Sunday, September 18, 2005

Battle Of The Fitness Waters: Gatorade's Propel vs. Coca-Cola's Powerade Option

In a head-to-head matchup of fitness water, which is better?

With a greater emphasis in the past few years on physical activity and a focus on staying well-hydrated during exercise, several new kinds of products have hit the supermarket shelves to cater to this growing market of consumers.

First it was bottled water, but now that has been quickly superceded by the latest trend among active people: fitness water.

Clearly, the leader of the pack in the fitness water industry is Gatorade's Propel Fitness Water. We've all seen the creative television commercials that feature athletes "propelled" into various exercise activities from drops of water. The advertising concept is uniquely convincing and the consumer has responded strongly.

But the Coca-Cola company was not content with allowing this particular market to be so monopolized by one specific brand. That is why they created PowerADE Option. I previously blogged about this product when I first heard about it in early July.

But now that both of these products are available side-by-side for consumers to purchase on most store shelves nationwide, I thought it would be beneficial to provide my comments about each one in a "Battle Of The Fitness Waters."

Let's take a look at various aspects of each brand of fitness water after I used them during my workouts over the weekend. For the purposes of this matchup, I used a sample bottle from a six-pack of both the Berry flavor of Propel and the Strawberry flavor of PowerADE Option.

Here are my impressions of each along with which brand I believe delivered the best in the respective category:

Round 1: TASTE

Both brands had a surprisingly strong pleasurable flavor to their water. I wasn't expecting the water itself to be secondary to the overall flavor, but it was in both. I would have to say the PowerADE Option had a bit more soothing flavor overall compared with a slight burning acidity in the Propel Fitness Water. While both tasted good, I give the edge to PowerADE Option. In fact, Coca-Cola has offered a money-back guarantee if you don't agree it tastes great. What do you have to lose?



Predictably, both listed water as the number one ingredient which stands to reason since this is flavored WATER! But the second ingredient in each concerned me with both of them. Propel contains sucrose syrup, which is nothing more than table sugar. Yuck! Sugar is not good for you when you are livin' la vida low-carb. But neither is the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) that is the second ingredient listed in PowerADE Option. To say I was disappointed to see these ingredients in what is being marketed as "healthy" water is an understatement. But both also used sucralose (Splenda) and acesulfame potassium (ACE-K) to provide the sweetness desired by the purchasers of this product. Neither of these brands impressed me with their inclusion of sugar products as the primary sweetener. Why put ANY sugar in healthy water, hmmmm?



As someone who watches his carb intake and pays very close attention to this ingredient on nutritional labels, comparing the carbohydrate content of these products was rather easy. The Propel Fitness water contains 3g of total carbs with 2g of sugar per 8-ounce serving. Therefore, their 16.9-ounce bottle contains a total of 6 carbohydrates. On the other hand, PowerADE Option has 2g of carbs with 2g of sugar per 8-ounce serving which gives their proprietary 20-ounce bottle a total of 5 carbohydrates. I like the fact that you get more of the PowerADE Option product and still have less carbs. Propel comes in bigger sizes but PowerADE Option gives you the extra product in their six-pack.



Both products come in a convenient hand-sized, easy-to-grip bottle, with the Propel bottle just a little skinnier and somewhat harder to hold bottle than the PowerADE Option bottle. But the mouth of the PowerADE Option is bigger which allows you to guzzle it a lot better in the midst of an intense cardio workout compared with the Propel. Getting the water in your mouth quickly is a great way to get re-energized when you're sweating away the pounds! Plus those 3.1 extra ounces of PowerADE Option give you that extra gulp or two of energy to get you through the rest of your workout.



If this is going to be called fitness water, then it needs to provide certain electrolytes and vitamins essential to replenishing your body during and after a good workout. Both Propel and PowerADE Option contain fortified supplementation of key vitamins. Propel has 10% of vitamin C, 25% of niacin, 10% of vitamin E, 25% of vitamin B6, 4% of vitamin B12, 25% of pantothenic acid, 35mg of sodium per 8-ounce serving. PowerADE Option has 10% of niacin, 10% of vitamin B6, 10% of vitamin B12, 35 mg of potassium, and 55mg of sodium per 8-ounce serving. While PowerADE contains potassium in it which is good to put back in your body when you are working out, Propel has a lower sodium content and a better overall balance of the vitamins your body needs.

ADVANTAGE: Propel Fitness Water

While Propel Fitness Water has been heavily marketed to the active consumer over the past few years, I fully expect their market share to take a severe hit with the release of PowerADE Option. It looks like the Coca-Cola company has done their homework on what this particular consumer wants and delivers big time! By competitively pricing their product against Propel, I think Gatorade is going to have to come up with some changes of their own to retain their title of king of the fitness waters. Look for these two to become competitive rivals just as Coke and Pepsi have been for many years.

This "Battle Of The Fitness Waters" has only just begun!


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