Tasting Table Asks: What's The Best Sports Drink For A Workout? - Exclusive Survey

When athletes looking to recover from a workout needed replenishment years ago, their options outside of water were relegated to a few flavors of Gatorade, and that was that. Now, the sports drink aisle is a bountiful kaleidoscope of options with formulas curtailed to individuals' workouts, sugar preferences, and needs. It seems there is something for everyone, and in an exclusive survey, Tasting Table reveals which sports drink is the most popular among consumers.

In 1927, a British chemist named William Owen formulated Lucozade, a water and glucose drink to help sick people recover from illness (per How Stuff Works). Despite being the top-selling sports drink in the UK, Lucozade was dwarfed by the popularity and brand recognition of Gatorade because the creators of Gatorade were the first to market their beverage as a sports recovery drink — something the makers of Lucozade didn't realize it could be used for until the mid-1980s. Gatorade has a direct link to sports, as it was formulated by Dr. Robert Cade for the University of Florida football players who were struggling to replenish essential elements after tough workouts.

In conjunction with the University of Florida College of Medicine, Dr. Cade connected the heat stroke and dehydration that players were experiencing to the sugar, salt, and electrolytes they were losing through sweat while working out. His formula made a difference, and Gatorade became the go-to sports recovery drink on the market for decades.

It's still Gatorade for the win

In more recent years, consumers' sports drink needs began to change and, as Beverage Daily notes, alternative drink formulas featuring vitamin enhancements and low sugar options began to flood the market. Brands like Powerade and Body Armor began creating more health-focused drinks with fewer artificial colors and flavors and specialty enhancements like creatine and caffeine. Athletes and exercise enthusiasts have more options than ever, so what is the preferred sports drink?

An exclusive Tasting Table survey of 588 respondents shows that Gatorade is still the most popular sports beverage on the market, receiving 51.53% of the votes. Its over 50-year legacy (via How Stuff Works) as a scientifically-tested recovery beverage combined with added options and flavors curtailed to consumers' changing interests reserve Gatorade's spot as the market leader. Vitamin Water took a surprising second with 127 votes, or 21.60%, followed by Powerade, taking the bronze with 95 votes, or 16.16%.

Brands that offer specialty enhancements like Body Armor's pH-balanced water and Nuun's caffeine-infused sports drinks (via CNET) are specific to a smaller market, and that's reflected in the survey. Body Armor took fourth place with 8.8% of votes and Nuun came in fifth with only 11 votes. 

When it comes to favored sports drinks, Gatorade still takes the W.