Wendyl Wants To Know
Each week, Wendyl Nissen takes a packaged food item and decodes what the label tells you about its contents.

Wendyl wants to know: Sugar free version of exercise drink better than the original

Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

Powerade Zero Mountain Blast
$3.89 for 750ml

You are still drinking an artificial colour and two artificial sweeteners, even if one is taken from sugar and has no health studies attached to it.

This new product brings you the bright blue Powerade but without the sugar. When I reviewed Powerade Mountain Blast last year I found that it had 10.7 teaspoons of sugar and 12g of maltodextrin (a complex sugar) per bottle. So a kid drinking a bottle on the way to school was getting a huge sugar hit. And the fine print on the label clearly stated "drink 250ml every 15 minutes during sustained strenuous exercise". In other words, "drink this if you are running a marathon".

So, it is perhaps not surprising that Coca-Cola Amatil, which makes Powerade. has come up with a sugar-free version.

Click here to read Wendyl's columns on other food products

My first reaction when I saw the advertisement for this drink was that they had simply taken out the sugar and replaced it with artificial sweeteners - and I was right. But they have taken some other stuff out as well.



We all know water is the best thing for hydration so if that's the reason you are drinking this drink then it is good to see it is the biggest ingredient in the bottle.

Food acids (330,331)

These are citric acid and sodium citrate which are quite safe and have no adverse health effects attached to them.


As with the normal Powerade, this will be artificial and comes under the rather vague flavour called "Mountain Blast", which isn't a flavour we have in nature. To me it tastes a bit like berry and pineapple with something a bit sweet and sour.

Sodium chloride

This is salt, which does need to be replaced when you exercise. There is a lot in here, with 383mg of sodium per bottle. The ideal sodium intake is between 900mg and 1600mg a day depending on your needs.

Sweeteners (955,950)

I was fully expecting to see aspartame or saccharin in here but was pleasantly surprised to see that the sweeteners used are sucralose (955) and acesulfame potassium (950). Sucralose is made from sugar but has no calories and is also known as Splenda. It is still an artificial sweetener but unlike others it has no known adverse health reports or studies attached to it.

Acesulfame potassium has had some controversy. It is an artificial sweetener which is not metabolised by the body, so it does not have any calories and simply passes through our system unprocessed.

It was approved for use in the US in 1988 but the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington consumer group, said that animals fed this in two different studies suffered more tumours than others.

However, the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) said that four long-term animal studies on dogs, mice and rats had not shown any toxic effects and approved its use.

Colour (133)

This is brilliant blue, an artificial coal tar derivative.

My recommendations

When comparing the Zero Powerade with normal Powerade I noticed there is no tri-potassium citrate or tri-potassium phosphate which are in the original one as electrolytes.

You lose potassium and salt when you do strenuous exercise so it is good to have something high in both to replace them.

So with the Zero you are missing out on the potassium, but it does have 174mg more of sodium in each serve.

The biggest advantage for most people will be that Zero has only 51kj per 750ml bottle compared with 998kj for the normal Powerade so that's a big saving in terms of watching your energy intake.

But you are still drinking an artificial colour and two artificial sweeteners, even if one is taken from sugar and has no health studies attached to it.

I won't drink artificial sweeteners and a lot of healthy eaters prefer to get their sweetness from a real and natural source.

But some people like a sweet taste and prefer to get it from an artificial source to save calories.

It is well known that you need only water after light to moderate exercise so you might as well save dollars and go for the tap.

But if you are doing a lot of exercise and trying to limit your energy consumption you may find this product beneficial.

I noticed no difference in taste although the Zero had a slight aftertaste which you often get with artificial sweeteners.


*Only 51kj a bottle, against 998kg for normal Powerade.

*Contains two artificial sweeteners and one artificial colour.

*No potassium electrolytes.

Do you have a food product you would like to feature?

Email wendylwantstoknow@gmail.com with suggestions. Unfortunately, Wendyl cannot correspond with readers.

- NZ Herald

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