Are you wondering whether Gatorade Zero is healthy? Find out the nutrition pros and cons of Gatorade Zero, plus some healthier alternatives you may wish to consider.

a bottle of Gatorade Zero in Strawberry Kiwi flavor.

Gatorade Zero Facts 

Gatorade Zero is a sugar-free sports drink made by PepsiCo for athletes and active people. The company website states that it replenishes electrolytes without the addition of sugar

Gatorade Zero does not contain any of the eight major allergens, is caffeine-free, sugar-free, and contains around 5 to 10 calories per serving.

It is available in various bottle sizes and flavors, including Berry, Cool Blue, Fruit Punch, Glacier Cherry, Grape, Lemon Lime, Lime Cucumber, and Orange.

Some of the ingredients listed on the label are highly processed chemicals though, which makes it questionable whether this drink is healthy or a good option after intense exercise.

Some ingredients it contains are Monopotassium Phosphate, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Glycerol Ester of Rosin, and various food dyes, depending on the drink’s flavor and color. 

a woman drinking out of a Gatorade bottle.

Gatorade Zero Ingredients 

Gatorade Zero drinks have a long list of ingredients, and many are chemicals.

Here are some of the major ingredients listed on the nutrition label so you can help determine if this drink may have negative effects for certain health conditions or health issues.

Monopotassium Phosphate 

Monopotassium Phosphate is a common additive found in processed foods and nutritional supplements. It is also used as a fertilizer. This additive consists of dietary minerals and is considered safe by the FDA. 

Despite its reported safety, it’s essential to know that people with kidney disease, heart disease, or adrenal gland disorders may be adversely affected by this ingredient.

If you’re unsure whether Monopotassium Phosphate is safe to consume, it’s best to check with your healthcare provider to determine the potential risks.

Sucralose 

a spoon full of sucralose spilling onto a wooden table.
Sucralose.

Sucralose is a chemical used to replace sugar.

Despite FDA approval, many health-conscious people don’t consider Sucralose as a healthy ingredient due to various scientific studies.

This study revealed that consuming Sucralose long-term can cause toxicity and other health problems. It reduces good gut bacteria, which can harm the gut microbiome and cause it to stop working correctly. Sucralose also causes inflammation and may contribute to obesity and diabetes. 

If you choose to include this ingredient in your diet, it’s best to do so cautiously and consider avoiding using it long-term. 

Acesulfame Potassium 

Also known as Acesulfame K, this artificial sweetener is 200 times sweeter than sugar and contains zero calories. Because of its bitter aftertaste, manufacturers often use other sweeteners like Sucralose or Aspartame with Acesulfame Potassium.

Acesulfame Potassium is a highly controversial additive. This study recommends further research to determine whether this artificial sweetener is carcinogenic and to rule out any other health risks associated with using it. 

It’s important to note that even though the FDA has approved Acesulfame Potassium as a food additive, the organization recommends consuming no more than 15 milligrams per body weight per day. It means that a person who weighs 132 pounds should consume at most 0.9 grams of the additive per day. 

Glycerol Ester of Rosin 

granules of rosin on a white background.
Rosin granules.

Glycerol Ester of Rosin is made from tree stumps of long-leaf pine trees. Manufacturers add this food additive as a thickener and stabilizer.

Despite minor problems with allergies, Glycerol Ester of Rosin is considered a safe additive. However, recent studies recommend further study to affirm this additive’s safety in terms of toxicity. 

Artificial Colors

yellow, green and red food coloring bottles, with the red turned on its side spilling out.

Gatorade Zero is available in different flavors and colors.

Depending on the variety, the drink contains Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 6, or Yellow 5, and all have potential health risks. A

vital concern around artificial food colorings is the potential to cause allergic reactions, including hives and asthma. People prone to these reactions may be more likely to react to certain food dyes. 

Let’s explore the artificial colors Gatorade Zero contains.

Red 40 

This artificial color contains benzidine, a human and animal carcinogen. Despite this, the FDA presumes it is safe when consumed in smaller quantities.

However, this study established a link between red food dye and bowel disease. Research like this study, and others, explore the connection between red food dye and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in kids. 

Based on scientific studies, there’s overwhelming concern that red food dye may not be safe to consume. It can deplete minerals like iron and zinc, essential for development and growth. It causes chemical changes in the brain and can cause hypersensitivity, which causes inflammation and other allergic reactions.

It would be best not to consume this ingredient or use it with extreme caution, especially regarding children.

Blue 1 

Research revealed that Blue 1 inhibited nerve cell development which may affect unborn fetuses.

This study found that Blue 1 food dye can have genotoxic and cytotoxic effects. Further research showed that it could cause tumors in rats. 

Yellow 5 and Yellow 6

Like Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 also contain the carcinogen benzidine, which the FDA presumes is safe in low levels. Yellow 6 also contains 4-amino-biphenyl.

It is up to you to decide if you feel comfortable ingesting a carcinogen at all. This study found that Yellow 5 can cause DNA damage in blood cells. 

Nutrition Pros

Gatorade Zero contains electrolytes that can help to replenish electrolytes lost during strenuous physical activity.

It is free from the top eight food allergens. It does not contain caffeine or added sugar and has very few calories, especially compared to original Gatorade. 

The Gatorade Berry and Glacier Cherry flavors don’t contain artificial flavors, and the Berry flavor is sweetened with vegetable juice concentrate. The Glacier Cherry flavor is not artificially dyed.

Nutrition Cons 

This product is manufactured and sold in plastic bottles, which is not good for the environment.

The ingredients in most varieties of Gatorade Zero include various processed chemicals, artificial sweeteners, and artificial colors, which may adversely affect health. 

Even though Gatorade Zero is sugar-free and free from the main allergens, it is not necessarily sweetened by a healthy alternative. Sucralose and Acesulfame Potassium are both highly controversial ingredients with several health risks. 

Nutrition FAQs

Is Gatorade Zero healthy? 

Although some people may consider Gatorade Zero healthier than regular Gatorade because it doesn’t contain added sugar, it does contain various chemicals, including artificial sweeteners and controversial artificial food dyes Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6.

If you need more electrolytes, it’s better to use real food ingredients to make a sports drink at home. 

Can I buy Gatorade Zero in a glass bottle?

No, Gatorade Zero is only available in plastic bottles.

Does Gatorade Zero hydrate you? 

Yes, Gatorade Zero can help with hydration because it contains electrolytes.

Is Gatorade Zero sugar-free? 

Yes, it is. It does not contain added sugar. However, it contains sugar-free artificial sweeteners Acesulfame Potassium and Sucralose, and both are controversial ingredients with potential health implications. 

Can kids drink Gatorade Zero? 

It is not recommended. All Gatorade Zero flavors contain chemicals and artificial sweeteners that may cause adverse health effects. 

Can Gatorade Zero help me lose weight?

Not necessarily. Even though this popular sports drink has less sugar than sugary drinks like sodas, it may not be good for weight loss and could even contribute to weight gain. This is because artificial sweeteners may “trick” the body and still mess with blood sugar levels.

If you are trying to lose weight, a better option would be stick with water as a healthier option for proper hydration. Or, choose an unsweetened coconut water that has only natural sugar content and is a suitable option for fitness enthusiasts needing electrolyte drinks.

Conclusions 

Gatorade Zero is a highly processed product that contains various chemicals. Even though it’s free from major allergens, caffeine, and sugar, it contains potentially unhealthy sweeteners and artificial coloring agents. If you choose to consume this product, it’s best to exercise caution and do so in moderation. Or, if you need additional electrolytes or energy drinks, make your own healthy sports drink at home using real food ingredients. 

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About the Author: Carrie Forrest has a master’s degree in public health with a specialty in nutrition. She is a top wellness and food blogger with over 5 million annual visitors to her site. Carrie has an incredible story of recovery from chronic illness and is passionate about helping other women transform their health. Send Carrie a message through her contact form.

Note: this post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations related to your individual situation.