A person loses anywhere from 900 to 1,400 milligrams of sodium per each liter of sweat. Sodium is necessary for athletic performance because it maintains the proper water level in the blood. If a person works out too strenuously and does not replace sodium lost, a condition known as hyponatremia will occur, which causes symptoms such as confusion, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, muscle spasms and vomiting.
In terms of the difference between Gatorade and Powerade's sodium content, Gatorade is 450 milligrams per liter (mg/L) while Powerade contains 225 mg/L. For more serious endurance athletes who can lose several liters of sweat while exercising, Gatorade may be the better option in replacing lost sodium.
For high-performance athletes, sugar is necessary to aid in the absorption of both water and sugar in the blood during exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a sugar-grams-to-fluid ratio of 4 to 8 percent. Gatorade contains 6 percent sugar, while Powerade consists of 8 percent sugar. In this instance, both Gatorade and Powerade fall within the appropriate sugar levels. Those who are especially sensitive to sugar or who are on low-sugar diets may do best choosing Gatorade.
Low-calorie Gatorade (G2) contains 30 calories per 12 oz (and 7g of sugar) and is enhanced with electrolytes, potassium, and sodium. Powerade Zero is more similar to VitaminWater Zero. It contains zero calories and, besides being enhanced with the electrolytes, it also contains sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamins B3, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12.
When it comes to sport drinks, scientists aim to combine the proper amounts of sugar that can be the most quickly absorbed by the body. Gatorade uses sugars derived from glucose, which is a simple sugar used for absorption. In contrast, Powerade contains a glucose polymer, which is known as maltodextrin. While further research is yet to be conducted, some research indicates that glucose polymers are more readily absorbed than simple glucose.