Gatorade Gx Sweat Patch
- Works well
- Provides useful information
- Quantifies your exact hydration & nutrition needs
- Simple to use
- No batteries or charging
- Each patch is single use
- Scanning the patch can be finicky
- For those at least semi-serious about training
- App difficult to navigate
Gatorade has started selling its sweat patch a few weeks ago. The single-use wearable is a one of a kind. It uses lab-testing protocol to provide information on your unique sweat profile.
The wearables space is littered with devices that track everything from steps and calories to the number of reps and sets you are lifting in your local gym. These gadgets are getting better with each passing day.
But it is fair to say that it has been a while since we’ve seen a fitness device that has opened up a new frontier in monitoring your health. Sure heart rate tracking is improving, we are getting more performance metrics but it’s existing sensor tech that is getting better.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
That looks like its changing in 2021. We wrote recently that it has become possible to track blood pressure with optical sensors on the wrist. We are yet to see this going mainstream but the tech is here. Glucose tracking from the same area is also edging closer. But there has been one extremely valuable source of health information that has been ignored so far – your sweat.
Gatorade, which is owned by PepsiCo, is one of the first companies that has released a commercial sweat analysis product. Developed with John Rogers and his team, their sweat patch looks at differences in color caused by chemical reactions. Users can scan the patch with their smartphone app to monitor both the level of dehydration and the concentration of chloride in their body.
As a keen follower of wearable tech, I was getting a bit frustrated that it has been a few years since we’ve seen something truly different. That is why I was very keen to try out the Gatorade product.
Sweat tracking is one of the new frontiers. Something that has been talked about for years but we’ve never really seen it until now.
The Gx Sweat Patch is sold as a two-pack. You get a couple of single use patches in the box. They sell for $25 for the pair which might seem like a lot – particularly for a product you are meant to discard after you’re done with it.
However, you only need one patch for every type of workout to get the sweat analysis info. So if you’re going for a run that’s one sweat patch, if you’re going biking that’s another, if you’re to the gym that’s another – you get the point. It just needs to be an activity where you will sweat a lot. Doing yoga might not make the cut. Or swimming.
The patch itself weighs just 1.25 ounces and sticks to your forearm with certified hypoallergenic adhesive. On its face you’ll see a bunch of horizontal lines going across as shown in the video below. They fill with sweat as you’re working out.
There’s also a vertical line in the bottom right corner. It shows your sodium concentration and also fills as you are working out. There’s no need to worry about any harmful substances or chemicals. Gatorade says the patch uses non-toxic food dyes for measurement.
Gatorade Gx Sweat Patch: Features
Every drop of sweat tells a story about what is happening inside the body. It has the potential to provide information on dehydration, stress, muscle cramping, high cholesterol, depression and even blood glucose.
This is the type of data that the medical community usually gathers from our blood, urine, and saliva. Getting it through sweat is much less invasive—no needle or cup needed, thank you very much.
The science of sweat is still in the early stages although clinical uses trace back to the 1950’s. However, it is only now that we are witnessing rapid acceleration of the technology for applications ranging from athletics to pediatrics to pharmaceutical monitoring. And with the Gatorade sweat patch, to a commercial product that everyone can afford. But it goes even beyond this.
Scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have developed recently a wearable sweat sensor that can accurately measure cortisol levels in the body. And we’ve even heard of the possibility of powering your smartwatch through sweat.
Using the Gx Sweat Patch
Gatorade says you are only meant to use the patch in temperatures above 46 degrees Fahrenheit which can be a bit of a challenge in Europe’s capital. I don’t sweat very much so was not sure how well the patch would work. Particularly as the weather here in London has not been that great in recent days. Spring has started a few days ago, but the temperature would beg to disagree.
So for the first test I chose to go out at mid-day when it was “warmish” outside – about 55 Fahrenheit. This is only slightly above Gatorade’s recommended minimum.
My plan was to do an easy 30 minute run, and if that wasn’t enough to keep going until I see the patch filling up. Just in case, I put on some warm clothing! Plan B was to transition into HIIT, if needed.
The placement of Gx Sweat Patch is convenient. The fact that it sits on your inner forearm makes it relatively easy to check during exercise whether the transparent horizontal bars are filling up with liquid from your glands. Gatorade says placement on the inner forearm is important as this is where the sweat is representative of your whole body profile.
The preparation was simple. First you’re meant to clean the area on your inner forearm where the patch goes. Many sure its dry, peel off the adhesive on the bandaid-sized patch and slap it on with the sticky part facing your skin. Easy enough.
Once in place the patch felt secure – no danger at all of it falling off. And that’s pretty much it – you’re ready to go.
It turns out my worry about whether I would sweat enough was not warranted. About 20 minutes into the run I noticed the lines going across slowly starting to turn orange. Just past the 30 minute or 6km mark I felt I had done enough.
Here’s the before and after photo.
As I was walking back home keen to scan the patch, I noticed that it was continuing to fill up with liquid. Not really surprising as I was still sweating from the run.
I suggest that when you use the patch, don’t scan the results immediately after the exercise. Give it at least 5-10 minutes while you are cooling off. After all, it does not really matter if you’re sweating during or immediately after the exercise – both have the same toll on your body.
Then it was results time. I wasn’t too sure as to what to expect. After all, how exact can this science be? Let’s find out.
Your sweat profile
We all sweat differently. Gatorade’s app will show your unique profile. The software is free. The bad news for Android phone owners is that only an iPhone app is currently available. So no Android app just at the moment, but it is coming.
Once you’re done with the exercise, fire up the app. Hopefully you would have done the preparatory work already. That involves registering an account, entering your basic info, weight, height, gender and age.
The software syncs with Apple Health, Garmin, Strava and other fitness apps. As a Garmin Forerunner 935 user I linked my Garmin Connect account to the Gatorade app.
What I liked was that the Gx software automatically synced with Garmin Connect in the background so all info about the run was already sitting there. That made it very easy to add the run.
However, the process of scanning the patch was a little finicky. I tried for about 5 minutes in indoor conditions and it simply refused to scan. As soon as I stepped outside it worked. It obviously needs very good lighting conditions in order for the scan function to work.
You’ll then be prompted to answer a few questions about the exercise. One of these was about how hard the workout felt, the other about the conditions, and the third about how much fluid I consumed during the workout. Easy enough.
The actual sweat analysis is interesting and unlike anything I’ve come across so far in a commercial product. The app lets you know exactly how much hydration you need to recover, how much sodium was in your sweat and more.
My 6km run generated fluid loss of 32 ounces (or 946 millilitres) which was on the green end of the scale and classified as low risk. The sweat rate was pinned at 1754 millilitres per hour. So if I continued this run for the full hour, I would need to drink nearly 2 litters of liquid to make up for the fluid loss.
That certainly made sense. I found myself drinking about a liter of water after this run, at which point I didn’t feel thirst any more. So I felt the assessment was correct. In typical conditions I would have probably consumed just a glass or two of water.
In that sense, I felt it was useful info. Now I know exactly how much to drink to recover properly when I do a similar run.
The caveat is, you need to do the exercise in the same type of conditions. So for example if I ran 6k in the summer heat, this sweat profile would not be correct. So it probably makes sense to do separate analysis in the summer and winter.
The other info was about my sodium levels. This was more towards the high end at 1111 milligrams per litre. But I wasn’t really sure what to do with that information.
You are also assigned a Training Load score for the exercise (intensity x duration) and provided with info on what you need to do for the rest of the day to recover. In my case this included consuming 25 grams of protein in the hour following the run, and drinking 43 ounces of fluid by the end of the day. Other suggestions included doing a foam roll to relax the muscles, consuming 40 grams of casein up to 30 minutes before bedtime and going to sleep at a certain time.
The app goes into a lot of detail on drinks you can consume and foods to eat to adequately recover and prepare for the next exercise. Some of these are Gatorade branded, others are not.
I was not too interested in this type of information. And there was lots of it. Too much for my liking. I actually found navigation in the app a bit confusing and there was information overload.
But I did take away the most important info on hydration. Which I felt was very useful.
Many of us are guilty of not doing enough to recover and prepare for workouts. So to know exactly how much water and nutrition you need to consume for peak performance and recovery is valuable to know.
Gatorade also asks you to set weekly goals. Do you want to Rest, Maintain or Improve your fitness over the next 7 days – let the app know. You’ll get a score for the exercise based on your sweat analysis and workout info, and information such as training load, nutrition and recovery time. You’ll also get a score target to meet.
All algorithms for this type of information have been developed by the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI). Researchers there have been working with athletes for over 30 years to help them figure out their nutrition and hydration needs for optimal performance.
Gatorade Gx Sweat Patch: The verdict
The Gatorade Gx Sweat Patch is a unique product. It certainly does what it says on the tin. Would I recommend it? It depends.
I can see it being really useful for those at least semi-serious about training. It allows them to fine-tune their body and performance.
I would probably use it a few times to get the basic info. If you’re less serious about exercise and just do the occasional run here and there, the data the patch dishes out might not pique your interest.
But how many of us are really aware about our hydration needs? Probably not many.
At only $25 for the pair at Gatorade.com and DICKS’s Sporting Goods, the Gx Sweat Patch is not really a big investment. It provides the type of info I feel that will stay with you for a long time.
One day we will get smartwatches that can do this. But that day is still a few years off. In the meantime, the Gx Sweat Patch is the next best thing.
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