Megan Robinson, RD says Prime Energy is not a good pre-work for runners because of its low electrolytes and carbohydrates, high caffeine, and sucralose which can cause stomach upset. Prime Hydration, she says, is not a good sport drink for runners because it has low sodium content and contains Sucralose. Read on to learn more about whether Prime is the right drink for you.
This article has be reviewed by Megan Robinson, RD.
If you have school-aged kids then you likely have heard of the Prime drink. Anytime my kids watched YouTube (I’ll save my thoughts on YouTube for another day), it seemed every social media influencer was talking about Prime drinks, anointing it one of the summer’s hottest status symbols.
So, what the heck is the Prime drink? And is Prime good for you? Is it good for runners? And should kids be drinking this influencer-backed energy drink or hydration drink?
I honestly had no idea what a Prime drink was. I heard people calling it Gatorade Prime, so I assumed it was a new type of Gatorade. Then my kids started to ask if we could buy Prime drinks and that’s when I started investigating the beverage brand. (And so are lawmakers, like Sen. Charles Schumer, calling Prime a “cauldron of caffeine“. They, along with health experts and the Food and Drug Administration, believe the online marketing targeting kids with drink containing dangerous levels of caffeine for children is a serious health concern.)
I connected with registered dietitian and certified running coach Megan Robinson to get her take on whether the Prime drinks are good for you.
Table of contents
What is the Prime drink?
The Prime drink is a drink brand launched by YouTube Star-turned boxer Logan Paul and his former rival boxer KSI. Prime drinks launched in a series of Super Bowl ads in 2022, and became an immediate sensation among the influencers’ legions of young followers. Long lines posted outside stores and the drinks sold out for a time.
Now you can find them almost anywhere from Amazon to your local gas station.
Prime Drinks contains two categories: hydration drinks and energy drinks. The drinks are marketed as healthier versions of hydration drinks and energy drinks by not having artificial sweeteners or colors, or sugar.
Okay, well, that all sounds great. But is Prime good for you? Or is Prime bad for you? Robinson studied up on the labels and shares her insights below. But first…
Where can I buy Prime?
Prime drinks were once very hard to find but you can now buy Prime pretty much anywhere including Walmart, GNC, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and grocery stores. Just search “Prime Drink near me.”
Can kids drink Prime?
Kids under 18 should not drink the Prime Energy drink. Prime’s label includes a small warning that it is “not recommended” for those under age 18 or “people sensitive to caffeine.” However, if you listen to your kids’ YouTube shorts or videos, you will hear how it is being heavily marketed to kids.
Young children are at greater risk of harmful effects of caffeine since they weigh less, notes Robinson. The threshold of caffeine toxicity in adults is about 400 mg of caffeine/day; whereas in a healthy adolescent (12-18 years) the threshold is 100 mg/day.
So, what are the risks of caffeine to kids? Robinson cites a paper by American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) that calls energy drinks the greatest health risk to kids noting the potential side effects of caffeine as:
- Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature, and
- sleep disturbances and anxiety.
Children under 18 can drink the Prime Hydration drink however sucralose does pose potential health risks. Obviously, water and milk are better choices.
Prime Hydration Review
The Prime Hydration drink comes in ten flavors and includes a mix of electrolytes, branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), and no added sugar. The Prime sports drink contains 25 calories.
Prime Hydration drink flavors include:
- Ice Pop
- Blue Raspberry
- Tropical Punch
- Meta Moon
- Strawberry Watermelon
- Orange Mango
What does Prime Hydration taste like?
Prime Hydration is similar in taste to Gatorade or Powerade but much sweeter with zero sugar and has a hint of coconut flavor. Prime flavors remind me of snow cone flavorings.
It may make you wonder how no sugar is included in the Prime Hydration drink. However, sucralose is a sweetener and it’s been chemically processed to be 600 times sweeter than sugar without the calories. Most people say lemon Prime lime. I have not tried them all, but the Prime Hydration drink lemon lime flavor was delicious (after getting used to the sweetness). The Prime Hydration drink ice pop flavor was disgusting. (Way too sweet and artificial tasting to me).
Ingredients of Prime Hydration include:
Filtered water, coconut water from concentrate, citric acid, dipotassium phosphate, trimagnesium citrate, natural flavor, sucralose, l-isoleucine, l-leucine, l-valine, d-alpha tocopheryl, acetate (vitamin e), acesulfame potassium, beta carotene for color, retinyl palmitate (vitamin a), zinc aspartate, pyridoxine, hydrochloride (vitamin b-6), cyanocobalamin (vitamin b-12).
Is Prime Hydration good for runners?
According to Robinson, Prime Hydration is not a good sports drink for runners when you take a closer look at the ingredients and their amounts:
- Sucralose: This artificial sweetener can impact gut health causing GI issues, not something runners want.
- Sodium: The sodium amount is only 10 mg electrolytes which is not enough to adequately rehydrate post-workout or if using it for either pre-hydrate before training. Runners typically want at least 400 mg of sodium before, during and after a run of an hour or more.
- BCAA: Robinson says the amounts of the mg BCAAs (isoleucine, leucine, and valine) are not enough to be beneficial for pre-workout or post-workout. BCAAs (at higher amounts) have been found to help with muscle growth, endurance, and recovery.
- Antioxidants: Somewhat surprisingly, antioxidants are not good for runners after exercise. Vitamin E and A which have been shown to negatively impact muscle adaptation when consumed post-exercise.
Related: Hydration Guide for Runners
Prime vs. Gatorade
Prime is often compared to Gatorade. Is Prime better than Gatorade? Which is healthier?
For someone wanting a sports drink for pleasure over performance, Prime Hydration is healthier than Gatorade because it doesn’t have sugar or food dye Red 40 which can contain cancer-causing substances. Gatorade Zero does not contain sugar but it does contain a lot of artificial sweeteners and food dye.
Is Prime Hydration better for runners than Gatorade?
Prime Hydration is not an optimal drink for runners. If you want a sports drink for performance, Gatorade is better than Prime Hydration because it has enough sodium and carbs to replenish and fuel you, and doesn’t have antioxidants to hamper the adaptations spurred by your run.
There are plenty of excellent sports drink options that do not contain artificial sweeteners and dyes such as Nuun, Gnarly, Skratch, and my favorite UCAN (save 15% with code WHITNEY15 through this link).
Related: 8 Best Sports Drinks for Runners
If you want a healthy option for a flavored drink, drink Prime Hydration. If you want an electrolyte drink to help you run better, don’t drink Prime Hydration.
PRIME Energy Review
PRIME Energy comes in five flavors and also includes electrolytes and no added sugar, plus a high content of caffeine (200 mg which is about two cups of coffee). They are also vegan and only contain 10 calories.
Prime Energy drink flavors include:
- Tropical Punch
- Blue Raspberry
- Strawberry Watermelon
- Orange Mango
- Lemon Lime
What does Prime Energy taste like?
Prime Energy tastes similar to a fruit soda. Prime Energy drink flavors are sweet, zesty, or tangy with a hint of coconut. The flavors are pretty yummy, making it easy to drink Prime Energy and explain why they are such a popular sports drink.
Ingredients of Prime Energy include:
Potassium, Vitamin B12, Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin B6, Carbonated Filtered Water, Coconut water from concentrate, Acid (Citric Acid), Natural Flavor, Calcium Lactate, Magnesium Citrate, Potassium Citrate, Sodium Citrate, Caffeine, Sucralose, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, L-Theanine, Inositol, Glucuronolactone, Taurine, Acesulfame Potassium, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B-12) Contains tree nuts.
Is Prime Energy good for runners?
According to Robinson, Prime Energy is not a good pre-workout drink for runners when you take a closer look at the ingredients and their amounts:
- Caffeine: The so-called “eye-popping amount” of caffeine (200 mg per serving) can spike heart rates and blood pressure and may contribute to poor sleep and increased risk of anxiety if consumed on a regular basis.
- Taurine: Taurine, an amino acid that can have stimulating effects on the brain, and may increase blood pressure and heart rate, leading to possible anxiety. There are medical data that taurine coupled with caffeine can be harmful to adolescent brains. Children and teens should NOT drink taurine.
- Sodium: Lower sodium levels are not as beneficial to help with pre-hydrating before training. Runners need at least 400 mg of sodium for runs longer than an hour.
- Carbohydrates: The carb amount is too low to be beneficial to use for energy before or during training.
- Sucralose: Artificial sweeteners can impact gut health leading to gut distress.
Related: How to Carbo-load for a Marathon
Prime vs. Celsius
Prime Energy and Celsius are two very popular energy drinks. Is Prime or Celsius healthier? Both drinks contain 200 mg of caffeine, sucralose, taurine, and no artificial coloring.
However, Celsius contains added stimulants that give consumers an added energy boost but may have potential serious health risks when combined with a high amount of caffeine. For this reason, Prime Energy may be a healthier option than Celsius (and also Red Bull).
Related: Is Celsius Good for You?
Prime Energy is not a good pre-work for runners because of its low electrolytes and carbohydrates, high caffeine, and use of sucralose which can cause stomach upset. If you drink Prime Energy before your run (longer than an hour or with intensity), you will need also drink a sports drink to get enough sodium. Also, if you drink Prime Energy before running, do it in place of your coffee and not on a regular basis.
If you are looking for a healthy energy drink with a great taste on occasion, Prime Energy is one of the healthiest energy drinks you can choose because it doesn’t include a lot of artificial ingredients or a large combination of potential harmful stimulants.
If you want guidance with your running goals, including nutrition, check out my run coaching services. Also, be sure to check out my free training plans:
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