Welcome to Take My Money, a column where we geek out about our favorite products.
I’m going to be honest: I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about my sweat. The occasional drip on my yoga mat gives me the confirmation that my workout is indeed as hard as it feels. And a stray bead rolling into my eye stings like hell. But mostly, sweat just makes me want to take a shower.
I wouldn’t label myself as a sweaty person, either—I’m typically not swimming in it but if I work hard enough it’s definitely there. But it does beg the question of exactly how—or how much—I should be hydrating to reach my full potential. Surely, I need more than the typical eight cups per day with a workout in the mix. But how does one know for sure?
That’s the exact question the Gatorade Gx Sweat Patch—a simple patch test that promises to personalize your hydration strategy and dial-in performance—aims to answer. Join me on my fascinating (and gross) quest to find out more about my sweat, below.
What Is the Gatorade Gx Sweat Patch?
While Gatorade has been around since the stone age (roughly 1965), recently they’ve been pumping out new products—like Gatorade Gummies and Gatorade Fit—that are turning heads. Proof the Gatorade Sports Science Institute isn’t just for show, the new Gatorade Gx Sweat Patch aims to close the gap between current hydration science and practical application for the modern athlete.
The Gx Sweat Patch is a single-use patch that adheres to your inner left forearm. Wear it during your workouts to test sweat rate (the amount you sweat over the course of one hour), and sodium loss. Throughout your workout, the patch will fill an orange channel—indicating your sweat rate, and a purple channel to estimate your sodium losses.
After your workout, simply scan an image of the patch into the Gatorade app using your camera and answer a few questions about your workout like duration, intensity, and average temperature. The app then uses an algorithm built on a substantial body of work published by the Gatorade scientists (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) to calculate your individual sweat rate.
You’ll also receive specific recommendations on how to hydrate and fuel before, during, and after similar workouts in the future—effectively taking all the guesswork out of hydration.
What’s Good About the Gatorade Gx Sweat Patch?
Tells me exactly how much I sweat (and thus, need to replenish)
The main reason to try the Gatorade Gx Sweat Patch for yourself. Through multiple field tests, the patch delivered straightforward information about how much I sweat per hour and the sodium concentration of my sweat.
Personally, that information told me everything I needed to know about how to replenish my water and electrolyte levels. Just drink the amount of water listed, and add electrolytes as needed—easy enough.
Gatorade takes it a step further by providing recommendations for what to drink before, during, and after that same workout in the future. As someone who spends a lot of time doing the same old zone 2 cardio multiple days per week, with a set of sprints sprinkled in once or twice per week, just two sweat tests informed how I approach fueling 90 percent of my workouts going forward.
After years of working in the app development space, the Gx Sweat Patch is exactly the type of useful technology I expect to be ruined by a poorly designed app. To my relief, the Gatorade app is refreshingly simple and intuitive to use.
Once I downloaded the app, all I had to do was create a profile by entering my name and email. It then automatically asked me if I wanted to create a new “sweat profile” (or type of workout), and walked me through how to apply my first patch. After finishing my workout, I was prompted to scan my patch and enter some details about my workout. That was it. From there, I sat back and let the app do all the work.
Saves sweat history
When I first found out the patches were single-use I decided I wouldn’t be buying more (ironically, I did end up buying more, more on that below). After logging my first workout, I discovered that I wouldn’t need to.
Each sweat profile is designed to give you insight into how your body works in a specific environment and intensity. In other words, if I do the same 30-minute incline walk on my treadmill, with my thermostat set to 70 degrees, five days a week, I can use just one sweat profile to inform all of my future 30-minute incline walks.
This is great news for anyone who, like me, has a relatively consistent workout routine, loaded with the same general workouts week after week. I really only need four to five sweat profiles (and thus, four to five Gx Sweat Patches) to learn how to hydrate and fuel for most of my future sessions. I might pick up a new patch or two come summer when it’s hotter outside, and I dip back into outdoor running and hiking. But for now, I’m set.
What’s Not Good About the Gatorade Gx Sweat Patch?
It kind of goes without saying that the Gx Sweat Patch is single-use. It’s essentially a thick sticker that you sweat on. Even if it did stick on a second time, it wouldn’t be very sanitary (stale sweat, yum). Plus, since the patch fills with dye as you sweat, a second reading wouldn’t even be accurate.
At $25 for a pack of two, the Gx Sweat Patch ain’t cheap. While the test was fascinating, I wouldn’t be willing to lay down this kind of money for just any workout. Luckily, Gatorade comes in clutch by making every test worth the money. Personally, I plan to use past sweat profiles I’ve already tested to properly prepare for and recover from future workouts.
Data isn’t real-time
The Gx Sweat Patch is useless for real-time sweat data. This makes it largely unhelpful for uncertain conditions—like summiting a mountain or running a marathon—when you might want to know how you’ll need to fuel and hydrate in advance. Unless you want to buy a few patches to nerd out on the data from extreme and rare circumstances after the fact, I’d save it for the workouts you do consistently. That way the data actually goes to use.
Good for specific conditions only
Depending on your workout conditions, the Gx Sweat Patch may or may not be able to deliver results. According to the Gatorade website, the conditions must be between 47 to 95 degrees, and your workout must be within 20 to 120 minutes.
This is a bummer considering the days I’m most interested in my hydration levels are when the temperature is well over 100 degrees (a disenchanting truth of living in Southern California). Plus, for anyone who enjoys long hikes, trail running, or a long weekend road ride you can count the Gx Sweat Patch out if your excursions run over two hours.
You also can only use a patch for one activity at a time. That means, if like me, you subscribe to the weekend warrior special—mobility, strength training, and zone 2 cardio all in one go—you’ll have to use multiple patches to gauge each activity throughout the session.
After ordering the Gx Sweat Patch from the Gatorade website I waited a whole nine days (which in comparison to Amazon Prime felt like an eternity) for it to arrive in the mail. On the bright side, it took so long to come I forgot it was coming, and was pleasantly surprised when I found it in the mailbox.
I then proceeded to accidentally throw the small packet of patches away, twice. The first, because the envelope was so light I mistakenly thought it was empty (oops). The second got thrown away in an otherwise empty Dick’s Sporting Goods bag after my husband raided it of his new sweatshirt (sigh). Guard these little suckers with your life, people.
Three packs in and $75 later, I was officially ready to test.
I figured there was no other way to give my first Gx Sweat Patch a run for its money than with my hardest workout of the week: all-out sprints. After 30 minutes of grueling work, legs shaking, asthmatic coughing, etc. the results were…disappointing.
Admittedly, I didn’t sweat all that much in 30 minutes time. The Gatorade app said I sweat at a rate of 19 to 22 ounces per hour (which was on the low end of their spectrum), and a sodium concentration of zero. I wanted to earn my stripes, and for once, my sweat felt like the defining factor.
Thankfully, according to the Gatorade website, “no one sweat rate is better than another”. There’s also nothing you can do to improve your sweat rate, it’s completely individual. Rather than define how hard you’re working, your sweat profile is better served as a data point to help you improve your performance—fair enough.
For a future 30-minute HIIT workout, the app recommended I:
- Drink 8 ounces of fluid within four hours of starting my workout
- Drink 10 ounces of fluid with electrolytes during my workout
- Drink 10 ounces of fluid before bed
Workout number two, I understood the patch a little better, and the data I could expect. That’s why I decided to do the workout I do the most throughout my week: zone 2 cardio. When it comes to my zone 2, I couldn’t be more plain Jane: treadmill incline up to 10, speed set at 3, Taylor Swift on shuffle, and 60 minutes on the clock.
My results came out close to the same. My sweat rate was 17 to 20 ounces per hour, and again sodium concentration of zero (what can I say, guess I’m not salty).
For a future 60-minute walk, the app recommended I:
- Drink 8 ounces of fluid within four hours of starting my workout
- Drink 19 ounces of fluid with electrolytes during my workout
- Drink 19 ounces of fluid before bed
Not exactly groundbreaking. Drink fluids before, during, and after my workout. For every 30 minutes, add a cup or so. While the information is pretty basic, in the past few weeks since testing it has prompted me to be more intentional about my hydration.
Before this test, I hadn’t dabbled with consistently supplementing electrolytes, but this week I caught myself throwing some Nuun electrolyte tablets in my cart. And thanks to my sweat profiles, I have a pretty solid idea of exactly when I need to be adding electrolytes in. At least, until the searing Los Angeles heat comes for me in a few months, then a retest might be in order.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for informed insight into your individual hydration levels, the Gatorade Gx Sweat Patch is a practical, and effective way to measure your sweat rate at home. Just note, it’s not ideal for all workout conditions, and the information is really only useful for workouts you repeat often.