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Gatorade vs Pedialyte: Which Is Better for Hangovers?

June 15, 2022

Gatorade vs Pedialyte: Which Is Better for Hangovers?

How are you feeling today after a night of drinking? A little groggy? Nauseous? Have you promised yourself that you’ll never drink again? If that sounds familiar, then you’re probably here in search of hangover solutions. Two popular remedies that pretend to have some scientific backing are Pedialyte and Gatorade. Let’s dig into why these two have become so popular, and if they actually can help.

Countering Dehydration is a Crucial Element

While just about everyone who has ever had a sip of alcohol has their own hangover "cure, from “hair of the dog” to greasy foods, few recommendations are as common as drinking Gatorade or Pedialyte. The idea is simple: if drinking dehydrates you, then drinking a beverage designed to hydrate and refuel your body with electrolytes and sodium should make you feel better. 

  • Gatorade: Gatorade is a sports drink meant to combat dehydration. It's packed with potassium and sodium, which are both electrolytes that are designed to help you hydrate quickly. And since it's a sports drink, its ingredient list includes carbohydrates, sugars, and added calories that can aid in replenishing energy after sweating or extensive exercise. A 32oz bottle of Gatorade has: 440mg of sodium; 140mg of Potassium; around 200 calories; and 56g of carbohydrates.
  • Pedialyte: Pedialyte was created to help dehydrated children recover from illness. The method of rehydration is similar to Gatorade. It has lots of sodium and potassium, but fewer calories and sugar than Gatorade. The 33.8oz container of Pedialyte has: 1,012mg of sodium; 768mg of Potassium; 100 calories; 24g of carbohydrates.

Both Pack Electrolytes, but That Doesn’t Mean They “Cure” Hangovers

While each person's hangover experience can be different, we do know what happens to the body post-drinking. Acetaldehyde and cytokines, two causes for nausea or headaches, are released. The liver is working in overdrive to process the alcohol. And, since alcohol is a diuretic, it often leads to dehydration.

In theory, Gatorade and Pedialyte's electrolytes should help ease some of these symptoms. 

The Atlantic spoke with kidney doctor and medical school professor Stanley Goldfarb and Amy Hess-Fischl, nutrition specialist at the University of Chicago:

"The root of hangovers, Goldfarb explains, isn’t that the body lacks water or electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, or magnesium after a night out. Instead, it’s just that the chemicals produced when the body breaks down alcohol are toxic and pain-inducing. The surest hangover cure, then, is something that the market doesn’t generally prefer: patience. (While Goldfarb says dehydration doesn’t play much of a role in determining the intensity of a hangover, it can be important to drink fluids if there’s been water loss from diarrhea or vomiting.)"

Regardless of how big of a role hydration plays in the power of a hangover, we know dehydration causes the brain to contract, and that could be one of the minor causes of your headache. The best counter to that is hydration, which is especially necessary if you’ve spent the night (or morning) throwing up.

There’s at least a theoretical grain of truth in the idea that both Pedialyte and Gatorade provide more hydration over plain water, in which case Pedialyte would theoretically out-perform Gatorade. On the other hand, Gatorade is often more available in the store in more forms (powder mixes, flavors, etc.) and more affordable. All in all, it's a personal choice.

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The Verdict: Drink Whatever You Can Keep Down (That Isn’t More Booze)

Both Gatorade and Pedialyte can be beneficial in boosting your hydration, which is a small factor of getting over a hangover. Drink whatever tastes good and whatever you can keep down. And... give it time.

Try Flyby On Your Next Night Out

Flyby was carefully formulated to support your body's normal metabolism after drinking so you wake up feeling refreshed. It helps hydrate you rapidly, support healthy liver function, and replenish lost vitamins, minerals and amino acids—which is just a fancy way of saying you can feel better after a night out. Work on staying hydrated while you drink.

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