Science of Sports Drinks – Electrolytes, Hydration, Isotonic and Hyper

 

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Science of Sports Drinks Electrolytes, Hydration, Isotonic and Hypertonic Drinks Even as little as a 2% loss in hydration can lead to significant declines. Sports drinks are hypertonic, isotonic, or hypotonic. Most sports beverages tend to be moderately isotonic, meaning their concentration of salts and carbohydrates is similar to that found in. Most sports drinks are isotonic and typically contain between 6-8% carbohydrates, providing athletes with a balance of energy, electrolytes and fluids. However, according to Mettler et al 2006, many sports drinks marketed as being isotonic are actually slightly hypertonic in formulation such as Gatorade Orange (osmolarity: 350mmol/kg) and Powerade Mountain Blast (osmolarity: 391mmol/kg).

In the sport science community and their published research, there is a consensus about the optimal composition of such drinks: sports drinks should contain water, carbohydrates as an energy source, and the electrolytes listed above. All of this must be in a defined osmolality consistent with optimal gastric emptying. To help athletes replace water and electrolytes, energy isotonic, hypotonic, and hypertonic beverages are currently marketed.

These products and other supplements, such as protein (PRO), amino acid (AA), or carbohydrate (CHO) supplements, are defined by the Turkish Food Codex-Sports Food Regulation (2003/42). There are 3 types of hydration drinks on the market: hypertonic, hypotonic and isotonic. Most hydration drinks are hypertonic (leading sports drinks and coconut waters) or hypotonic (low calorie and zero calorie drinks, including water). All these beverages cause a delay in hydration and can result in cramping, sluggishness or “water belly.”. The Difference Between Isotonic, Hypotonic and Hypertonic Sports Drinks.

Isotonic, Hypotonic and Hypertonic Sports Drinks can be confusing, so we are here to help out. As more people embrace fitness and nutritional supplements, the energy drink market has grown by leaps and bounds. A few common beverages that contain electrolytes include coconut water, milk, fruit juices, smoothies, electrolyte-infused waters and sports drinks.

Most sports beverages like Gatorade and Powerade fall into the isotonic drink category since they are similar in concentration and deliver a reasonable amount of energy back into the body. SiS (Science in Sport®) Limited is a leading sports nutrition company that develops, manufactures, and markets innovative sports supplements and nutrition products for use by professional athletes and sports enthusiasts. SiS (Science in Sport®) Limited (company number 2742833) was founded in 1992 and is a headquartered in London, EC1N.

Sports drinks are classified three ways: isotonic, hypotonic and hypertonic, depending upon the amount of carbohydrates they contain. Isotonic fluids have six to eight percent carbohydrates, including glucose your body’s preferred energy source for exercise.

List of related literature:

Because sodium and chloride are the main electrolytes lost in sweat, rehydration without replacement of these electrolytes will eventually lead to dilution of their concentrations in the body.1 One way to prevent hyponatremia is to have athletes ingest sports drinks containing electrolytes, particularly sodium.

“Practical Applications In Sports Nutrition BOOK ALONE” by Heather Fink, Alan Mikesky, Lisa Burgoon
from Practical Applications In Sports Nutrition BOOK ALONE
by Heather Fink, Alan Mikesky, Lisa Burgoon
Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2011

Isotonic drinks containing small quantities of sodium and other electrolytes (Cl-, K+) and glucose, taken during endurance events, such as marathon runs, are absorbed better than water and may have benefits over plain water in preventing, correcting, or delaying dehydration.

“Handbook of Nutrition and Diet” by Desai
from Handbook of Nutrition and Diet
by Desai
Taylor & Francis, 2000

The optimal balance of carbohydrates, electrolytes, and water for athletes varies greatly depending on environmental conditions, sweat rates, and the duration and intensity of exercise; therefore, it is difficult to determine the ideal content of a sports drink.

“Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine” by Lyle J. Micheli, M.D.
from Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine
by Lyle J. Micheli, M.D.
SAGE Publications, 2010

The consumption of sports drinks (SDs), like Gatorade, is perhaps the easiest way to replace electrolytes at a working incident, although electrolytes can be found in many nutritional foods (especially green vegetables).

“Fire Department Incident Safety Officer” by Dodson
from Fire Department Incident Safety Officer
by Dodson
Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2015

Sodium stimulates glucose absorption in the small intestine; therefore, an electrolyte-containing solution with sodium at a concentration similar to or greater than that of sweat restores water balance more quickly and maintains positive water and plasma volumes longer than drinks without sodium.

“Fitness Instructor Training Guide” by Cheryl L. Hyde, American Association for Active Lifestyles and Fitness
from Fitness Instructor Training Guide
by Cheryl L. Hyde, American Association for Active Lifestyles and Fitness
Kendall/Hunt, 2002

The major cations (positively charged electrolytes) in the body water are sodium and potassium, with smaller amounts of calcium and magnesium; the major anion (negatively charged electrolytes) is chloride, with smaller amounts of bicarbonate and protein.

“Encyclopedia of Human Nutrition” by Benjamin Caballero, Lindsay Allen, Andrew Prentice
from Encyclopedia of Human Nutrition
by Benjamin Caballero, Lindsay Allen, Andrew Prentice
Elsevier Science, 2005

Electrolyte and carbohydrate-electrolyte solutions promote fluid absorption better than water while commercially made carbohydrateelectrolyte sport drinks delay the onset of both fatigue and dehydration.

“Tennis Medicine: A Complete Guide to Evaluation, Treatment, and Rehabilitation” by Giovanni Di Giacomo, Todd S. Ellenbecker, W. Ben Kibler
from Tennis Medicine: A Complete Guide to Evaluation, Treatment, and Rehabilitation
by Giovanni Di Giacomo, Todd S. Ellenbecker, W. Ben Kibler
Springer International Publishing, 2019

Commercial sports drinks are often used by endurance athletes not only because of their flavor but also because they provide fuel and electrolytes in the form of carbohydrates and sodium chloride.

“Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes, 3rd Ed.” by Monique Ryan, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN
from Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes, 3rd Ed.
by Monique Ryan, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN
VeloPress, 2012

Ostojic and Mazic studied professional male soccer players to determine the effects of carbohydrate-electrolyte drinks on soccer performance.”

“Practical Applications in Sports Nutrition” by Heather Hedrick Fink, Lisa A. Burgoon, Alan E. Mikesky
from Practical Applications in Sports Nutrition
by Heather Hedrick Fink, Lisa A. Burgoon, Alan E. Mikesky
Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2006

For youth athletes who participate in events that are prolonged (i.e., last more than an hour) and involve vigorous exercise or take place in a hot and humid environment, it may be useful to use a sport drink containing carbohydrate and sodium chloride in order to maintain energy provision and electrolyte balance.

“Essentials of Youth Fitness” by Avery D. Faigenbaum, Rhodri S. Lloyd, Jon L. Oliver, American College of Sports Medicine
from Essentials of Youth Fitness
by Avery D. Faigenbaum, Rhodri S. Lloyd, et. al.
Human Kinetics, 2019

Alexia Lewis RD

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Heath Coach who believes life is better with science, humor, and beautiful, delicious, healthy food.

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19 comments

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  • Salt stops lactic acid build up
    Read The salt fix by dr James dinicolantonio
    And
    Salt your way to health
    By Dr. David Brownstein
    And understand hydration

  • Great review thanks. Running my 1st Marathon in April. Need some fuel for the second half. I’ve bought a load of these for training and the race itself. Thanks.

  • You: *two hours into running* “So, 2 hours in!” *looks/breathing totally normal* “gonna try this thing!..”

    Me: *20 mins into running* ��

    ���� thanks for the review. Looking for a gel and was worried about flavor and texture. I’ll def give these a try!

  • I’m a footballer and do runs regularly for fitness, and I have too agree they’re effective especially at half time for team sports. Also the texture it’ll 100 % make you cringe but after two or five times you get used too it.

    Good review:)

  • I use the SIS GO hydro tabs in my camel bak for enduro trail riding. Easy to get the ratio right of you measure in with water. Works great. I am very pleased with these ����

  • It depends of the activity. When i’m cycling for 6 or 7 hours i usually eat 3 of them, but i also have some fruits like bananas or oranges with me. And water, obviously.

  • Another point is that all water is or the same! You need to drink a good mineral water. 500+ TDS, look on the label of you water bottle and if it is less, you might be flushing your system of those good minerals you need. Sodium, potassium and magnesium are import as they help your body hydrate. Without them your body cannot hydrate as effectively. Remember, all water is not equal!!! Take a look on the label next time! Use a good mineral water with your added sports drink powders, the stuff that’s already in a bottle is crap!

  • I don’t know if they have changed the formula later but the current mix has a serving size of 22 grams out of which 18 grams is added sugar. So it’s basically pure sugar with some electrolytes and powder base for 80 calories. That’s pretty much what standard Gatorade delivers: 80 calories and 22g carbs. Not sure what’s the catch and where “hydration from the bottle and energy from the pocket formula” went.

  • I’m a footballer and do runs regularly for fitness, and I have too agree they’re effective especially at half time for team sports. Also the texture it’ll 100 % make you cringe but after two or five times you get used too it.

    Good review:)

  • I dont know why people make rocket science out of it! It is just ORA, add salt and sugar! more specific one tea spoon of salt and 6-8 tea spoons of sugar and of-course water!

  • I dont know why people make rocket science out of it! It is just ORA, add salt and sugar! more specific one tea spoon of salt and 6-8 tea spoons of sugar and of-course water!

  • I don’t know if they have changed the formula later but the current mix has a serving size of 22 grams out of which 18 grams is added sugar. So it’s basically pure sugar with some electrolytes and powder base for 80 calories. That’s pretty much what standard Gatorade delivers: 80 calories and 22g carbs. Not sure what’s the catch and where “hydration from the bottle and energy from the pocket formula” went.

  • I would disagree about the “calories from your pocket” idea when the first ingredient in Skratch is cane sugar and the second is dextrose. Personally, I use something like Nuun for electrolytes as it has a better electrolyte makeup without pounding a bunch of table sugar. Sure, Skratch has less sugar but you are still consuming a bunch of table sugar.

  • Great review thanks. Running my 1st Marathon in April. Need some fuel for the second half. I’ve bought a load of these for training and the race itself. Thanks.

  • You: *two hours into running* “So, 2 hours in!” *looks/breathing totally normal* “gonna try this thing!..”

    Me: *20 mins into running* ��

    ���� thanks for the review. Looking for a gel and was worried about flavor and texture. I’ll def give these a try!

  • at 3:58 if the fluid moved from low concentration to high concentration, this would be active transport, where energy is used in order to move the particles against their concentration gradient

  • I would disagree about the “calories from your pocket” idea when the first ingredient in Skratch is cane sugar and the second is dextrose. Personally, I use something like Nuun for electrolytes as it has a better electrolyte makeup without pounding a bunch of table sugar. Sure, Skratch has less sugar but you are still consuming a bunch of table sugar.

  • It depends of the activity. When i’m cycling for 6 or 7 hours i usually eat 3 of them, but i also have some fruits like bananas or oranges with me. And water, obviously.

  • at 3:58 if the fluid moved from low concentration to high concentration, this would be active transport, where energy is used in order to move the particles against their concentration gradient