Sports drinks contain varrying amounts of sugar and electrolytes. Some contain vitamins, herbs and antioxidants. Energy drinks also contain stimulants such as caffeine or the amino acid taurine. These products contain as many calories as soft drinks and are designed to increase wakefulness.
Sports drinks contain 14 to 19 grams of sugars (6-8%) per 8 ounces or 100 ml, which provides roughly 60 calories and a few electrolytes. These amounts are expected to replenish or maintain glycogen and fluid levels in athletes. These drinks are useful to athletes that engage in endurance exercise but offer no benefit in resistance training or as an aid to lose weight. Long distance bikers and marathon runners are at the forefront of hydration science. While Gatorade remains the marketing favorite, their science has not kept pace. They still rely on simple sugars to provide the carbohydrates instead of the more expensive malodextrin. The optimal fuel of choice is long-chain, low dextrose-equivalent carbohydrates.
The following chart describes a few popular beverages.
Drink Carbohydrate % Sodium Potassium
Body Fuel 7.5% malodextrin, fructose 12mmol/L 2.0m/L
Exceed 7.0% glucose polymer, fructose 10 5.0
Gatorade 6% sucrose, glucose 23 3.0
Powerade 8% glucose, fructose polymer 10 4.0
Cytomax 5% corn starch, glucose and fructose
10K 7% sucrose, fructose
Hydarfuel 7% glucose and malodextrin
Quickick 8% high fructose corn syrup
Allsport carbonated 8% high fructose corn syrup
Coke 16% high fructose corn syrup
Endura 7% glucose polymer, fructose
1st-Ade high fructose corn syrup
Hy-5 fructose and malodextrin
Endurance is advanced when sports beverages are consumed which causes an immediate rise in blood glucose concentration.
Advice to Athletes: A high carbohydrate meal is best consumed within two hours after exercise. In the absence of carbohydrate replenishment, muscle and liver glycogen stores are depleted quicker. Diminished glycogen stores, lowers the endurance of the athlete and hinders performance.
Intense training depletes glycogen fuel stores. Good dietary habits replenish glycogen. The Athlete’s Solution recommends a natural botanical approach to eating versus the protein-rich, high fat one advocated by many diet gurus.