How Many Teaspoons of Sugar Are in a 20 Ounce Gatorade?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently issued a report titled Sports Drinks and Energy Drinks for Children and Adolescents: Are They Appropriate? So in our last newsletter, we polled our customers with this question: How many teaspoons of sugar do you think are in a 20 oz. Gatorade?

The answer is a whopping 9 teaspoons. With 15 calories in a single teaspoon of sugar, consuming a 20 ounce Gatorade means you are drinking 135 calories of sugar. Many people use artificial sweeteners in their coffee and tea to avoid using one teaspoon of sugar, but when we refuel after a light workout with a sports drink we are drinking or serving our kids nine times that amount! Here are the results from our survey:

How many teaspoons of sugar do you think are in a 20 oz. Gatorade?

These results bring up some interesting findings:

  1. 40% of respondents believe that there are 6 teaspoons or less of sugar. This means that they are unknowingly consuming anywhere from 45 – 120 additional calories with each beverage.
  2. 34% of respondents think that there are 12 teaspoons of sugar which means they are overestimating sugar content in sports drinks. It would be interesting to understand how many sports drinks they consume or serve their children each week. Are they aware of the high sugar content and choose to ignore it, avoid it, or are they drinking it for the intended purpose during periods of intense physical activity?

In the right setting during periods of vigorous and prolonged activity, sports drinks serve an essential purpose. For example, when playing in a soccer tournament on a hot summer day, it can be very hard to stay hydrated and replenish electrolytes and carbohydrates fast enough so sports drinks are an optimal solution. But for any moderate amount of physical activity, water is actually the best thing to drink to stay hydrated.

Tell us what you think, were you surprised by the amount of sugar in sports drinks? How many sports drinks does your family consume each week?



Gatorade is basically junk-food in a bottle. Why you would drink a bottle of sugar, salt and food colouring – all known to cause health issues, let alone feed it in ridiculously over-portioned sizes to children and youth is beyond me. The mainstream acceptance of consuming this garbage is not going to help reduce the chance that this generation will be the first to not outlive their parents.
Water with a dash of lemon juice and a touch of sea-salt is the best option going for re-hydration and long-term health.


I completely agree that Gatorade and most other sports drinks are complete garbage. Nothing beats a good breakfast in the morning (about 2 to 3 hours) before a game to get some good carbohydrates in and them plenty of water to stay hydrated. If and adult is playing in a tournament or longer period of time and needs some drinkable carbs, there are some good options out there, but you have to do some research to find them. I personally use Glyco-Muscle Fueler, which has good carbs with zero sugar and has electrolytes in it too.

Good luck and safe playing!

Gavin Godby  

Your best option is to make your own recovery drink:
a few ounces of juice for flavor and color
fill up the container with water
add a few squirts of a mineral concentrate
very good for recovery and not so many calories!


fruit juice has almost double the sugar than gatorade and there is essentially is little to no nutritional value in fruit juice especially for the amount of sugar and calories it provides

Ken McDonald  

I am endurance athlete myself (Ironman and other long course triathlons) so I have a lot of personal experience with Gatorade and other sports drinks from over the years. When I am coaching I use similar rules to what I use for myself. I tell the kids that unless they are going for 90-120 minutes or more of vigorous activity, there is no reason to use a sports drink. When you go above 120 minutes, I would prefer they eat healthy foods, but I realize that sometimes it is hard to get the calories in and sports drinks may be useful in those scenarios.

Giuseppe De Carolis  

Try blending a couple of dates with water…It’s called “Datorade” and its AMAZING simple and cheap.

Giuseppe De Carolis  

As a Vegan athlete and coach I blend a few dates with water & voila..DATORADE.
Its awesome good for you, simple and cheap.

Paul Romano  

Everyone uses sports drinks, why are they so bad? Because someone says in some report that they have too much sugar? Every kid drinks too much sugar every day with soft drinks. At least these kids are working out. The parents who don’t work out drink Coke or booze with dinner. This is ironic and moronic, kids working out can drink whatever they want whenever they want, the kids not working out can become obese

Kathy Parry - Your Real Food Coach  

Children do not need the type of recovery that this product has promoted over the years. I work with children of all ages and the mindset seems to be that they NEED this. I always recommend water, some salt, and nutrient dense snacks. And NO post game treats! Can’t stand that practice of handing out Oreos after a 45 minute game!

D. Remidi  

Hello there,

I can’t beleive that there is so much sugar in a Gatorate drink!

My kids drink so much of it as part of their sports activities.

Thanks for this invaluable information.


Allison--Our Small Hours  

Great advice! Skip the sports drinks. If your child needs to replenish electrolytes and minerals, sprinkle a bit of REAL salt (not table salt) or Himalayan pink salt in his or her filtered water.


Gatorade is not a wise choice

Rob Graham  

Wow, I am very impressed with the articles and blogs from this site. Good for you for pointing out the flaws of energy and sports drinks. Just look at the colour of these things. Does it look like real food? Of course they are filled with sugar and artificial colouring. The best advice is to hydrate your child well before the game with water and stick to real foods(fruits,vegetables,nuts, and meat). If your child needs an energy boost before the game, give them a banana!


wow that is insane. i would have never known. i think i am going to stick to water.


In addition to the extra calories, Gatorade also reaks havoc on your teeth. Any dentist will tell you to stay away from those sugary drinks.


Gatorade is owned by Pepsico (since 2001) and the recipe is no way near the original recipe used by the Florida Gators which was said to be very untasty!

A great substitute is 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and juice of half lemon in 500ml filtered water – which can be consumed before an event (for 60-90 min) event or during.

Other than sugar Gatorade also has some nasty dyes which becomes so concentrated in the little bodies of kids!

Ottawa Coach  

Mr. Romano has it wrong. We need to watch what kids consume, whether or not they are exercising. I am a mentor coach in hockey, soccer and football, and to suggest that just because kids are ‘working out’ means they can drink whatever they want, as Mr Romano suggests, is flat out incorrect. The article itself is correct, as is the post from the coach and triathlete that we shouldn’t even consider giving kids Gatorade (or juice, just as bad) for recovering carbs and/or electrolytes, unless the session has been 90 minutes or more of very vigorous activity. Even then, eating proper post-session foods is better. the research is consistent on this. It matters what our kids eat after they are active.


I agree that it has a lot of sugar


What about G2?


There is a great alternative to Gatorade, and every other refined sugar loaded product out there.
“Vega Pre-workout Energizer” is an all natural plant based product, for prior to games. They (Vega) also have a post game recovery drink “Recovery Accelerator”, this product is the perfect 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, and again all natural.
Chocolate milk is definitely not a good post game beverage, it is also loaded with refined sugars, not mention the growth hormones, antibiotics, steroids and who knows what else.


Sugar is not the enemy. I rather (and do) drink or eat sugar then use artificial sweeteners. Man made sweeteners cause way more problems then sugar.


Your sugar intake has a lot to do with how you feel .

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