The main differences between Powerade and Gatorade are the amount of sugar, the type of sugar used and the amount of sodium. Both provide the hydration and electrolytes needed after a workout.
Gatorade contains 6 percent sugar, while Powerade contains 8 percent sugar. The American College of Sports Medicine has suggested that beverages with between 4 and 8 percent sugar provide enough hydration while delivering sugar to the blood. High-performance athletes need to absorb both sugar and water after working out.
The manufacturers of Gatorade use sugars derived from glucose, which is a simple sugar. Powerade contains a glucose polymer called maltodextrin. Some studies have shown that using such polymers aids in the delivery of sugars to the blood, but no conclusive proof of that assertion exists as of 2015.
Gatorade contains 450 milligrams of sodium per liter, while Powerade has 225 milligrams per liter. Sports researchers have found that people lose 900 to 1,400 milligrams of sodium per liter of sweat. Sodium in the blood ensures proper hydration. When the sodium in the blood drops too far, a condition called hyponatremia occurs.
Gatorade has 140 milligrams of potassium in a 12-ounce serving, while Powerade offers 35 milligrams per 12 ounces. Potassium, along with sodium, is one of the electrolytes athletes need to replenish after working out.