Gatorade Is Going Organic, but Will Its New Product Be Any Healthier?

G Organic still contains a lot of sugar.
G Organic Gatorade. (Photo: Courtesy Gatorade)
Sep 5, 2016· 1 MIN READ
Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor.

If you’re an athlete who tries to eat healthy—organic whenever possible—but still reaches for a sports drink after hitting the gym or winning the big game, does PepsiCo have an exciting new product for you: The beverage giant is launching an organic version of its classic Gatorade called G Organic. Not only is it made without brominated vegetable oil—the controversial ingredient that Gatorade removed from its products in 2014—but the new product contains no artificial colors or flavorings, and it’s sweetened with organic sugar.

“As athletes continue to evolve, we’re committed to introducing new product innovations to meet their varying needs,” reads a statement posted on Gatorade’s website. “G Organic is made with just seven ingredients and offers athletes a fueling option that is USDA certified organic, while still providing the scientifically proven fueling benefits found in Gatorade Thirst Quencher.”

The product, which hits stores in the fall, will come in three flavors: lemon, strawberry, and mixed berry. It contains seven ingredients: water, organic cane sugar, citric acid, organic natural flavor, sea salt, sodium citrate, and potassium chloride.

With 70 percent of the sports drink market in its pocket, according to Beverage Digest, it would appear that Gatorade doesn’t really need to move into organic. But there’s a lot of money to be made in the burgeoning sector. In 2015, sales of organic products in the U.S. hit a record high of $43.3 billion, according to the Organic Trade Association—up 11 percent from 2014. “Fresh juices and drinks,” such as bottled cold-pressed juice, charted the fastest growth in 2015, with sales increasing by more than a third over the prior year. While organic sports drinks might not fall into that exact category, demand for organic beverages is on the rise.

Does making Gatorade organic change much of anything from a health perspective?

The new product is more “natural,” according to Haemi Choi, a sports medicine doctor at Loyola University Medical Center, who spoke with NPR. “But I don’t think it’s healthier per se. It’s pretty similar,” she said. While G Organic may be made with organic sugar, it doesn’t contain any less sugar than Gatorade’s other products. Organic sugar is still sugar.

Each 16.9-ounce bottle of G Organic contains about seven teaspoons of added sugar, a little less than the amount in a 12-ounce can of Coke.