Looking for a Gatorade substitute? You are in the correct place.

I don’t drink Gatorade for a myriad of reasons, and even though you might think that the top reason is because of its gross ingredients, it actually isn’t.

Of course, I’d never buy it for those reasons (and because there are clearly healthier alternatives), but even growing up I rarely drank it because I think it tastes gross.

And at the end of the day, taste does matter.

Over the years, I’ve put together various regular Gatorade substitutes.

This Gatorade substitute post has been updated in 2023 to reflect any and all current best recommendations for optimal hydration and with gut health in mind.

There is also a podcast episode to accompany the information as well.

Subscribe Today:

Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | iHeart Radio | RSS

Why Do People Drink Gatorade?

The hype around Gatorade comes from its high content of electrolytes.

Electrolytes are salts that our body needs in order to support our nervous system. Some of the common electrolytes include potassium, sodium, phosphorus, magnesium, chloride, and calcium.

Neurons, or nerve cells, rely on the correct concentration of salts in order to send signals through our nervous system.

Important ions such as salt and potassium are CRUCIAL for the proper balance of charges.

When we sweat, pee, or excrete any kind of fluid, we lose some of these salt ions in our body.

That is why so many athletes or physically active individuals drink Gatorade. It is an electrolyte replacement drink that helps to replace the salts that they lose through sweat and physical activity.

Why Not Gatorade?

I don’t have a massive issue with Gatorade, but I do not think it is the best option for anyone trying to heal their gut or support their nervous system.

If you take a look at the different ingredients lists for the various flavors, you may see just what I am talking about.

Gatorade contains too much sugar for my liking.

One bottle contains about 34 grams of sugar, which is not beneficial for anyone with Gutsy issues. This high amount of sugar provides further fuel for the growth of bacteria, parasites, and yeasts.

The artificial flavors that make the drink so delicious are also delicious to all those pathogens in your GI tract. It also contains artificial colors, which are full of molecules that our body simply does not need.

Remember that the more unprocessed something is, the better it is for our gut.

Gatorade contains a solid electrolyte blend, but fails to target all the essential electrolytes our body needs.

While the formula contains 80 mg of potassium and 270 mg of sodium, it lacks other essential ions such as magnesium.

Of course, this can still be a good option if you want to get in some extra electrolytes, just be careful not to overdo it. It may not be the best choice for electrolytes, but it still gets the job done.

Sugar Free Electrolytes Drinks (and common electrolyte misconceptions) what are electrolytes agutsygirl.com #electrolyte #electrolytes

Functions of Electrolytes

In addition to helping with the nervous system, electrolytes also have many other functions across the body.

These include:

  • establishing muscle function- muscle contractions and relaxation
  • helping with the concentration and balance of water
  • establishing brain function
  • removing waste inside of cells
  • establishing heart function

As you can see electrolytes are essential nutrients for our entire body.

These molecules help to support key organs such as our heart, brain, kidneys, and virtually every other organ.

Without them our nervous system would not be able to function properly, resulting in an inability for our body to send its necessary signals.

Why supplement with electrolytes?

I personally started getting super interested in supplementing with them when I practiced intermittent fasting for SIBO healing.

According to LMNT, here are three big reasons why the Gutsy community would supplement with electrolytes:

1. Fasting increases sodium loss

  • When you fast, the hormone insulin stays low. This signals your kidneys to excrete more sodium—a process called natriuresis.
  • Supplementation may prevent electrolyte disturbances during extended fasts.

But it is more than just the fasting aspect.

2. Many women with gut issues also deal with some sort of hormonal imbalance. I was one of them.

  • Sodium restriction puts your body into survival mode, raising blood pressure via hormones like aldosterone.
  • Low sodium elevates stress hormones like cortisol, norepinephrine, and epinephrine.

3. And finally, the immune system!

I will never stop talking about the gut-immune connection.

  • Hyponatremia is linked to increased mortality in cancer patients.
  • Low potassium (hypokalemia) is a risk factor for severe COVID-19. Potassium supplements appear to help.

Signs of an Electrolyte Imbalance

Click HERE to save these signs for later.

LMNT electrolytes gatorade substitute agutsygirl.com #lmnt #electrolytes

I personally am a big believer in drinking electrolytes everyday, but there are some signs that are red flags for electrolyte imbalances in the body.

This can mean that you either have higher or lower electrolyte levels than the body needs.

These red flags include:

  • headaches
  • brain fog
  • confusion
  • nausea
  • chronic fatigue
  • muscle spasms
  • irregular heartbeat

Since these are somewhat vague and can be indicators of other disease, it is always important to get your nutrient levels checked routinely by your healthcare provider. This is a great option for making sure you are maintaining proper electrolyte balance in the body. (source)

Now, I would be remiss to write this entire article and not address electrolytes as they relate to workouts and exercise.

Gatorade Substitute {+ 5 Alternatives} agutsygirl.com

12 Facts (and Other Information) Relating to Endurance Hydration Needs

During endurance exercise, your stomach will naturally be exposed to stress.

  1. Proper hydration (with the right mix of carbs and electrolytes) will mitigate the stress put on the stomach by delivering fluid to working muscles.
  2. The goal for endurance hydration is to get oxygen to working muscles, water helps transport oxygen to muscles faster. The right carb/electrolyte mix will help water transport oxygen much faster. 
  3. It a myth that you do not need to hydrate or fuel the first hour of a long run or workout. Your intestines (which will absorb the nutrients you consume) will be under the least amount of stress during the beginning portions of a run. Therefore, drinking early and often will allow you to maximize absorption of those nutrients.
  4. Carbohydrates play a critical role in both hydration and fueling. Carbohydrates via hydration help absorb fluid and electrolytes. Carbohydrate via food will help give you the energy you’ll need for the run.
  5. The grams of carbohydrates that are in your sports drink should NOT count for the carbohydrate needs for fueling. 
  6. Osmolality (how concentrated the solution is) of the solution plays a crucial role in the effectiveness of the sports drink during the stresses of endurance exercise. Research has shown that sports drinks with an Osmolality slightly lower than what is found in your blood will allow you to maximize gastric emptying (how much substrate is actually absorbed) rate.
  7. For hydration, aim to consume 16-24 fl oz per hour or per sweat rate.
  8. Hydration for runners varies greatly for the duration and intensity of the workout or race. For runs less than 90 minutes, all your body needs are water and electrolytes. Additional carbohydrates are not required, as the body is not under the stresses of endurance exercise where it needs an accelerator (carbohydrate) for absorption. 
  9. Certain environmental conditions, such as extreme heat, humidity, and/or altitude will require a bit higher consumption of fluids during the run.
  10. Going into the run properly hydrated, or started in the euhydrated state will ensure a peace of mind that you’ve done everything you need maximize the role of hydration during exercise.
  11. An optimal sports drink for endurance runners will contain a clean, pure multiple sources of carbohydrates (no more than 3.5 grams per 100ml), and all five electrolytes (Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, and Chloride). 
  12. Using more pure sources of carbohydrates will allow the body to absorb and utilize them much more efficiently. 

With all of that in mind, here are Gatorade substitutes that are a good idea.

Gatorade Substitute {+ 5 Alternatives}

Click HERE to save this Gatorade substitute post for later.

5 Gatorade Alternatives agutsygirl.com

1. “Homemade Gatorade”

I, of course, always am an advocate for making your own whenever and however you can. In fact, if you want to, here are some great links to do so: Three Recipes for Fast Recovery, and Natural Electrolyte Sports Drink Recipe.

But look, the reality is that for me personally, I just want my electrolyte and recovery drinks to be made by the professionals. It’s kind of super important. Yes?!

But also, time…I make so many things and the sports drinks just really aren’t my priority. Making a homemade sports drink isn’t going to be how I personally use my free time.


My favorite Gatorade substitute is finding a good electrolyte mix, and my favorite brand has been LMNT for quite some time now, as they are made of extremely clean ingredients in powder form, and contain a science-backed ratio of different salts.

LMNT contains a blend of 1000 mg sodium, 200 mg potassium, and 60 mg of magnesium with no added sugar.

It is the perfect blend of ions to properly support cellular functioning across the entire body.

While you may originally think the amount of salt in this formula is too high, it is actually very supportive to the functioning of your entire nervous system. (source)

Sodium chloride, or salt, helps provide a voltage across nerve cells that allows them to fire when a signal is sent.

Although the government recommends less than 2.3 grams of salt per day, science-supported research has shown optimal consumption to be around 4-6 grams a day. This amount is the optimal amount to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The other natural electrolytes found in LMNT include:

  • potassium- helps to lower blood pressure, improve kidney function, and participates in sodium-potassium pump (source)
  • magnesium- energy, DNA synthesis, muscle tone, and sleep

LMNT was careful to leave out other minerals such as calcium and phosphorus, as deficiencies in these two areas are very rare. They are both easy to absorb through various food groups.

10 benefits of electrolytes drinklmnt.comagg agutsygirl.com

Reasons you might consider supplementing with electrolytes.

LMNT Flavors

Another thing I absolutely love about this brand are the natural ingredients without a crazy sugar content.

These packets taste so good and they don’t depend on artificial sweeteners for their flavoring. The less sugar, the better!

  1. Watermelon Salt
  2. Citrus Salt (Their most popular and iconic flavor. It is lightly sweetened with stevia along with natural flavors and citric acid for its refreshing citrus profile.)
  3. Orange Salt
  4. Raspberry Salt
  5. Raw Unflavored (Raw Unflavored LMNT contains only electrolytes. I like to add Raw LMNT to bone broth and protein shakes.)
  6. Mango Chili
  7. Lemon Habanero
  8. Chocolate Salt
  9. Chocolate Caramel
  10. Mint Chocolate

And finally, they offer a no-questions-asked refund policy (you don’t even have to send it back!)

BTW – I use the chocolate-flavored ones in my coffee each morning. It’s a little hack that I love and one of the best ways to enjoy coffee. If you want to hear more about this, I share it all HERE.

LMNT electrolytes gatorade substitute agutsygirl.com #lmnt #electrolyte

3. Nuun

If you’re looking for electrolyte tablets, Nuun has them. Here are a couple I’ve enjoyed over the years:

  1. Nuun Sport
  2. Nuun Rest

4. Low-Fat Chocolate Milk

Approximately quarter to never will I recommend anything be “low-fat,” but studies show that this could be a Gatorade substitute. 

With its balance of electrolytes, protein, carbohydrates and fat, chocolate milk enhances the body’s ability to recover after physical activity (source).

Grab your chocolate milk from Organic Valley or another organic source for the most benefits.

Chocolate milk usually is made from cow’s milk, so if you are lactose intolerant this may not be a good alternative. (OR, better yet, try Break Down to try to help you break the lactose down!)

5. Coconut Water

Yes, I am a huge fan of coconut water, too.

In certain emergency situations, coconut water has been used for IV hydration due to its high electrolyte content and the fact that it is sterile if used directly from the inside of the coconut.

People all over the world enjoy coconut water for its multiple benefits and sweet taste. (source)

Some of my favorite coconut water brands include: Vita Coco, CoCo Joy and Harmless Harvest.

Coconut water is great for general hydration and supports cellular functioning, which makes it one of my favorite options.

5 Gatorade substitutes agutsygirl.com #electrolyte

And there you have it all. Thoughts? What is your favorite Gatorade substitute?

If you liked this Gatorade substitute post, you might also enjoy:

  1. Benefits of Water for Digestion
  2. Hydration Challenge
  3. Gut Healing for Beginners


Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *