Gatorade, likely the first bottled beverage you think of when it comes to sports recovery drinks, is expanding its beverage lineup. After all, athletes can’t survive on Cool Blue alone. CNN reports that there’s a new drink coming starting early next year—but don’t get excited for any new flavors, because the latest product launch is nothing more than unflavored water.
Gatorade Water isn’t just the usual filtered water repackaged from the municipal water system. Instead, the product falls into a different, trendier category known as functional water.
Functional water is certainly water at its core, but it also claims utility beyond just boring old hydration. According to the announcement, Gatorade Water will be H2O filtered through a “7-step, enhanced filtration process” and will be alkaline water with 65mg-90mg of sodium per bottle and enhanced pH levels. If that just sounds like a whole lot of marketing speak, you’re certainly not alone. Here’s a guide on how to decode all the claims on store-bought water.
Gatorade Water, whose electrolyte infusion is intended to produce “a refreshing and crisp taste,” will hit shelves in early 2024, available in one-liter bottles, 700ml sport cap bottles, and 700ml six-packs.
Gatorade president Michael Del Pozzo says that many consumers aren’t interested in the enhanced water category for any specific reason. “Most cases, it’s because it’s not a brand that they know and trust,” he said in a statement.
It’s reasonable to assume that Gatorade is selling functional water in part because enhanced waters are more expensive than, say, a bottle of Ice Mountain. It’s unlikely that the average consumer could explain the alleged benefits of alkaline water versus any other kind, but like Gatorade itself, the value comes from knowing you’re getting “more” than what the tap can provide.
A 2022 report by market research company The Brainy Insights noted that the market for functional water could hit up to $10.06 billion by 2030. It’s no wonder Gatorade wants a piece of that pie.
According to the Mayo Clinic, some people believe that the higher pH levels in alkaline water neutralize acid in our blood, and some people even believe that alkaline water can prevent heart disease and cancer, as well as slow down bone loss. But guess what? There’s currently not enough research to support any of these claims. For now, it’s best to take whatever a health influencer says on social media with a grain of salt. (After all, many people have learned the hard way that some TikTok wellness hacks actually give you diarrhea.)
As for Gatorade Water’s health claims and higher price tag, there’s a chance its benefits match those of regular water, or even regular Gatorade. That is to say, staying hydrated is always a good idea, regardless of how you choose to do it.