Tip: Choosing Your Exercise Drink

Research clearly shows that drinking fluids during extended exercise sessions improves performance, and that taking on calories during exercise enhances endurance in events lasting more than an hour. The research comparing different exercise drinks shows that if you like your carbohydrate and electrolyte exercise drink and it agrees with your stomach, it will work. If you don’t like it enough to drink it, or it makes you sick to your stomach it can wreck your performance. If it lacks calories or electrolytes, it doesn’t work as well.

Research does not support the alleged mystical powers of any of the magic ingredients included in many commercial exercise drinks so there’s no reason to force yourself to consume something you don’t like or that doesn’t agree with your stomach. Some people do and some people don’t tolerate Gatorade or Cytomax for instance. Some people have trouble with bottled Gatorade but not home-mixed powder. They all work fine so if one works for you, use it. Be particularly careful with Hammer Nutrition products. They are clearly labeled that you should not combine them with other products containing simple sugars. Combining Hammer products with simple-sugar products will cause stomach problems for many, if not most athletes. If you are looking for a drink to combine with other brands of foods or drinks, don’t take Hammer. If you might be refueling at an aid station where you are not sure what you will get, don’t take Hammer. If you do take Hammer, plan to get all your calorie needs from Hammer products.

On colder days you need more calories per amount of water in your exercise drinks. On hotter days, you need more water for the same number of Calories. That means that in the winter you can mix your drinks a bit stronger than in summer. Feel free to experiment. You’ll know if you mix too strong because you won’t absorb your fluid and you’ll feel full and bloated after a while. If you can drink it down and absorb it quickly, your drink is not too strong for you and the season.

For more information, contact your coach or set up an appointment with a Wenzel Coaching sports nutritionist.