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Sports Drinks and Electrolyte Replacement

Written by Ryan Mannix (for Run For Your Life magazine)

Sports drinks are designed to provide the right balance of electrolytes (carbohydrates and sodium) and are more rapidly absorbed than water, which ensures they are emptied quickly from the stomach.

Manufacturers claim the balance of electrolytes, vitamins and minerals has the potential to improve performance, endurance and recovery. Run For Your Life magazine put a few popular choices to the test, looking at the taste, texture, ingredients and cost.


Endura Rehydration

RRP: 880g tub - $40; 2kg tub - $85; single serve 25g sachets - $2


Endura Rehydration is a balanced formula of electrolytes and minerals. It includes calcium and its patented magnesium formula (Meta Mag™) which claims to relieve muscular aches and pains and help with muscle cramps and spasms. Each 25g dose has 375 kJ (90 calories), mainly from fructose, which is lower than other drinks. I liked the thought of potential protection from cramps with the added magnesium and found the taste was also quite pleasing. The lemon/lime flavour was not at all too sweet and had a clean, natural aftertaste. It also contained no wheat, dairy, preservatives or colourings.

E Load

RRP: 1.5kg tub - $70 (50 Serves); single serve 30g sachets - $2


Like most energy drinks, E Load contains electrolytes and additional minerals including magnesium, zinc and calcium. The sugars in E Load are dextrose and sucrose, which are rapidly absorbed. The 451 kJ (108 calories) drink has 27g of sugar, which is higher than others. Despite the high sugar content they are easy to drink on the go and not overly sweet. I found the strawberry flavour surprisingly palatable, with no chemical like aftertaste.

E Load claims to have a stomach friendly low acid formula. Multicitrate™ is the active ingredient which is said to reduce muscle burn, improve performance, recovery and increase heat tolerance.

Developed and tested at the Toronto Sports and Exercise Medicine Institute, the E Load powder is currently available in three flavours: Lemon, Strawberry and Mandarin Orange. It will soon be released in Berry Twist.

Enervit G

RRP: 450g can - $20 (makes up to 4.5L)

Stockist: (Australian distributor)

Enervit offers a wide range of sports performance drinks and supplements for pre, during and post competition. They are designed and made in Italy, which is where I first stumbled across them, realising their extreme popularity in overseas markets. I sampled the orange flavoured Enervit G and was happy with the taste, texture and ingredients used. I generally don’t like the taste of orange flavoured drinks, but this was quite mild. Enervit can also be added to tea (as a sugar alternative), making for a nice winter recovery drink. Each serving contains sixty calories, mainly from sugars, fructose and maltodextrin. Enervit G has a unique sports drink formula which includes niacin and thiamine.

Science in Sport (SIS) GO Electrolyte

RRP: 1.6kg tub - $65; 500g tub $25, single serve sachets $4, 800ml mixing bottle $10


The SIS Go Electrolyte comes in a unqiue 500g bottle, that hen matched with the SIS drink bottle, creates a smiple and easy to follow nutritional strategy. The drink bottle provides measurements along its side that show the optimal levels for either a pre-, during or post run drink.

The drink works off a 6% sugar solution and also contains the artificial sweetener Aspartame. I found the Aspatame made the drink a little sweet for my liking, especially during and after my run. The SIS Go Electrolyte comes in a range of flavbours including lemon & lime, blackcurrant and tropical. For those that prefer a sweeter tasting drink, this would b a good option. Each measured dose contains 602kJ (144 calories) which is higher than drinks made from maltodextrin and fructose.

PowerBar Endurance Drink

RRP: Single serve sachet - $2.19; boxes of 12 - $26


The Powerbar Endurance Drink is designed for use during competition. It boasts a ‘C2MAX’ carbohydrate mix that is said to deliver fast energy to muscles. Of all the lemon/lime drinks I sampled, this was definitely one of the best. It’s not overly sweet and has a clean taste without a strong aftertaste. Each measured dose contains 293 kJ (70 calories) and is a great option for races and longer training days to help avoid an energy lull. The carbohydrates come from maltodextrin, fructose and dextrose.

Available in a convenient single-serve sachet, PowerBar Endurance Drink is easy to store and can be used during intense exercise.

Musashi Amino H20

RRP: 500ml - $3.75


Musashi has released a new concept on the market. The Musashi ‘Amino H20’ blend is an Australian first. It offers carbohydrates (fructose and glucose) and electrolytes to boost performance and replace water loss, but also provides branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) that have been shown to support energy delivery and muscle function during exercise. It comes in a 500ml bottle and is available in two flavours: Green Tea and Citrus Lemon Burst. I found both extremely palatable. They were very easy to drink, had a mild sweetness and no unpleasant aftertaste. They come premixed and are a user-friendly option for athletes on the run.

GU Electrolyte Brew

RRP: Canister - $34.95(Makes 18L); single serve electrolyte - $2.50


GU Electrolyte Brew markets itself with the slogan ‘simpler is better’ and claims to have no ‘gimmicky’ additives. It includes a blend of balanced electrolytes to replace those lost through sweat, and carbohydrates in the form of maltodextrin and fructose, to help fuel performance. I found the simple formulation made the drink very easy on the stomach and while the lemon-lime flavour wasn’t my favourite, the raspberry was definitely a winner. It was not too sweet and had a great aftertaste, encouraging me to continue drinking after the run, which was a bonus for my rehydration. Each serve contains 586 kJ (140 calories) and is perfect during or post-exercise. GU also has a recovery brew, with added vitamins and minerals to speed up recovery. The orange-pineapple flavour of the recovery brew was definitely the pick of the bunch!

BodyScience FUEL Series Advanced Sports Drink

RRP: 500g tub - $25


BodyScience FUEL Series Advance Sports Drink packs five essential electrolytes (magnesium, sodium, potassium, calcium and chloride) and all three branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) in to its high GI mix. Each serve delivers 381kJ (91 calories) thanks to a carbohydrate matrix consisting of dextrose, maltodextrin, waxy maize starch and sucrose. I sampled the lemon lime flavour. A tangy, easy to drink mix with just a hint of sweetness. Also available in mixed berry. Both flavours are gluten free.

Protein/Recovery Drinks

Endura Optimizer

RRP: 1440g tub - $70


Endura Optimizer is a scientifically advanced nutritional protein and carbohydrate supplement which can provide enhanced recovery, energy and nutrition for the endurance athlete. One serve delivers more than 60g of carbohydrates. Used before sessions it can provide a boast in energy levels, while use post-workout will assisting with repair and maintenance of muscle tissue and  replenishing glycogen stores.

Using a whey protein that is specifically hydrolysed and predigested to aid faster absorption and recovery Endura Optimizer will help you to get the most out of your training and avoid over-training fatigue. Available in Chocolate, Banana and Vanilla flavours.

Musashi Protein H20

RRP: 500ml - $3.50


The ‘Protein H2O’ blend contains 10g of WPI protein and comes in regular and low-carbohydrate options. While the drink may aid muscle recovery, it is not as palatable as other sport drink formulations. The protein is derived from milk and when mixed with water, has a sour and less palatable aftertaste. However, compared to other protein recovery drinks, Musashi was one of the better tasting products on the market.

PowerBar Protein Plus Powder

RRP: 475g tub - $18


PowerBar Protein Plus Powder has all the benefits of the protein plus formula in a powder form. The mix uses three different types of proteins, digested at different rates to provide aching muscles with sustained amino acid delivery.

Ease to mix, and great chocolate taste with milk or water, this post-training supplement will quickly fill the tank following training and help build lean muscle mass and aid recovery.

Each tub contains approximately 7 servings (65g) – with each serving delivering 544 kJ (130 calories) of energy, 43.7g of carbohydrates and 15g of protein.

BodyScience FUEL Series Recovery Protein

RRP: 1440g tub - $70


BodyScience FUEL Series Recovery Protein is designed to give your recovery a running start. A single serve is loaded with 1355 kJ (324 calories) and 15g of protein as well as branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) and a fair proportion of your RDI% of vitamins and minerals.

The banana berry flavour has pleasant similarities with a strawberry milk shake in both taste and texture. Also available in chocolate and vanilla flavours.

(republished with permission of Run For Your Life Magazine, Issue #35, 2011)

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