Goodbye Gatorade… Zico is Better

It hurts to let go of an old friend. You’ve spent so many years together and have shared amazing experiences along the way. More recently you’ve grown apart. These days it is tough to relate to your old friend. You’ve changed, and so has she.

The above statements aptly apply to my former workout buddy: Gatorade. I’ve chugged countless gallons of the stuff. There is no doubt that it has done its job admirably. I guess the problems lies in the fact I’ve been moving over to natural products. Many of the feats science pulls off today have already been achieved by nature. Often the natural route works better while being more in tune with human physiology.

Coconut water is nature’s sports drink. It has all the benefits that Gatorade has, plus a few tricks of its own.

First off, it replaces electrolytes in the body. Electrolytes, especially sodium and potassium, are lost during workouts when you sweat. It is important to keep your levels up because these charged ions are used to regulate muscle contractions and nerve impulses. Your kidneys can have a tough time regulating the correct electrolyte concentrations.

Secondly, Zico contains naturally occurring carbohydrates. You need hydration to keep your workout going at maximum speed, but it won’t do you much good if you don’t have some extra fuel to burn.

Between the electrolytes, potassium, and carbohydrates, active muscles have everything that is necessary to function effectively.

So you may be wondering if Gatorade and Zico essentially do the same thing, why pay more for coconut water? The answer lies in the fact that PepsiCo also loads Gatorade with suspect additives. It contains artificial sugars, colouring, ester gum and brominated vegetable oil to name a few. In short, it is essentially sugar water with the useful ingredients you need to keep your muscles moving shoved in.

Coconut water isn’t very sweet but it has enough natural sweetening to make it pleasurable to drink. For those that like a little more bite, you can get versions with natural flavours added; some include: passion fruit, mango, pineapple, and tangerine. As drinks like Zico and O.N.E. are essentially pure coconut water, you don’t have to worry about additives that are bad for your health. Unlike sweet drinks that are acidic like Crystal Light, coconut water is pH balanced.

To me, it seems that Gatorade had a good thing going until more enlightened health freaks started realizing that it isn’t the only game in town. Natural substances aren’t patentable and this tends to scare big companies like PepsiCo away. It isn’t feasible to spend all that money promoting something that grows from the earth. A competitor can easily swoop in and offer the same thing for less. It becomes a commodity.

The only thing that bothers me about Zico is the price. This stuff is extracted from a coconut and last time I checked, they are pretty darn cheap. It may be that they need to crack open a number of coconuts to get enough water to make a drink product out of it.

Despite the fact that one serving costs around $1.80, I’m never going back to my old friend Gatorade. It isn’t particular cheap either. Gatorade has a ton of “cutting-edge science” and marketing hype on its side but at its core it is artificial sugar water. My new buddy is genuine.