4 bottles of gatorade

Gatorade Fit Claims to Be Healthy, But Is It?

I grew up chugging lemon-lime Gatorade on the soccer field between sweaty games and grueling practices. That syrupy, ice-cold sip carries some sweet nostalgia. But since my workouts are significantly shorter these days, I find myself reaching for lighter options with less sugar, artificial color, and calories.

After Gatorade realized many “nutritionally discerning athletes” felt the same way, the sports drink trailblazer created Gatorade Fit, which touts “Healthy Real Hydration” on the label. But we had questions. Do the nutritional facts stand up? Does Gatorade Fit have aspartame? How much Stevia is in there? What’s the difference between regular Gatorade and Gatorade Fit? And, most importantly, how does it compare to the OG in flavor?

We got you; we dive into the nutritional composition and put Gatorade Fit (and regular Gatorade) to a taste test. Here’s the scoop.

What’s in Gatorade Fit? 

Gatorade Fit is an electrolyte sports drink with no added sugar, no artificial sweeteners or flavors, no added colors, and 100 percent DV of vitamin C and A. It’s available in four delightfully fresh flavors: Tropical Mango, Watermelon Strawberry, Citrus Berry, and Cherry Lime.

You can find the drink in both 16.8- and 28-ounce bottles—keep in mind the former is one serving. In one 16.8-ounce bottle, you’ll find just 1g of sugar—which comes from the four- percent watermelon juice, contributing to its sweet flavor, and also part of their unique blend (which also includes sea salt) of natural electrolytes. Let’s break it down more.

Naturally Sourced Electrolytes 

The key electrolytes in Gatorade Fit are naturally sourced from watermelon and sea salt, which help to replace what is lost in sweat while promoting fluid balance. While the choice of electrolytes differs from the original, it should be noted there’s no difference in electrolyte potency between Gatorade and Gatorade Fit.  

Natural Flavors

Natural flavor is one of the top ingredients on the Gatorade Fit bottle, but what does that mean? According to the FDA, natural flavors come directly from plant or animal sources, as opposed to artificial flavors which are originally sourced from chemicals. However, since the FDA hasn’t defined the term, it can be used to describe almost any type of food. This doesn’t mean that natural flavors are always unhealthy, but natural flavors may be more processed than you think.

Purified Stevia Extract

Stevia is considered a safe, low-calorie sweetener. The appeal: a sugar replacement with almost no calories. If you’re trying to lose weight, stevia may be of interest. However, more research is needed to provide conclusive evidence on its effect on weight management, diabetes, and other health issues. For Gatorade Fit, stevia yields only 1g of total added sugar, a welcome improvement to Gatorade.

Synthetic Vitamins

The vitamins found in Gatorade Fit are synthetic: Ascorbic acid (vitamin C), niacinamide (vitamin B3), beta carotene (vitamin A), calcium pantothenate (vitamin B5), and pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6).

Synthetic vitamins aren’t uncommon in foods and supplements. Unfortunately, they’re not always as bioavailable—or as easy for your body to absorb—in an isolated micronutrient profile such as Gatorade Fit.

For example, vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it needs to be paired with fat to be absorbed. The absence of fat in Gatorade Fit renders the inclusion of vitamin A useless unless you pair your drink with a healthy, fatty snack like a handful of almonds.

No Food Dyes

Another win for Gatorade Fit is the absence of artificial colors and flavors. Some standard Gatorade options are free from artificial colors like Glacier Cherry (no added color) and Berry (typically colored with vegetable concentrates), but, as a whole Gatorade, is swarming with artificial food dyes which many studies have confirmed are bad for us.

Does Gatorade Fit have Aspartame in It? 

Aspartame is one of the most controversial low-calorie sweeteners used to decrease sugars in foods and drinks. This popular sweetener is widely used in packaged products like diet soda and sugar-free candy, and can typically be identified on a label as containing phenylalanine. Some studies claim aspartame is bad for your health.

Gatorade Fit is aspartame-free and sweetened with purified stevia leaf extract, a healthier alternative to aspartame. The original Gatorade also steers clear of aspartame and instead uses both sucrose (table sugar) and dextrose to achieve its sweet flavor.

Is Gatorade Fit Actually Healthy? 

Gatorade Fit is surprisingly tasty, but is it actually healthier? In recent years, the original Gatorade has been exposed as being only slightly healthier than your average can of soda. While some athletes may benefit from the high amounts of sugar in Gatorade, the majority of people who enjoy sports drinks aren’t as physically active as they should be. For the majority, the additional sugar and calories could contribute to weight gain rather than boost health.

Gatorade Fit on the other hand claims “Healthy Real Hydration” right smack on the front of the bottle. The FDA regulates the use of the word “healthy” on food labels, and Gatorade Fit’s nutrition label stands up to their testing.

The substance behind this claim? With only 1g of sugar, 10 calories, no added sugar, no artificial sweeteners or flavors, no added colors, and 100 percent daily value of antioxidants like vitamin C and A Gatorade Fit provides an impressive nutrition profile. One that is significantly upgraded in comparison to good ol’ Gatorade.

Hand holding bottle
Gatorade Fit is generally healthier than regular gatorade. There are no artificial dyes or flavors, and the sugar content is nearly zero.

What’s the Difference Between Regular Gatorade and Gatorade Fit?

Each Gatorade Fit has just 10 to 15 calories per 16.9-fluid ounce serving depending on the flavor, in comparison to a whopping 110 calories per 16.9-fluid ounces in the original. The original has 32 grams of sugar, while Gatorade Fit only has 1 gram.

Gatorades, Compared

Gatorade Type Sugar Calories Sweetening Agent
Gatorade 32 grams 110 Sugar, dextrose
Gatorade Fit  1 gram 10 Purified Stevia Leaf Extract
Gatorade Zero 0 grams 0 Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium
Gatorlyte 12 grams 60  Sugar, Purified Stevia Leaf Extract

How Does Gatorade Fit Taste Compared to Other Gatorades? 

I put Gatorade, Gatorade Fit, Gatorlyte, and Gatorade Zero to the test. I couldn’t find a perfect flavor match between all four Gatorade’s so I settled on cherry and cherry lime.  

Gatorade Zero is the brand’s sugar-free option, including 0g of added sugar, and 0 calories. However, in the place of sugar, Gatorade Zero includes controversial no-calorie sweeteners Sucralose and Acesulfame K.

Gatorlyte, on the other hand, was designed by the company for athletes seeking “rapid rehydration.” It has less sugar than Gatorade, and a unique electrolyte blend of sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, and magnesium.

The Verdict

The overall flavor ranking from my blind taste test: 

  1. Gatorade: Nothing hits better than the original
  2. Gatorade Fit: Light, refreshing, subtlety sweet 
  3. Gatorlyte: Too salty to be enjoyable
  4. Gatorade Zero: Way too sugary. I was convinced this was the OG Gatorade

Does Gatorade Fit Taste Like Gatorade?

No. Gatorade Fit doesn’t taste exactly like Gatorade. Is it reminiscent? Yes. Gatorade Fit is a fresh take on the classic, that isn’t nearly as sweet. I was surprised to find Gatorade Fit wasn’t bad. I actually enjoyed it.

I forgot just how heavy and syrupy Gatorade tasted (Gatorade nearly contains as much sugar as a can of Coke). While I still rank the original Gatorade number one in flavor, Gatorade Fit was light and refreshing in comparison—a drink I could down without feeling sugared out.

In theory, a healthier electrolyte drink is enticing. While I had my doubts about the stevia (bleh), I will say the company has gone light on its addition to Gatorade Fit. The result is a slightly sweet taste, without the ickiness you get from most stevia-based drinks. Still, even in small amounts, stevia does linger on the tongue, and Gatorade Fit is no exception.

Despite a few negative points for a modest stevia taste, Gatorade Fit is a great-tasting option that I plan to add to my hydration arsenal in these upcoming hot summer months.

The Bottom Line

In comparison to Gatorade, Gatorade Fit presents a definitively healthier option for athletes and weekend warriors alike. It contains less sugar, no artificial colors, and fewer calories than the original. Plus, Gatorade Fit may provide a boost of vitamins, although whether they actually do any good is still in question. And it doesn’t taste half bad.