Surprising HFCS food of the week - or Gatorade double talk

>> Wednesday, August 13, 2008

One of the “foods” that we were able to keep when we cleared our pantry of all HFCS was powdered Gatorade. Ken loves to have a big glass of Gatorade after cutting the grass, so we were very happy about that. Surprisingly (though maybe it shouldn’t be), liquid Gatorade does have HFCS in it. In fact, it’s the third ingredient after water and sugar. (The powdered Gatorade uses dextrose in place of HFCS.)

Here’s the thing that gets me, though. I went to Gatorade’s website to check out the ingredients and info online. I couldn’t find an ingredient list online – not surprising since products containing HFCS often don’t make their ingredient list available on their websites (at least in my recent experience – there are exceptions, of course). But I did find this Q&A on the official Gatorade FAQ:

Why doesn't Gatorage contain fruit juice?

Fruit juice contains fructose in levels which slow gastric emptying and may result in intestinal upset when athletes drink it during exercise.

Um, hello? They won’t use fruit juice, but they will use HFCS? Granted, fruit juices aren’t all that great – they’re loaded with fructose (especially apple juice – apple juice can have more fructose per ounce than a can of HFCS-containing soda!) with few of the beneficial goodies in the original fruit (sticking with apples – the juice has none of the pectin and fiber and only about 3% of the wonderful vitamins and minerals in the original apple). Fruit juice, for the most part, really is junk food in disguise. (There are exceptions here too. Orange juice and cranberry juice have a lot to offer, for example, but you’re still much better off eating the original fruit!)

So, yes, fruit juice does have a lot of problematic fructose in it, but HFCS is no better! It really is slick marketing on Gatorade’s part to give this explanation of why they won’t use fruit juice. It implies that they don’t use HFCS either. I wrote to Gatorade and asked them why they won’t use fruit juice because of the fructose content, but they will use HFCS. It’s been about a week, and I haven’t heard back from them. I suspect that they use HFCS but not fruit juice because it’s easier to control the fructose amount in HFCS than in fruit juice, and, let’s not forget, HFCS is cheaper.

Both Gatorade and Powerade (another popular sport drink) have HFCS as their third ingredient (after water and sugar). Propel, another drink from the Gatorade company, does not contain HFCS. And if you like Gatorade, you can get a HFCS-free fix by mixing it yourself using the powdered Gatorade mix.


Lori August 14, 2008 at 5:40 AM  

I'm so glad to know this about liquid vs powdered gatorade, and the propel too. I don't frequent these drinks a lot, but in the hot summers of Brazil after a workout in a non-airconditioned gym I do like to mix gatorade with some water.

I've gotten to love juicing myself. I've always loved juice, but I know what is in it when I am doing it myself and there so many great combinations!

Mark Salinas August 14, 2008 at 7:30 AM  

Powerade is the same, last year in a marathon that I ran in, each water stop they handed that junk out....of course I took a cup at each (26 to be exact!) YUCK....I have been sick to my stomach ever since whenever I think about it. Nice post I thank you for you resolve in educating us! :)

Super Healthy Kids August 14, 2008 at 9:31 AM  

I do like the powder propel. Although like Mark, at my half marathon on saturday they tossed out cups of gatorade, and being thirsty, I drank it. I had the worst side ache from mile 10-13 and I blame the gatorade. I normally drink water, so i shouldn't have experimented.

Hil August 14, 2008 at 10:18 AM  

My boyfriend loves gatorade and I told him it has HFCS in it. Ugh.

cathy August 14, 2008 at 11:00 AM  

Tell him to mix it from powder, Hil! Or switch to Propel.

Hil August 15, 2008 at 12:03 PM  

Yeah, I was going to tell him about the powder, I don't think he'd mind...

Merry K. August 15, 2008 at 2:16 PM  

This is a truly helpful post!! Also the comment from the faq of Gatorade explains why my kids get upset stomach from drinking that garbage! I most assuredly applaude you, my friend for ridding your fam of this poison. Hope you'll stop by and visit me too at - sounds like we're going the same direction! ..Bless you -

Michael Grier March 11, 2009 at 10:03 AM  

Found this blog posting via Google; I thought I would mention that Propel just switched over to HFCS in the liquid form also. Very disappointing from a company which purports to be focused on healthy products. I'll ignore the generalized HFCS debate and just focus on fructose/glucose vs. sucrose and their impact on blood sugar.

cathy March 11, 2009 at 10:53 AM  

Michael - Oh, I'm REALLY disappointed to hear about Propel. That's my drink of choice when I work out.

Calvin Newton December 9, 2015 at 2:35 PM  

The Gatorade at a marathon is probably from powder. When I worked at the marathon stops we used powder. we also mixed flavors but don't tell anyone. The powder is cheaper.
For some reason the liquid from tastes better.

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