Powerade Vs Water: Which Is Better For Dehydration?

After an intense run, sometimes you want something a little extra besides water to get rehydrated and re-energized. Your taste buds crave a burst of berry blast or fruit punch to combat dehydration and get fueled up at the same time.

You're not the only one who loves downing a dose of Powerade or similar sports drinks. The global sports drink market continues to grow to meet rising demand, according to a market analysis report from Grand View Research. It's believed that roughly 60% of males and 40% of females consume sports drinks. The market share for isotonic drinks like Powerade (isotonic drinks have similar concentrations of salts and sugars as the human body) is anticipated to reach $11.9 billion by 2025.

But just because drinks like Powerade are popular, does this mean that they're a good substitute for water when you're dehydrated? Emergency physician Steve Shelton, MD, at Prisma Health explains that there are plenty of ways to hydrate beyond water — but not all are healthy. He points out that beverages with caffeine or alcohol will provide little benefit. The same for drinks with sugar — including Powerade. Though Dr. Shelton notes that Powerade is low in sugar, diluting it further can make it healthier. Even so, he supports water for hydration as the better choice. Though Powerade does have the electrolytes your body needs to maintain many functions, he states you can also get electrolytes through eating a proper diet.

What happens when you get dehydrated?

Thank the University of Florida for your love of sports drinks. Derived from the nickname for the University of Florida football team, the original sports drink Gatorade was invented in 1965 when assistant coach Dewayne Douglas approached a team of scientists to create a drink that would replace essential fluids his players lost due to heat and physical exertion, according to History.

Though your body loses water on a consistent basis through sweat, urination, and other natural processes, when you get dehydrated, you've lost water that has not been adequately replaced through fluids and certain foods, according to Cedars Sinai. Consequently, your body loses key electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Powerade contains all four of these minerals, and because it is a pleasurable drink for many, sports-drink supporters argue that drinking it can replenish these minerals faster than drinking water, especially when putting the body through high-endurance activities.

When you're dehydrated, the most known symptom is, of course, thirst. Other symptoms can include dizziness, muscle cramps, headache, confusion, and a faster heart rate, among others. To determine if you are experiencing dehydration, a doctor will likely check your blood pressure and heart rate and possibly take blood and urine tests, depending on the nature and severity of your symptoms. Treatment will depend on your age, general health and symptoms, but could include simply drinking fluids such as water, sports drinks or fruit juices for mild dehydration. If your dehydration is more severe, your doctor may need to replenish your fluids intravenously, per Cedars-Sinai.

Here are alternative ways to stay hydrated

Hydration is clearly important, but not everyone loves drinking water — or sugary-tasting sports drinks for that matter. The great news is that you have many other options.

Like, how about a bowl of oatmeal? The experts at MedExpress explain that oatmeal is not only filling, but it's also hydrating due to the oats absorbing the water or milk as they cook. Speaking of milk, drinking milk is also a super way to stay hydrated. You can also stay hydrated by sipping on a tasty smoothie treat. Include any combination of strawberries, peaches, spinach, cucumbers, and blueberries. If you prefer only veggies, salads are an excellent way to support hydration, especially lettuce, which is made up of roughly 94% water. Or a tasty gazpacho on a hot summer day can be a hydrating lunch. And for a healthy, hydrating dessert, enjoy a homemade frozen fruit popsicle. Add watermelon with other favorite fruits into a popsicle mold and freeze, and you'll be eating this sweet hydrating treat in an hour.

However, water is usually the best go-to for hydration. But water doesn't have to be boring. For instance, The Baton Rouge Clinic suggests adding flavor by putting in some fresh lemon, lime, or orange slices for a citrusy zing. Or create fruit-infused water with fresh berries, oranges, and mint. Slice up the fruit and place in a mason jar, then pour water in and refrigerate for two hours or overnight for an extra-flavorful delight.