You had a long, exhausting workout. And you’re thirsty. Why not grab a Gatorade? The perfect drink to pick you up when you need it. Or is it?

How does it affect your health? And can it help when you have the flu? Wait for the buzzer. It’s a Gatorade time-out.

It’s become the number one energy drink for athletes and sports teams around the world. Doctors at the University of Florida developed it in 1965. They observed atheletes were losing a lot of fluids during football games. And their solution was Gatorade. But, if you only drank Gatorade, could it kill you?

Back in the 1960s, a football coach named Dwayne Douglas noticed his players were losing huge amounts of weight during games. Some of the players were losing over 8 kg (18 lb). So, he teamed with Dr. Robert Cade from the University of Florida, and they developed a drink to replenish carbohydrates, salt, and electrolytes.

The first team to try it out was the Gators, from the University of Florida. And in their 1966 season, fewer players were hospitalized due to heat exhaustion. Now, Gatorade is sold globally, and you don’t have to look too hard to see a Gatorade sign or billboard at major sporting events. So, we know the drink is popular, but what’s in it?

Well, let’s say you drank 4 bottles a day. Those 4 bottles would contain up to 412 mg of sodium, up to 42 g (1.5 oz) of carbohydrates, and here’s the big one, 136 g (5 oz) of sugar.

To put this in context, the American Heart Association says women should not exceed 25 g (6 tsp) of sugar per day, and 37.7 g (9 tsp) for men. So, if you drank 4 bottles of Gatorade, you would be getting three to six times your recommended daily allowance of sugar. That can only mean bad news.

Gatorade helps athletes recover from intensive workouts and sports. But, most of us aren’t even close to that level of activity. So, what could happen to your body if you only drank Gatorade?

First off, your body can’t use those high amounts of sugar. And we know that high levels of sugar in your diet increase your risk of getting heart disease or type 2 diabetes.

And, remember what all that sugar would do to your teeth. Sugar feeds the bacteria in your mouth, leaving acid around your teeth. That can cause your enamel to decay. Also, have you ever heard the advice about drinking Gatorade when you have the flu? Do you think it works?

Well, before Gatorade, people seemed to do just fine by drinking water to rehydrate. But, Gatorade does contain a lot of electrolytes, which should help if you have lost a lot of fluids from fever, vomiting, or diarrhea.

It’s a sort of one-stop shop for recovering from the flu. But, experts say you will still recover fine the old-fashioned way, by consuming plenty of water and some chicken soup. So, you’ve probably been waiting for this question.

If you only drank Gatorade, would you be OK? Or could it kill you? Well, let’s say you only drank it for 24 hours. You would have no problems. But keep drinking it, and in the long term, you’re probably going to develop some serious health issues.

Imagine yourself being overweight with rotten teeth. It comes down to how much sugar and sodium are in the drink. For most people, it’s just way too much. But, drinking Gatorade isn’t always bad for you. If you need it after a long workout or a tough sports game, it can help you replenish fluid and electrolytes.

So, if you’re finding yourself grabbing a Gatorade instead of a bottle of water, maybe you need to think twice. Your long-term health could depend on it. And hey, before I forget this, if Gatorade isn’t to your taste, maybe you’d like something bitter. Like coffee. What if you only drank coffee?

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