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Sports Drinks

Author:Britt Maughan RD
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sports drinks

Sports drinks can be used anytime you need calories or hydration and are essential for physical activity that is over 60-90 minutes. They offer a quick and effective way to deliver nutrients such as calories, amino acids, proteins, vitamins, minerals and electrolytes. There are four types of drinks you’ll find in this category – once you’ve identified what category suits you best, be sure to refer to our sports drinks comparison chart to see the differences between each product.

High Calorie Fuel - Carbohydrates and Electrolytes 
High Calorie and electrolyte drinks
* Roctane Energy Drink Mix - Grape Flavor does not contain caffeine
*Untapped Mapleaid - Ginger does not contain caffeine, Lemon Tea contains 25mg

High Calorie Fuel - With Added Amino Acids and/or Added Proteins

High calorie fuel with added protein
* Roctane Energy Drink Mix - Grape Flavor does not contain caffeine 

Hydration Drinks - Electrolytes and Low Calories 
Low calorie and electrolyte fuel

1) Drinks focused exclusively on providing you with fuel.
These drinks offer a quick delivery of calories, generally in the form of carbohydrates, to get you fuel fast when you need it most. This is perfect for the athlete that wants to tailor their fuel program to meet their specific needs (whether it’s for carbo-loading, conditioning and training, or race/competition). It can be used for pre-workout, during, and after workout. An example of this kind of sports drink would be CARBO-PRO which delivers 200 calories per serving in the form of glucose polymers (a complex carbohydrate). It replenishes muscle glycogen and helps reduce the use of muscle protein for fuel, sparing vital muscle tissue. You can mix this carbohydrate powder with your favorite electrolyte drink to boost the calorie content of your favorite sports drink without making it too sweet.  

2) Drinks that deliver fuel with added electrolytes to replace what you’ve lost through sweat. These drinks provide fuel (generally in the form of carbohydrates) with added electrolytes to help you perform at your best. These drinks help sustain energy and hydration during exercise – and are a great option for athletes doing physical activity that is over 60-90 minutes in length. This helps provide energy and help avoid cramping and maintain hydration during training and competition. An example of this type of drink is Fluid Performance that offers 100 calories per serving, along with Vitamin C, Sodium, Magnesium, Potassium, and Calcium. 

3) Drinks that offer fuel, electrolytes, amino acids and/or proteins. These drinks provide all the benefits listed above in the first two categories with the added benefit of amino acids and/or protein that assist in rebuilding and recovery of muscles, as well as help with delaying mental and muscle fatigue. Many of these drinks will include essential amino acids, such as BCAAs (which are the most effective in muscle recovery because they absorb directly into skeletal muscle). These can help reduce post-exercise muscle damage, improve muscle glycogen re-synthesis, and reduce muscle fatigue. During endurance events, consuming complete protein in the form of food can be difficult to digest and aren’t as easily absorbed as the amino acids used in these types of sports drinks. An example of this type of drink is the EFS-PRO and Hammer’s Perpetuem. EFS-PRO offers 120 calories, electrolytes, and 2000 mg of amino acids per serving. These drinks are designed with the endurance athlete in mind, and help to replenish nutrients and energy lost throughout their event. 

4) Drinks with high electrolytes and less calories (generally < 80 calories/serving) for quick hydration and absorption. These drinks can be used for any athlete, and can easily be tailored to fit individual needs. For the athlete requiring minimal calories, but wanting to stay hydrated and replenish electrolytes, these drinks can be used for activities that last 60-90 minutes. Past that, the athlete will want to add in additional calories to maintain fuel and energy levels. This can be achieved by adding calories (by using products such as Plus for Nuun or CARBO-PRO) or by eating additional calories through food. An example of this type of drink is Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix that provides 80 calories per serving, along with sodium, potassium, Magnesium and Calcium. 


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