A University of Florida assistant coach who was concerned about the heat and heat related illnesses affecting his players’ performance on the field invented Gatorade in 1965. Gatorade is one of the world's largest brand of sports drinks, and the name originated from the university's team name, the Florida Gators. He reached out to a group of researchers, who soon found that the problem was that; the large amounts of fluids, electrolytes, and carbohydrates lost through sweat were not being properly replaced with just water. They then worked to make a new drink that balanced electrolytes and carbohydrates needed for the excessive fluid loss in the Florida heat during intense practices. The team improved their stamina and began outlasting opponents, and as a result of its success, word of Gatorade spread worldwide. Soon enough, more than 70 Division I schools were using Gatorade in their sports program, and in 1983 Gatorade became the official sports drink of the National Football League. In 2004, the NFL agreed to an 8-year contract renewal with Gatorade worth 384 million dollars, one of the largest contracts with a sports drink in the business.
Similarly, NASCAR also experienced problems with fatigue as the inside of drivers’ cars reached 130°F. The hydration system that Gatorade developed for NASCAR drivers is important because fatigue caused major mistakes at the routine speeds of almost 200mph that could cause serious injury or even death. The amazing hydrating properties of Gatorades ensured that NASCAR drivers would be able to bare the unrelenting heat and stay focused during races. Gatorade ‘s success sky rocked and now provides hydration to the NBA, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, and NASCAR. Gatorade did not stop at making one drink either, they have continued to design a number of new products including, energy bars, nutrition shakes, and endurance formulas. Gatorade continues today to test athlete performance and find new ways to help athletes achieve their optimal potential. Their newest edition to the market of sports drinks is the Gatorade G-series, which supports pre, during, and post workout hydration and recovery.
Hydration is essential for the body. Water makes up 50%-70% of the human body. Your muscles are about 75 percent water, 82 percent blood, 85 percent brain cells, and even your bones are 25 percent water (“The Importance of Water”). Water provides numerous important functions for the body. While water is obviously necessary for the average person, water is vital for prime athletic performance. Water has significant jobs such as, transporting oxygen through the blood, maintaining body temperature, and lubricating joints. Now that we know hydration is absolutely vital to an athlete’s performance, what happens when an athlete is dehydrated?
Dehydration is when the body has lost an excessive amount of fluid or when there is not enough water to do normal bodily functions. “Studies have found that athletes who lose as little as two percent of their body weight through sweating have a drop in blood volume which causes the heart to work harder to circulate blood (Quinn).” Dehydration has many adverse effects such as fatigue, muscle weakness, muscle cramps, dizziness, lightheadedness, heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Hydration also has adverse effects on the brain. The loss of 2% body weight due to water has also been shown to decrease cognitive abilities. Dehydration is affected by fluid loss throughout the body. Fluids can be lost by waste, sweat, evaporation through lungs, and nutrient metabolism. The main variable factor that affects fluid loss is heat. Athletes in high temperature and humidity cities, such as Miami, have no choice but to play in these environments. Players that perform indoors are not excluded from the adverse effects of high heat environments. In a lab study athletes were dehydrated 2.5% of their body weight by sauna, their reduction in power output was measured at 30%. The post sauna exercise was conducted in a cool room and only for 7 minutes.
Dehydration is a great danger to high intensity athletes such as Dwyane Wade. A perennial all-star and much relied on closer, Wade has averaged 37.3 minutes per game in his career and 40.5 minutes per game in the playoffs ("Dwyane Wade Career Stats Page | NBA.com.").
In 2011 Wade underwent hydration testing at Gatorade facilities in south-west Florida. He was quoted saying “Just trying to get myself that edge. Hydration is so important, so huge, especially for me. I lose five pounds after each game.” The studies found that he lost carbohydrates at a faster rate than most athletes. This is a critical result for Wade because basketball is a high energy sport especially for teams like the Miami Heat that rely on transition basketball for a portion of their offensive production. Transition basketball is simply the transition from a team being on defense to offense or vice versa. Wade and his teammate LeBron James sprint the 96 foot floor to when the Heat transition to offense gain a positional advantage on the other team. The Heat also have exceptional help defense. This is where on defense teammates rotate to various offenses threats to “help” their teammates. The Heat are regarded throughout the NBA as one of the best help defenses in the league. This means Wade cannot rest on defense. Wade is actually one of the best two way players in the game excelling at both offense and defense. He averages a steal and a block per game as a shooting guard, which is no small feat. Basketball is sport where wins and losses often come down to the final seconds, the last play, and the last shot. As stated earlier, dehydration can affect mental processes. A drop of as little as 1 to 2% of fluid levels can result in slower processing speeds, impaired short-term memory, tweaked visual tracking and deficits in attention (Kellett). As with many other sports a slower mind can mean mistakes leading to losing or in sports such as auto racing serious injury or death. Having the extra energy, stamina, and mental cognition to continue play efficiently and make good decisions is absolutely vital to success at the highest level. Wade said, “If it makes me 1 percent better, it makes me a better player.”
With Dwayne Wade turning 30 years old, he has a lot to prove in the 2013-2014 season. Sports critics have labeled Wade on the downslide of his career. However, as noted by Wade in an ESPN interview, many of the game's greatest players won championships at age 30 and continued to get better on the court. Proper diet and exercise regiments greatly contribute to preserving and improving basketball athleticism. Wade, like many other aging superstars, will need to rely on Gatorade’s many benefits during intense conditioning to prepare for the season. Hydration, and the use of the world's leading sports drink was a huge factor in the Miami Heat's game 4 in the 2012 NBA Finals. Lebron James, the league's undeniable king, cramped up at the end of the game due to dehydration and could have potentially cost his team the win against the Thunder. Interestingly, Gatorade is not meant for consumption on a regular basis. For those who aren't active consistently, Gatorade can be an unhealthy soft drink despite its many benefits for athletes. Gatorade contains high sugar and sodium content that aren’t healthy to consume regularly with no activity.
Water ensures adequate blood volume and this means that an athlete’s muscles have enough oxygen through blood to perform at an optimal level. A study was done at the Copenhagen Muscle Research Centre in which José González- Alonso and José A.L. Calbet played with the heat variable as it related to skeletal muscle blood flow. They had 8 participants perform intense upright cycling exercises until they were exhausted. They varied between high core body temperatures (+10°C) and normal core body temperatures (+1°C). Higher heat adversely affected the muscles maximum capacity to transport and use oxygen through blood flow which is referred to as VO2. Heat stress decreased the subjects’ VO2 max by 11% and time to fatigue by 28%.
Another facet of fluids relating to athletic performance is electrolytes. Electrolytes are positively charged cations and negatively charged anions that aid in many body functions. They carry electrical current to stimulate muscle contraction, control water movement inside and outside of cells, maintain fluid balance, and enable nerve cells to be activated. Sodium is the primary electrolyte and is most abundant electrolyte in extracellular fluid. Another important electrolyte is potassium, which is the primary electrolyte in intracellular fluid. A noteworthy tip that professional and collegiate athletes use to stay extra hydrated for intensive practice and games in to increase potassium intake. A simple banana before or during a workout can increase the body's water absorption and help the body stay much more hydrated. Without the proper balance of electrolytes, the body’s ability to maintain effect fluid balance is adversely affected.
Athletes cannot just worry about hydration during exercise; they must also stay hydrated after a vigorous exercise. Gatorade did a study on the hydration recovery with several different athletes. They had the athletes consume drinks with varying sodium concentrations while consuming no other food or beverage after the exercise portion of the test. The concentrations varied from 2, 26, 52, and 100 mmol/L for 30 minutes after 30 minutes of dehydrating exercise. Normal sports drinks usually contain about 20-25mmol/L. The six subjects drank 1.5 times the body mass that they lost throughout exercise stage of the experiment. After 5.5 hours the urine produced was collected and measured. The results of the study were that the athletes were affected by the amount of sodium consumed. They had the highest urine output when they consumed the drink with 2 mmol/L and they had decreased urine output when they had the drink with 100 mmol/L. This is due part to the effects that sodium has on the kidneys. When water and sodium are consumed vasopressin and aldosterone levels are maintained in the kidneys. Vasopressin is a hormone that controls water consumption in the ducts of the kidneys. When the body is dehydrated it causes the kidneys to conserve water, decreasing urine output. Aldosterone is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland and helps the kidneys reabsorb water and sodium. “If sufficient amounts of sodium and water are ingested, plasma osmolality and sodium concentration do not decline, as may occur if plain water is ingested. As a result, the circulating levels of vasopressin and aldosterone are maintained, and the excess urine output that would otherwise occur, even though the body is still in net negative fluid balance, is prevented (Maughan, Leiper, and Shirreffs).” When rehydrating, it is essential that athletes do not lose too much water through urination or the body will become dehydrated again. The results of less urination in the study mean that the athletes were retaining more water.
The company of Gatorade has put much effort into research and creating drinks that don’t sell because of advertising or any other reason than it works. These athletes are too committed to being the best and gaining any edge possible over their opponents to use a product that does not work. We personally have been persuaded by the process of writing this paper to consume various sports drinks during and after vigorous exercise. Products such as the Gatorade G-Series provide a good plan for hydration in training. The G- Series consists of 3 drinks that prepare your body for exercise, fuel it with electrolytes during, and provide protein to recover after. The first drink, called prime, contains sodium, potassium, carbohydrates, and B vitamins. The second step called perform contains electrolytes to recover those lost in exercise and more carbohydrates to sustain performance. The last step, called recover, provides the body with protein to help the body recover. With a proper diet we believe sports drink supplements can improve the quality of exercise and the effects on the body by providing the necessary boost before, during, and after vigorous training.