What’s wrong with water? A lot of things when you’re exercising for prolonged periods of time! When I go for a long bike ride or ski having a hydration drink instead of water is key for a couple of reasons. They (usually) contain sodium and other electrolytes and sugar which are helpful for preventing cramps and for optimal hydration. The sugar also contains calories which are necessary to replace mid-ride to prevent “bonking”. Drinking a drink is much easier than eating something on a bike! I know there are TONS of different hydration drinks out there. I currently have three of them in my kitchen and decided to write about them today.
Let’s start with the one that everyone knows. Good old Gatorade. Yes, it may be full of all sorts of artificial ingredients but if you’re an endurance athlete you’re going to have a hard time avoiding it all together. It’s at EVERY aid station at races. The last triathlon I did I was SO excited to see gatorade on the run when my calf started cramping. Had a few sips and was good to go!
Pros: Cheap and readily available!
Cons: Artificial ingredients (i.e. red #40 and caramel color) and some people think it’s too sugary. Yes, you can dilute the mix but then you’re also diluting the electrolytes.
This one has been around for a while now and you’ve probably heard of it. It comes in a cute little tube with 12 tablets to make your drink. I wanted to like this one, I really did. I bought it when we went to Hawaii not because I was going for long rides but because sitting on the beach all day can dehydrate you as well. 😉 I think that it can best be compared to emergen-c. It was slightly fizzy and lacked any real flavor. When we got home I used it on a bike ride and was super disappointed. I decided to take a look at the ingredients and I discovered the second one on the list was sorbitol, which is an artificial sweetener. Okay, now it makes sense that it tastes weird and has no calories!
Pros: Cool packaging, comes in a variety of flavors, no messy powder when you’re trying to mix your drink on the go, pretty affordable (about 7 bucks for 12 drinks)
Cons: No sugar, tastes weird
This drink is MONEY. I love love love it and can’t say enough good things about it. I discovered it about a month ago when my friend and former teammate, Bella, showed it to me before we went out for a ride. I was intrigued from the start. Made with real fruit??? AWESOME! Better yet: it tastes great and WORKS great on long rides. You can buy it in single serve packages or 1lb packages that you scoop into your drink.
Pros: Tastes great, the flavor comes from REAL fruit, convenient.
Cons: Okay, there’s a con. It is crazy expensive. 20 individual packages sell for 35.00 on the website. If I can find a way to get it for cheaper or strike it rich with this personal training thing I’ll be drinking this every day!
Ultimately all of this is preference. Once you’ve been exercising for a long time you’ll figure out what drinks work best for you. Everyone is different and what works for me may not work for you. I encourage you to check out the websites of these products to learn a little more. Also, next time you’re at EMS or another sports store pick up a drink you’ve never tried before. I ended up buying the Skratch drinks because I needed to spend 10 more dollars to get a good discount. You may find something good too!