Maintaining adequate hydration levels is essential to your health.
Insufficient water intakes or excessive water losses may lead to dehydration, affecting consciousness, mental and exercise performance, and your overall health (
Your body loses water through your urine, sweat, breath, and feces. These losses increase when you’re sick or exercising.
Both Pedialyte and Gatorade are rehydration drinks, meaning they provide fluids and electrolytes — or minerals — to prevent or fight dehydration.
This article discusses Pedialyte and Gatorade and reviews their main differences and most common uses.
Pedialyte and Gatorade are both designed to prevent or treat dehydration.
In fact, thanks to their electrolyte content, they’re more effective than water at rehydrating.
This is because when you become dehydrated, your body loses water and electrolytes — a group of minerals that’s essential for normal bodily function (
Both drinks provide water, sugar, and electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium. Nevertheless, despite their shared ingredients and goal, they’re slightly different products.
Pedialyte is an oral rehydration solution (ORS). ORS’s are designed to optimize fluid absorption and generally effective at treating dehydration (
Gatorade is known for being a sports drink. It was designed to fuel athletes and replenish what they lose through sweat during physical activity, thus promoting good sports performance.
Both brands offer various products to meet varying hydration needs and demands.
Pedialyte and Gatorade are two rehydration drinks designed to prevent or treat dehydration.
As mentioned before, both drinks aim to prevent dehydration.
That said, their nutritional profiles and target market differ.
The table below compares a 12-ounce (360-mL) serving of Pedialyte and Gatorade’s products for similar purposes (4, 5):
|Calories||Carbs (grams)||Sugar (grams)||Sodium||Potassium|
|Pedialyte Classic||35||9||9||16% of the Daily Value (DV)||6% of the DV|
|Pedialyte Sport||30||9||5||21% of the DV||11% of the DV|
|Gatorade Thirst Quencher||80||22||21||7% of the DV||1% of the DV|
|Pedialyte Electrolyte Water||5||1||0||10% of the DV||3% of the DV|
|Gatorade Zero||0||Less than 1||0||7% of the DV||1% of the DV|
As you can see, both Pedialyte Classic and Sport provide significantly fewer calories and sugar than Gatorade’s Thirst Quencher.
They also pack two to three times the amount of sodium and a considerably higher amount of potassium.
Additionally, Pedialyte Classic provides 25% of the Daily Value (DV) for zinc to support your immune system.
However, their sugar-free options are far more similar — although Pedialyte still offers a higher electrolytes content, which is meant to replenish fluids more effectively.
Some people may use Pedialyte and Gatorade interchangeably in some cases.
Still, they were designed to provide hydration solutions for different scenarios and populations.
Pedialyte is intended to rehydrate people of all ages, from toddlers to adults. It’s often recommended to people recovering from the stomach flu, other viruses, and athletes.
In contrast, Gatorade is recommended for adults, specifically athletes, and it’s meant to meet their athletic needs.
Pedialyte products generally provide fewer calories and sugar and a significantly higher electrolyte content than Gatorade. Pedialyte may help people of all ages recover from viruses, while Gatorade is specifically designed for adult athletes.
People tend to look to Pedialyte and Gatorade for three main purposes: to help them recover from the stomach flu and other viruses, to promote their athletic performance, and to cure a hangover.
Dehydration from stomach flu and other viruses
Symptoms of the stomach flu and other viruses often include diarrhea and vomiting, which may result in fluid losses and electrolyte imbalances, potentially leading to dehydration (
In these cases, oral rehydration solutions are considered a first-line treatment, especially among children, who have a higher risk of severe dehydration (
One study determined that Gatorade was as effective as Pedialyte at treating dehydration among 75 adults with a viral digestive infection (
However, Pedialyte might be a better choice in cases of diarrhea due to its lower carb content. High amounts of unabsorbed carbs increase water and electrolytes’ flow into the intestine, potentially worsening the condition (
Sports and endurance training
Dehydration is known to impair physical performance. That is why athletes should look after their hydration levels before and during exercise (
While Gatorade’s higher carb content may not make it the best choice for treating diarrhea-induced dehydration, it makes it the better choice for sports and endurance training.
Carbs in sports drinks work as a fast-acting energy source that helps improve physical performance and delay the onset of fatigue. It does so by maintaining muscle glycogen stores — or stored carbs — that can be used for energy (
Alcohol has a diuretic effect, meaning that it increases your urine output. As such, it facilitates the loss of water from your body (
Some research has linked alcohol intake to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, suggesting that hangover symptoms may be partly caused by dehydration (
For example, common hangover symptoms like thirst, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased heart rate are also mild dehydration symptoms (
While there’s currently no research on either drink’s ability to cure a hangover, both may help replenish water and electrolyte losses caused by alcohol consumption.
Differences in Pedialyte and Gatorade formulas make each drink a better choice in certain scenarios. Gatorade may work better for athletes, while Pedialyte may be more effective at treating diarrhea-induced dehydration.
Pedialyte and Gatorade are two types of rehydration drinks. Both help replenish water and electrolyte losses.
Although they’re similar, they have slight differences in their calorie, carb, and electrolyte contents.
While you can sometimes use Pedialyte and Gatorade interchangeably, Pedialyte may be more suitable for diarrhea-induced dehydration, while Gatorade may be better for exercise-induced dehydration.