Comparing Fitness Waters: Gatorade Propel, Vitamin Water, Sobe LifeWater and more [Food Police]


Creative Commons License photo credit: thelifeledger

I recently received this e-mail from someone at Fleishman-Hillard, who apparently represents Gatorade in PR matters:

Great post on calorie disclosure. Did you know that you would have to take 2,640 more steps to burn off the calories in vitamin waters? Propel has one-fifth of the calories and punches up water. With that said, we would like to invite you and your readers to view our channel on YouTube at http://youtube.com/PropelFitWater…

I’ve long been fascinated with the growing fitness water trend and the marketing games they play. For instance, as Mark’s Daily Apple points out, most fitness water manufacturers will market a calorie claim on the label (only 10 calories!), but the bottle holds more than one serving. Does anyone here measure out their serving size when drinking water from a bottle? I don’t either.

At any rate, after reading the e-mail, I was interested in what people have to say about Propel. However, I couldn’t find any articles comparing Propel to other products – beyond short articles like the one at Trying Fitness, there doesn’t seem to be much info. To satisfy my curiosity, I bought several enhanced water products, tried them myself, and put together a comparison.

My personal takeaway? Fitness waters are nothing more than “dietary supplements” with bottled water from unknown sources thrown in. Drink regular water and eat varied colors of fruits and vegetables to get the same nutrient naturally. If you need some tips on drinking more water, Diet-Blog lists a couple to get you started.

Bot (www.botbeverages.com)

Flavor Tried
Berry Bot; refreshing, clean, only slight aftertaste; tastes like water with a little flavoring.

My Take
The clean taste isn’t the only thing that’s refreshing about Bot – it’s also the only product whose label reflects the calorie count of the entire bottle. While technically accurate, it’s still purposefully misleading to market one bottle of fitness water as 2.5 servings, then place in bold letters “Only 10 calories!” It’s also nice to see only ingredients I recognize, including pure cane sugar. Definitely top of my list.

Nutrition Information
Serving Size: 12 fl oz, 1 per container
Calories: 40 per serving (40 per container)
Sugar: 9g per serving (9g per container)
Vitamins per serving: B3 10%; B12 10%; B5 10%; B6 10%

Ingredients
filtered, deionized water, pure cane sugar, natural flavors, citric acid, niacinamide (vit. B3), calcium D pantothenate (vit. B5), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vit. B6), cyanocobalamine (vit. B12)

Vitamin Water (www.vitaminwater.com)

Flavor Tried
XXX (Acai, Blueberry, Pomegranate): too sweet, no aftertaste, good flavor; tastes like fruit punch, not water.

My Take
Vitamin Water gets a lot of rave reviews. As long as you’re expecting fruit punch as opposed to a clean water taste, you’re in for a treat. In my opinion, it also gets high marks for using real sugar and no preservatives – it could stand to be less sweet, but at least it’s not using sugar alternatives or HFCS. I would treat this as a soda alternative, something I drank maybe once a day – it’s not as healthy as water, but it’s a good lot better than a Coke.

Nutrition Information
Serving Size: 8 fl oz, 2.5 per container
Calories: 50 per serving (125 per container)
Sugar: 13g per serving (33g per container)
Vitamins per serving: C 100%; B3 10%; B12 10%; B5 10%; B6 10%

Ingredients
vapor distilled, deionized, and/or reverse osmosis water, crystalline fructose, cane sugar, citric acid, vegetable juice (color), ascorbic acid (vit c), natural flavor, berry and fruit extracts (acai, blueberry, pomegranate and apple), magnesium lactate (electrolyte), calcium lactate (electrolyte), monopotassium phosphate (electrolyte), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine hydrochloride (B6), cyanocobalamin (B12)

Voosh (www.drinkvoosh.com)

Flavor Tried
Acai, Blueberry, Pomegranate: refreshing, clean taste; good balance between sweetness/flavoring and clean water.

My Take
I’ve never heard of Voosh, but I’m glad I tried it – with a pleasant, clean taste, the flavoring complements the water without overpowering that refreshing, quenched taste I get from water. It’s got more junk than Bot, including electrolytes which I tend to steer clear of, but many people like. In my opinion, this is a fantastic alternative to Propel or Gatorade – what you lose in some “repleneshment” and nutritional additives from Gatorade products, you gain in lack of sucralose and preservatives. Voosh is second to Bot on my list.

Nutrition Information
Serving Size: 8 fl oz, 2.5 per container
Calories: 50 per serving (125 per container)
Sugar: 13g per serving (33g per container)
Vitamins per serving: C 100%; niacin 10%; B12 15%; pantothenic acid 10%; B6 10%

Ingredients:

water, crystalline fructose, citric acid, vitamin blend (ascorbic acid, grape seed extract, niacinamide, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin b12, pyridoxine hcl), fruit and vegetable juices for color, natural flavors, magnesium lactate, calcium lactate, potassium phosphate

LifeWater (www.sobelifewater.com)

Flavor Tried
Blackberry Grape: too sweet, slight aftertaste, good flavor; tastes like syrup-based beverage, not water.

My Take
I had high hopes for LifeWater. I like many other Sobe beverages, and expected this to be no different. And to be honest, if I hadn’t gone to the local whole foods grocery store (Earth Fare in my area) and discovered Bot and Voosh, LifeWater would have been my favorite pick. While not as overpoweringly sweet as Vitamin Water, it’s still obviously not water, and doesn’t quench my thirst like water should. It also lists things like food starch and gum arabic that I expect from more processed products – perhaps that’s the reason Sobe markets LifeWater as a “Vitamin Enhanced Water Beverage” instead of a fitness water or something similar. All in all, it’s not a bad drink, and like any of these I’d drink LifeWater over any soda, but there are definitely better ones out there.

Nutrition Information
Serving Size: 8 fl oz, 2.5 per container
Calories: 40 per serving (100 per container)
Sugar: 10g per serving (25g per container)
Vitamins per serving: C 100%; E 20%; niacin 10%; pantothenic acid 10%; B12 10%; B6 10%

Ingredients
filtered water, sugar, natural flavor, citric acid, ascorbic acid (C), grape skin extract (color), sodium citrate, modified food starch, l-theanine, vitamin e acetate, calcium phosphate, gum arabic, calcium pantothenate, yerba mate exctract, niacinamide, pyridoxine hydrochloride (B6), cyanocobalamin (b12)

Propel (www.propelwater.com)

Flavor Tried
Kiwi-Strawberry: bitter aftertaste, doesn’t quench thirst, tastes unnatural.

My Take
Here we go, the drink that started this whole article. I tell you what, I don’t like soda, but I think I’d drink a Sprite over this stuff. It tastes bitter and doesn’t slake my thirst, probably due to the sucralose (Splenda) used to sweeten the drink. Also, the “natural kiwi and strawberry flavors” listed in the ingredients taste anything but natural – I can’t tell what it tastes like. Sorry Gatorade, but I’ll pass on this drink – I’d rather have the higher calorie count of one of the other drinks than sucralose, sucrose syrup and bad taste. Or, just drink water.

Nutrition Information
Serving Size: 8 fl oz, 2 per container
Calories: 10 per serving (25 per container) (yes, I know mathematically this shouldn’t be the case, but that’s what’s listed on the bottle)
Sugar: 2g per serving (4g per container)
Vitamins per serving: C 10%; E 10%; niacin 25%; B12 4%; pantothenic acid 25%; B6 25%

Ingredients:
water, sucrose syrup, citric acid, natural kiwi and strawberry flavors with other natural flavors, sodium citrate, potassium citrate, sucralose, vit c (ascorbic acid), vit e acetate, niacinamide (b3), calcium disodium edta (protects freshness), calcium pantothenate (vit b5), pyridoxine hydrochloride (b6), acesulfame potassium, vit b12

How about you – did I dis or skip your favorite fitness water drink?

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34 Responses to Comparing Fitness Waters: Gatorade Propel, Vitamin Water, Sobe LifeWater and more [Food Police]

  1. Kat says:

    FYI: Crystalline Fructose is High Fructose Corn Syrup in crystallized form. Crystalline Fructose is not derived from natural cane sugar.

  2. Rob says:

    I just had my first propel–natural grape flavor. I thought it was very good. I eat lots of fruits and veggies and drink a good amount of water every day. But I”d just had a long bike and run and really wanted something different, something special. I’d definitely recommend you try the grape flavor. :)

  3. Zell says:

    Agreeing with Kat however Crystalline Fructose more specifically is 99.5% Fructose. Stopped drinking VitaminWater because of it. I read in an old review made last year that Life Water has the same ingredient but currently it labels its sweetener as “Sugar.” I’m unsure whether they stopped using Crystalline Fructose or if they’re just hiding that ingredient behind the word sugar. If someone could answer this i’d highly appreciate it.

  4. Al says:

    Actually, the crystalline fructose is different than high fructose corn syrup, and apparently from the research I have done, it is pretty dangerous. It is 100% fructose which is dangerous to the liver. Also, there are reports that the one of the chemicals that makes up this crystalline fructose is arsenic. While there is only trace amounts (about 1 mg/kg) who wants to ingest any arsenic knowingly?

  5. Erin says:

    What’s wrong with just drinking water? People wonder why there are all these rising cases of autoimmune diseases, cancers, etc. maybe it has something to do with all the crap we put in and on our bodies. Just something to think about.

  6. Natalie says:

    Propel is so much better for everything else than VitaminWater. If you don’t like the Kiwi-strawberry, then you should try the berry because its the best flavor of Propel. Also, it’s easy to understand that if it states that there are ABOUT 2 serving sizes, then 25 calories per bottle, then it could easily be said that theres 10 in the first serving, and ABOUT 15 in the rest. Who are you to question the science of the people who created Gatorade, the best sports drink on the planet?

  7. Lauren H says:

    I was very disappointed when I realized that Propel contained sucralose a few months ago. I always avoid artificial sweeteners and didn’t realize how many products they are in these days — gum (like Trident), mints, chewable vitamins (esp. children’s vitamins). I always double check labels now for sucralose and aspartame — they’re everywhere, even in “low calorie” canned peaches. I use regular sugar and have a BMI lower than 18. Artificial sweeteners aren’t worth it.

  8. davis says:

    I drank Propel Berry and I soiled myself.

  9. hannah says:

    Actually there is HFCS in Viatmin Water.
    It’s called crystalline fructose. And per 8 fl. oz. bottle of Vitamin Water there is 32.5 grams or 2 large tablespoons of HFCS.

  10. lauren says:

    i love propel it just tastes great and to me vitamin water tastes like watered down fruit juice! (i also noticed if u get lemon flavored propel and shake it it tastes like soap lol)

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  13. Mark says:

    You can add Propel to list of drinks that now include high fructose corn syrup. Sadly, they changed the formula when they changed their bottle to the newer “eco-friendly” less-plastic style. Gotta look for a new fitness water now.

  14. buzz says:

    I mistakenly bought a drink (I forget the brand) that had an artificial sweetener (probably sucralose). It tasted bad and I poured it into the sewer after two sips. I haven’t strayed from h2o since.

  15. Camille says:

    A friend gave me a couple packets & told me Propel had electrolytes in it that would help me (recovering from cancer) last on the tennis courts. I liked it but did a little research, and I don’t see that it has any electrolytes or anything else that I don’t already get in my daily diet and vitamin supplement. I’m truly amazed at how gullible people are.

  16. Erik says:

    I’ve taken to trying these things today, with Propel being my first drink in that vein, and I gotta say the Kiwi-Strawbeery is easily the worst of the lot. The other varieties I tried are much better. I’m coming from the other end of the health spectrum though, as someone who really doesn’t eat right, and I figure if I can’t get myself to drink plain water maybe I can get myself to drink one of these flavored waters instead.

    I’ll have to try some of the other entries on your list, and see which one I’d want most.

  17. Leah says:

    Here’s a question for you – I’ve been told that I need to drink 12+ glasses of liquid/day – half of them being water and half being Gatorade. I had my large intestine removed and was told I need the Gatorade to replace the electrolytes I’m losing. Any idea how I am supposed to know which Gatorade to buy or if any of the other Propel/Vitamin Water/etc. products out there have electrolytes? I’m at a real loss here. Thanks!

  18. Alan says:

    I found it interesting that nothing is mentioned about the fact all these are heat filled, so the vitamin content put on the bottle isn’t whats left and this process and it sitting on a shelf for who knows how long! That’s why I’m excited about blast cap nutrition. Just blast live healthy ingredients into your REUSABLE water bottle anytime and get great nutrition. Want free sample? email me. info at blastcapcraze dot com.

  19. Hi! very amused by the website .

  20. Interesting debate going on here…sounds a lot like Hamlet’s “to be or not to be” soliloquy…

    “To be (an electrolyte/vitamin enhanced drink) or not to be (tasteless H2O): that is the quesiton.
    Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the “natural flavors” and HFCSs of outrageous concern,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles (aka legally pursue Pepsi and Coke for misrepresenting/mislabeling Gatorade/Propel and Powerade)
    And by opposing end them?

    Or you could just try Melaleuca.com’s SUSTAIN SPORT electrolyte sticks, which come in three flavors (Lemon, Orange, and Berry blast). I recommend Lemon or Orange.**

    On a 16 fl oz serving size Sustain costs less than all other sports drinks on the market (only $0.55), has less sugar (6g), has less calories (30), has four electrolytes (Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, and Magnessium) and has four vitamins (Vitamin A, B12, E, and C).

    Propel only has 3 electrolytes (Sodium, Potassium, and Calcium) and only 1 vitamin (vitamin C).

    We won’t even discuss Gatoarde, Powerade, or Vitamin Water, because they are loaded with sugar and calories, don’t have many electrolytes in them, and cost twice as much!

    Clearly Sustain Sport is the best electrolyte blend in the market today.

    If you’d like to try this new and exciting sport drink, please email me at will dot boe@gmail dot com and I can send you an excel spreadsheet that outlines a comparsion between Gatorade, Powerade, Vitamin Water, Propel, and Sustain. Once you see this information you’ll never buy anything but Sustain.

    Stay fit; stay hydrated!

    **(Note: when you get to the Melaleuca.com homepage you’ll find the “Product Store” link sort of hidden in the fine print paragraph on the bottom of the homepage…once you’ve entered the product store you just have to type into the search bar “Sustain” and it will bring this electrolyte product up!)

  21. Grade Acai says:

    I ordered the product and want to order more how quick will it arrive?

  22. Blayne says:

    I think you should review vitamin water zero instead of regular vitamin water. It has no sugar and no calories and still tastes great. I still did not get a direct undestand on which drink is actually the best for you.

  23. James says:

    I tried the SoBeLifewater Black and Blue Berry, which after comparing several of the other Lifewaters each one has a different Nutrition Facts, and you should check each of them before settling on one. The one I like which has a decent taste is the Black and Blue Berry. 0 calories, 0 fat, 0 sugar, 24mg sodium, 6g Carbohydrates, 100% Vitamin C, 20% Vitamin E, 10% Niacin, 10% Vitamin B6, 10% Vitamin B12, and 10% Pantothenic Acid. The best part is that it has no Dextrose or Sucrolose which I happen to be alergic to. The best part this one tastes good, the other one I tried tasted bad and had real sugar in it.

  24. Bonnie says:

    I’m Diabetic and on medication that requires a LOT of fluid intake. I hate plain water. So, my dilemma is, I shouldn’t use aspartame for obvious reasons. Splenda is in EVERYTHING, it tastes horrible, and it causes some people awful headaches (why do all the food manufacturers think the world is in love with this nasty tasting stuff?); and Stevia, is the new kid on the block but it’s got a horrible after taste in the back of the throat that makes you want to gag.
    Granted, the jury’s out on what is best and safest, but to pick a poison and put it in everything out there that a diabetic has to pick from is really unfair. I won’t buy ANY of the products with Splenda or Sucralose in them in any amount or combination. I wish the country would stop as well. It makes these companies think they are doing the right thing. Make the drinks, fruits, applesauces, whatever…let those of us that want it sweetened, do it ourselves!!!

  25. Sherrie says:

    I was excited to hear Melaleuca had a “healthy” Sports Drink. I had high hopes, but then found out they sweeten it with Crystalline Fructose. I did not know this was a potential health hazard for the liver. Here is what Wikipedia says about it.

    There are studies for and against the health benefits of crystalline fructose.[2]
    Crystalline fructose is generally considered safe, but concerns have been raised about health effects, particularly hepatotoxicity.[1] As of January 2010, the FDA has not designated crystalline fructose to be generally recognized as safe.[4]

    Because crystalline fructose is sweeter than the sugars it replaces, less sugar can be used to produce a desired level of sweetness, resulting in fewer calories. For example, it can shave as many as 20 to 30 calories off a 12 oz. bottled drink.[citation needed] Fructose is also an isomer of glucose, carrying the same energetic value when burned.

    Of primary concern to some doctors who treat endocrinological disorders is the emergence of crystalline fructose in place of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages marketed with implied health benefits. These health benefits are only in relation to HFCS; HFCS is still suggested to be related to coronary artery disease, increased obesity, and thrombosis formation.

    Any positive health benefit of crystalline fructose consumption is fueled primarily by the fact that fructose does have the same value as glucose when burned. However, fructose is processed by the body differently; fructose’s causal relationship to hyperlipidemia, fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, coronary arterial disease and obesity remain a concern for public health analysts.[citation n

    BUMMER! BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD!

  26. Darren says:

    I have been very concerned with all of these ingredients for years. Aspartame, Splenda, Sucralose and Acesulfame K are all very toxic to your body and actually cause you to gain weight.

    I now only drink beverages sweetened with all natural plant based Stevia. Watch out for commercial variations like Truvia, they are not 100% Stevia. Stevia provides the sweet flavor and is actually quite healthy.

  27. Caleb says:

    I’d definitely recommend you try berry Propel, and be sure not to shake any propels because it ruins the flavor.

  28. pendejo says:

    I believe gum arabic which is in some Lifewater and Vitamin water gives me explosive diarrhea. Also Starbucks blended lattes do as well… It is something is the syrup I believe, possibly xantham gum. I find it is better for me to stick to drinks with few ingredients.

  29. Dave Lund says:

    Didn’t see any info on pH for these products. Probably the most important part.

  30. Pingback: Can You Drink Too Much Water? | Nourishment Connection

  31. Michelle Stenberg says:

    Vitamin Water does indeed contain high fructose corn syrup. It is hidden under the name “crystalline fructose”. It is a higher concentration of HFCS. My son is very allergic to corn and reacted horribly to vitamin water. I found it very frustrating to be mislead by the company. Please be aware that companies are trying to hide HFCS with other names.

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  33. Water is good, but it’s not enough if you play active sports, or run or bike long distances. I knew someone who passed out while running because all the water he drank drained his body of the vitamins & nutrients that it needed to keep going. You can eat fruit and veggies before an event, but it’s not good to eat a lot right before, and it certainly isn’t convenient to chow down while your biking, rowing, running, skating, surfing … at the same time.

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