increases.
If these electrolytes are not replaced after a training session, in that case, it might cause problems such as muscle cramping, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, and headaches.
Since Gatorade has sodium and potassium, these are the top electrolytes lost in your sweat and the ones that you need to focus on when you sweat a lot. To help you replenish these electrolytes, that is why sports drinks were created. So if you have an arduous training session where you are sweating a lot, you might want to consider adding it.
Are you eating the right foods for your bodybuilding goals?
Do Bodybuilders Train Hard Enough To Use Gatorade?
Whether you need to consume Gatorade depends on the number of electrolytes you use during a training session. On average, you can lose between 200-1200 mg of sodium during a hard training session. The amount you use highly depends on several factors such as:
- You are working out for more than 90 minutes
(This means 90 active minutes. So if you spend 90 minutes at the gym but most of the time you spend it on your phone or doing something else, it doesn’t count).
- Training in a humid or hot environment
- You tend to sweat a lot.
These factors increase your sweat and make you lose more sodium. Thus, if you are a bodybuilder that checks any of these boxes, you might want to add Gatorade.
Let’s Recap: When Should You Use Gatorade?
There are several reasons why you might want to add Gatorade as a bodybuilder:
- You are in a bulking phase and need some quick carbs to help you fuel your training session, but you don’t want to eat anything because it makes your stomach feel heavy.
- You are in a bulking phase, are training for more than 90 minutes, and need to include extra calories and carbs in your diet.
- You are in a cutting phase, working out for more than 90 minutes (or having a double session per day), or you are working out in a hot or humid environment. However, here you should include G-Zero as it has less calories, but still having the electrolyte benefits.
3 Pros Of Drinking Gatorade For Bodybuilding
Here are the top three reasons why you might want to include Gatorade if you are a bodybuilder.
Sometimes, water is not enough to get your body hydrated. You might have hyponatremia when you lose electrolytes and don’t replenish them. This happens when your sodium levels get too low from drinking lots of water and not replenishing the sodium lost.
Having hyponatremia can cause nausea, vomiting, headache, and muscle weakness. It can be as dangerous as leading into a coma.
To avoid this from happening, you might want to include a Gatorade once in a while if you have long training sessions or if you workout out in a humid or hot environment.
2. Helps You Add Calories
Finding different ways to add calories might be challenging for those in a bulking phase.
Often, when my clients have difficulty looking for ways to include more carbs or calories, I recommend having 12 oz of Gatorade during the workout. This helps increase your caloric intake, and it also provides an extra energy boost during training.
3. Prevents Muscle Cramps
Gatorade is an excellent aid for those suffering from muscle cramps due to low potassium, thanks to its potassium content.
Sometimes, even if they haven’t worked out, my clients suffer from muscle cramps at night or any other time during the day. I usually recommend having some Gatorade to avoid having them. If you are going to use it at night, make sure that it is G Zero.
1 Con of Drinking Gatorade For Bodybuilding
There is one con of drinking Gatorade if you are a bodybuilder.
High In Carbs and Sodium
You might not want to add those extra calories coming from Gatorade if you are in a cutting phase, even if 80 kcal doesn’t sound like a lot. For someone in a cutting phase, I typically recommend more filling foods (like a large apple) instead of Gatorade to provide more satiety.
Suppose you are in a cutting phase and want to include Gatorade to replenish your electrolytes. In that case, you can choose G Zero that offers no calories.
Additionally, for bodybuilders that tend to retain water or have high blood pressure, you might want to stay away due to the sodium intake.
Can You Drink Gatorade Before Workouts?
The main objective of pre-workout nutrition is to give you the necessary energy for your training session. This is achieved with simple carbs that are easy to digest. Gatorade is made with simple carbs, making it the perfect choice to add before training.
Since you don’t need to digest it, you can have it 15-30 minutes before your workout to help you provide that extra energy boost that you need.
You can even consider adding it in between your workout. You can have it either as a water replacement or in addition to the water that you might be having.
The amount you drink depends on several factors like sweat rate, workout duration, and intensity. However, in my experience dealing with bodybuilders, a regular serving of 12 oz is enough to provide the necessary carbs during your workout without adding too much extra sodium.
Can You Drink Gatorade After Workouts?
After training, you need to replenish the electrolytes and the energy lost during your training session. Gatorade is an excellent choice that helps you add carbs, sodium, and potassium for optimum muscle recovery.
During your workout, you use the energy stored in your muscles (glycogen). After your workout session, you need to replenish this energy, so you are good to go for the next session. Adding some simple carbs right after your training not only helps increase this muscle glycogen. Additionally, it helps absorb protein better and make sure that it is used for muscle building.
With that said, remember that Gatorade is a source only of carbs. You still need a source of protein to go along with it. You can either combine it into your protein shake or have it on the side with a Greek yogurt parfait.
Is Gatorade Good For Muscle Growth?
Gatorade helps increase your calories and adds carbs to your diet. Having a caloric surplus is essential when you are in a bulking phase. However, remember that it lacks protein, so you need to include a protein source as well.
To help your muscles grow, you need to give the body an energy source to use that instead of muscle mass for energy. By providing the body with carbs, in the form of Gatorade, you help the body use the protein for repairing and muscle growth.
Tips For Incorporating Gatorade Into A Bodybuilding Diet
Here you can find some of my tips and tricks to including Gatorade if you are a bodybuilder.
Mix It With Protein
If you are going to include it after training, you need to add a protein source to make the dish more balanced.
One way that I often recommend my patients is to mix it up with your protein shake. You can mix the vanilla protein shake with the lemon Gatorade if you like a creamy shake. It more or less tastes like lemon pie.
Create Gatorade Ice Cubes
Although some people might want to drink Gatorade with room temperature water, if you are in a very hot environment, you might want to have a refreshing drink. If you don’t want to water down your drink by adding ice cubes, you can create Gatorade ice cubes.
Mix some water and Gatorade and place it into an ice tray. You can then store them and use them when you want to make them colder.
Increase the Solubility
One of the most common problems I hear my clients have is that it doesn’t dissolve so well in water. This happens when you mix it up in cold water. Suppose you want to increase how well it dissolves (increasing the solubility). In that case, you need to mix it in room temperature water.
Typically, hotter water tends to dissolve better.
Have a FeastGood Nutrition Coach help you get results faster than trying to stick it out alone
Other Liquids For Bodybuilders
- Is Lemon Water Good or Bad For Bodybuilding?
- Is Almond Milk Good or Bad For Bodybuilding?
- Is Diet Soda Good or Bad For Bodybuilding?
About The Author
Brenda Peralta is a Registered Dietitian and certified sports nutritionist. In addition to being an author for FeastGood.com, she fact checks the hundreds of articles published across the website to ensure accuracy and consistency of information.