Are you tired of cramping during your workouts, or even worse, your races? Feeling sluggish and tired after exercising? Are you wondering if Gatorade is gluten-free?
There so are many different types of electrolyte powders and mixed sports drinks these days that make label reading confusing. We got you!
Keep reading to learn more about gluten-free sports drinks and how to calculate your individual hydration needs.
Why is Hydration Important?
The human body is about 60% water. Water keeps the joints flexible and lubricated, regulates body temperature, and is a well-known substance that gives athletes a competitive advantage. (1)
Most weight loss during exercise is from sweat. If an athlete does not hydrate before, during, and after exercise this can diminish performance. Consider rethinking the concept of weight loss during exercise as a benefit. In fact, weight loss is often a sign of dehydration.
Dehydration can increase heart rate, increase fatigue, and impact mental health. (2) Water and gluten-free sports drinks can help!
Stop Weight Loss During Exercise
The loss of 2% of body weight (i.e 3lbs for a 150lb person) can impair exercise performance. Dehydration due to sweat loss and not enough hydration during activity can speed up your heart rate, increase fatigue, and can negate the benefits of your workouts.
The average athlete loses 1-4lbs per hour. For every pound of sweat lost an athlete must consume 16oz (2 cups of water). (1)
How Do I Calculate My Sweat Rate?
To calculate your fluid needs during exercise we recommend weighing yourself immediately before exercise and immediately after exercise while also logging how much fluid is consumed during the exercise.
Urination during exercise and wearing heavy, sweaty clothes during your post-exercise weigh-in may interfere with this calculation. Keep in mind, your sweat rate can be impacted by hot weather, humidity, altitude, and exercise intensity and duration. Try our sweat calculator below
Work with a Sports Dietitian
Because sweat rates and electrolyte needs vary greatly among athletes, we recommend working with a Sports Dietitian to create a plan that works best for you.
Do I Need Electrolytes?
Sweat removes both fluid and electrolytes from the body, especially sodium and chloride. Additionally, sweat depletes small amounts of potassium, magnesium, and calcium. (3)
The electrolytes sodium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, and calcium can be found in gluten-free sports drinks. In addition, electrolytes can be consumed via gluten-free foods.
Electrolytes Lost in Sweat
Consuming too much plain water without electrolytes can increase your risk for low blood sodium levels. Hyponatremia (low blood sodium levels) can cause muscle cramps, fatigue, confusion, and even seizures. Calculating your sweat rate and replenishing your electrolytes can prevent hyponatremia. (4)
We recommend athletes consume electrolytes during or after exercise events or workouts longer than 60 minutes. Gluten-free sports drinks and electrolyte powders help to replace fluids and minerals lost in sweat.
What Should I Look for in Gluten-Free Electrolyte Powder?
This will vary depending on your sweat rate and if you are a “salty sweater.” Some athletes may lose 500mg of sodium an hour while others may lose 1000mg.
We recommend gluten-free sports drinks and electrolyte powders that contain at the very least carbohydrates, sodium, and potassium.
In a gluten-free sports drink of electrolyte powder drink, look for 12-18 g of carbohydrate per 8oz, 110-170 mg of sodium per 8oz, and 20-50 mg of potassium per 8oz. (5)
How Salty is my Sweat?
Athletes may ask, how do I know if I am a salty sweater? When you finish a workout do you have dried salt on your face or arms?
Do your exercise clothes dry with white and salty crust stains? Does your sweat taste salty or sting your eyes? Have you been suffering from muscle cramps?
If any of the above is true, you may be a salty sweater. We recommend all athletes try the GX sweat patch during their next workout to measure their sweat rate.
We recommend trialing Gx sweat patches for a minimum of 2-4x for the most accurate results.
Is Gatorade Gluten-Free?
Yes, however, Gatorade does not test for gluten and none of their products are labeled gluten-free.
There may be a risk for cross-contamination with this sports drink and it may not be celiac safe.
Gatorade reports that Gatorade ready-to-drink, Gatorade mix (bulk and sticks), G2 products, and Gatorade endurance products are not derived from any gluten-containing ingredients.
Often those adhering to a gluten-free diet report concern for Gatorade sports drinks containing gluten due to food dyes and modified food starch. According to PepsiCo, manufacturers of Gatorade, there is no gluten in any of Gatorades sports drink ingredients. Many independent gluten-free tests performed have reported that Gatorade has <5ppm of gluten. (7)
Gatorade VS Gatorade Zero
Gatorade is not our first choice for gluten-free athletes, especially those with celiac disease. However, we recognize that it is often one of the most available sports drinks. If you choose to consume Gatorade as someone living with celiac disease, do so with caution.
If selecting a Gatorade sports drink, we do not recommend Gatorade zero. This is because Gatorade zero contains no carbohydrates. Carbohydrates in sports drinks help the body to absorb electrolytes and give the body energy during longer activities (>60 minutes).
Consuming carbohydrates during exercise lasting longer than 1 hour is associated with higher performance outcomes. (8, 9) We hope that Gatorade will test for gluten in their beverages in the future so that all athletes may hydrate without fear or wrenching gut pain.
Is Powerade Gluten Free?
Per Coca-Cola Company, manufacturer of Powerade, all Powerade beverages are gluten-free. However, their sports drinks are not labeled gluten-free.
Gluten Free Athletes has contacted Coca-Cola and they reported “It may interest you to know that the products are Gluten Free. You can be assured that our plants have policies and procedures to eliminate risks associated with the cross-contamination of gluten-free and gluten-containing products.”
According to Coca-Cola Great Britain, “None of our drinks contain gluten.” (10)
At this time we believe Powerade is a more celiac-safe option than compared to Gatorade.
Is Propel Gluten Free?
Yes, according to Propel “Although we do not specifically test our products for gluten, none of the ingredients in our products are derived from grains or flours that have been linked to malabsorption syndrome associated with gluten sensitivity.” (11)
Propel was created by The Gatorade Company and is manufactured by PepsiCo. However, Propel is not labeled gluten-free and may be subject to cross-contamination. Those with celiac disease should consume with caution.
The Best Gluten-Free Electrolytes
While many large, mainstream companies fail to test for and label sports drinks gluten-free, there are many other options for safe, gluten-free electrolytes. Look below to see our list of the best gluten-free electrolytes.
Drip Drop ORS
“DripDrop ORS is non-GMO, vegan, gluten and salicylate free, soy free, dairy free, and contains no artificial preservatives, dyes, and no artificial flavors.” (12) This is one of our personal favorites because of the variety of flavors and the option to purchase variety packs.
“Klean Hydration is gluten-free, dairy-free, and non-GMO, and it contains no artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors, making it a preferable choice for athletes of all levels seeking to maximize their health and performance without the high sugar content and additives found in many hydration products.” (13) We have not tried this one but do appreciate that it is NSF certified for sport.
Liquid IV Hydration Multiplier
Liquid IV Is gluten-free, although recently a controversial electrolyte within the gluten-free community. (14) Individuals report that at-home devices used to test gluten such as Nima, Gluten Tox Home, and Ez Gluten alarmed that this product contains gluten.
Is Liquid IV Really Gluten-Free?
It is critical to keep in mind that consumer testing of food with lateral flow devices may lead to false-positive results. These home gluten detectors are not free of errors. (15)
Gluten Free Watch Dog performed several tests on liquid IV hydration multiplier using the highest grade commercially available test also used by the FDA for gluten-free labeling rules (R7001 Ridascreen Gliadin or R5 ELISA), those results can be viewed here.
LMNT claims that all electrolyte drink mixes do not contain gluten. The label claims “no gluten.” (16) We contacted LMNT regarding how they test their products to ensure LMNT electrolyte powders are gluten-free; however, we have not received a response.
We recommend consuming with caution if you have celiac disease.
Nuun Endurance and Nuun Sport
Nuun is our favorite electrolyte brand because they are the only certified gluten-free electrolytes on the market! We love a brand that supports Gluten Free Athletes! Be sure to allow time for the tablets to dissolve before consuming your gluten-free electrolyte sports drink.
“Yes, all Nuun products are made with gluten-free ingredients and Certified Gluten-Free by a third-party organization. If you’re intolerant or avoiding gluten, you can enjoy all Nuun products with confidence.” (17)
Skratch Labs Sports Hydration Mix
Per Skratch Labs, the Skratch labs hydration mixes are regulated by the FDA and gluten-free. (18) Of all the gluten-free electrolyte powders, this is the highest in carbohydrates. We have tried several of the Skratch Labs Sports Hydration Mixes and enjoy the unique caffeinated flavors such as matcha green tea and lemon and raspberry limeade.
The Right Stuff
“The Right Stuff formula does not contain any ingredients (grains, starches or flours) that contain gluten nor does it source any ingredients that come gluten-containing grains or starches.” (19) The Right Stuff is the saltiest of all the gluten-free electrolytes that we reviewed. This is also the only fluid-based electrolyte brand we reviewed.
Gluten-Free Athletes have not tested this product, therefore; we are unable to report on the taste.
“Thorne has chosen to follow the FDA guidelines (<20ppm of gluten), which have also been adopted by the majority of certifying agencies. At Thorne, we have every product tested yearly to ensure it tests gluten-free before we add the gluten-free icon to our labels or product support materials.” (20)
We have not tried this product but hope that if you do, you enjoy lemon-lime flavor. Thorne Catalyte only comes in one flavor, lemon-lime.
Our Electrolyte Ratings:
Most affordable: Drip Drop ORS, Thorne
For the salty sweater: The Right Stuff, LMNT recharge, Liquid IV
For the worried gluten-free athlete (certified GF): Nuun endurance, Nuun sport
NSF Certified Safe for Sport: Thorne, The Right Stuff, Drip Drop ORS
Saving money and saving the plant tip. We recommend purchasing electrolyte powders that are available in bulk packaging versus individual packages since electrolytes are often cheaper in bulk. This can also help to reduce environmental waste and save you, the consumer and athlete, money to spend on your next athletic event.
Aside from sports drinks and gluten free electrolyte powders, there are many electrolyte gels, gummies, and chews. You can also make your own gluten-free sports drinks at home with as few as 4 ingredients.
Homemade electrolytes allow you to adjust the recipe based on your sodium needs and flavor preferences. In addition, Homemade sports drinks may even help increase your daily fruit intake. We got you, click here to see our DIY Electrolytes.
Gluten-Free Hydration Reminder
Many of the common electrolyte sports drinks on the market are not labeled gluten-free. However, most sports drinks and electrolyte powders are made without gluten-containing ingredients. So, be sure to check labels before purchasing your electrolytes of choice to ensure your sports drinks meet your gluten-free needs.
We recommend trialing gluten-free sports drinks and electrolyte powders in practice prior to competitions. Hydration needs are individualized as are electrolyte needs. We hope this guide to Gluten Free Electrolytes was helpful.
Remember to prehydrate, hydrate and rehydrate. Dehydration can interfere with performance and recovery no matter how hard you train.
Your Salty Sweating, Gluten-Free Dietitian!
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