Know Exactly What’s Inside Your Sports Drink

Here’s the breakdown of what you’re getting with the powdered version of the new Gatorade Endurance formula.

Photo: Competitive Image / @CompImagePh

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Gatorade Endurance is on course at more than 300 races each year, including the Ironman U.S. Series and many major U.S. marathons. Here’s the breakdown of what you’re getting with the powdered version of the new formula, introduced this summer:

Sugar, maltodextrin, fructose: These first three ingredients make up the multi-carbohydrate blend in a ratio of 2-to-1 (glucose-to-fructose). Recent research published in the Journal of Sports Science has demonstrated that athletes can absorb up to 90 grams of carbohydrate per hour (1.5 grams/minute) when both glucose and fructose are ingested, rather than the before-known max of 60 grams per hour (1 gram/minute). That’s because our intestines process each type differently—good news for endurance athletes, as our gut is the limiting factor in how much energy (carbohydrate) we can absorb and use to power our muscles. The multi-carb blend should also decrease risk of stomach discomfort during long (more than 2.5-hour) training sessions and races. The osmolality is lower than the old Gatorade Endurance formula, at ~270 mOsm/L, making it mildly hypotonic, meaning it contains slightly less particles than body fluids and will be emptied from the gut quickly.

Sodium citrate: A salt derived from citric acid, it’s used in the food and beverage world to decrease the acidity of foods, balance the tangy flavor and as an antioxidant.

Citric acid: Occurs naturally in citrus fruits and is used as an acidifier, flavoring and chelating agent—an ingredient that helps keep a consistent flavor as well as shelf stability.

Monopotassium phosphate: A soluble salt form of potassium, a key electrolyte lost in sweat. This also acts as a buffering agent, which helps to maintain the pH of the solution (drink), to keep the concentration of the solution stable and help aid absorption.

Salt: Losing sodium and fluid in our sweat without replacing the sodium can lead to a decreased sodium concentration in our blood, possibly even leading to the dangerous condition hyponatremia. Athlete’s sweat contains anywhere from 400–1200 milligrams of sodium per liter and must be replaced during training and races. This formula contains just over 800 milligrams of sodium per liter.

Calcium lactate: An easily absorbed, chelated form of calcium—another key electrolyte lost in sweat. This free form of calcium helps support muscle contraction, nerve function and constriction and relaxation of muscles in our blood vessels.

Calcium silicate: Used as an anti-caking agent (since this is a powdered form).

Natural flavors: This phrase means that the original flavoring ingredient(s), for example a small vitamin/molecule/flavor/mineral extracted from a fruit, have been purified or extracted and then added back into the food/drink.

Magnesium oxide: A naturally occurring source of magnesium, an essential mineral that can help neutralize stomach acid and aid digestion.

Gum arabic: A natural gum that is produced from the hardened sap of the acacia tree, it’s used as a stabilizer to help keep the ingredients from separating out of solution in your sports drink.

Sodium ascorbate: As is stated on the label, it’s used to preserve freshness.

Beta carotene: Derived from the red-orange pigment in plants and fruits, it’s used to add color.

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