Gluten-Free Sports Drinks

Which brands of bottled sports drinks are gluten-free?

woman drinking gluten-free sports drink
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When you think of sports drinks, you probably think of Gatorade, but there are a variety of different brands and formulations on the market, some gluten-free and some not. Unfortunately for those who are thinking of Gatorade and wondering if it's safe on the gluten-free diet, the company that makes Gatorade does not consider its drinks to be gluten-free (learn more below).

The most popular gluten-free sports drinks include:

  • Accelerade
  • BodyArmor
  • Powerade
  • Pure coconut water (many different brands)

Gluten-Free Status of Popular Sports Drinks

Here's a list of the sports drinks available in the United States, plus what each manufacturer says about its products' gluten content:

  • Accelerade. Accelerade, made by PacificHealth Labs, is "a protein-powered sports drink." PacificHealth also makes Endurox, another sports beverage product. Both contain milk and soy, and several products also contain maltodextrin derived from corn. According to the company: "All of our Gels (Accel Gels, 2nd Surge Gels and Body Glove Surge Gels) are completely Gluten Free. Our Powder products (Accelerade, Accelerade Hydro and Endurox R4 and our Recovery Bar) are Gluten Free, however, they are manufactured in a facilities that produces wheat. These facilities are GMP certified and flush all of their lines between productions, but if you are highly sensitive, it could be an issue."
  • BodyArmor. BodyArmor makes three different product lines: Sports Drink, Lyte Sports Drink, and Super Water (water with added electrolytes). All are labeled "gluten-free." Sports Drink comes in nine different fruit flavors, while Lyte Sports Drink (billed as such since it has less than one-third calories and far less sugar than the regular Sports Drink) is offered in just one flavor: Peach Mango. All BodyArmor sports drinks (except for Super Water)  contain coconut water as a main ingredient.
  • Gatorade. This ubiquitous sports drink is produced by a division of PepsiCo. According to the company: "None of the ingredients in Gatorade ready-to-drink, Gatorade mix (bulk and sticks), G2 products, Protein Recovery Shakes and Prime Energy Chews are derived from grains or flours that have been linked to gluten sensitivity. While these products are not formulated using gluten-containing ingredients, they have NOT been tested to be gluten-free. There is a possibility the ingredients were exposed to/stored next to gluten-containing foods during processing." Meanwhile, the Gatorade Prime Nutrition Bar "contains ingredients that may have gluten protein content." Therefore, you unfortunately should steer clear of Gatorade products.
  • G2 sports drinks. These beverages, also produced by PepsiCo., come in 16 different fruit flavors and are essentially a low-calorie version of Gatorade. The company states that G2 beverages contain no gluten ingredients, but there's a risk of gluten cross-contamination in processing.
  • Powerade. The Coca-Cola Co. makes Powerade. According to Coke's gluten-free list, all flavors of Powerade with ION4 and Powerade Zero with ION4 are gluten-free to 20 parts per million in the United States. In Canada, the only Powerade flavor on the gluten-free list is Powerade Berry Blitz.
  • Propel Electrolyte Water. Propel is made by the same PepsiCo division as Gatorade. According to the company: "None of the ingredients in Propel Electrolyte Water are derived from grains or flours that have been linked to gluten sensitivity."
  • R.W. Knudsen. You might not think of these drinks as traditional sports drinks, since they're produced by a brand better known for its 100% organic fruit juices than its performance products. But R.W. Knudsen makes Recharge sports drinks in six flavors: grape, lemon, mixed berry, orange, organic lemon, and tropical. All are considered to have no gluten ingredients, but haven't been tested to ensure they are gluten-free, according to the company. R.W. Knudsen is a subsidiary of The J.M. Smucker Company.

    You also can try drinking coconut water as a sports drink. Multiple brands, including Coco Libre, Vita Coco, and Zico, are considered safely gluten-free. 

    A Word from Verywell

    Keep in mind that those sports drinks that are considered safe on the gluten-free diet generally only are tested down to less than 20 parts per million, or ppm, of gluten. Since some people do react to gluten at levels below 20ppm, your mileage may vary on these drinks.

    If you're particularly sensitive to low levels of trace gluten, you may want to stick with BodyArmor or with a gluten-free-labeled coconut water brand. Products from companies that don't make any products with gluten ingredients generally have less risk of gluten cross-contamination in processing.

    Source:

    Celiac Disease Foundation. What Should I Eat? Fact Sheet.

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