Sports drinks come in all colors, flavors, and forms. But the differences don’t stop there! What truly sets them apart is the quality—how quickly and effectively the drink replenishes your energy, water, and mineral levels. Discover how to choose the perfect isotonic thirst quencher for your body and exertion.
At 3% dehydration, you start to feel thirsty. At 2% dehydration, performance loss begins. That’s why we always say, ‘drink, drink, drink.’ Because if you feel it, it’s already too late. To achieve both maximum energy and fluid absorption, it’s best to choose an isotonic drink. You can always supplement with a gel to get a boost towards the end. As an endurance athlete, always opt for an isotonic sports drink.
1. What makes an isotonic a good SPORTS drink?
Both sports drinks and isotonic drinks are designed to replenish fluids and minerals lost during sweating. The carbohydrates also provide a new dose of energy.
The major difference between isotonic and non-isotonic drinks lies in the density of particles (osmolarity). Isotonic drinks contain the same concentration of sugar and salt as the human body. As a result, your body effectively absorbs everything you drink. If it’s not isotonic, you won’t absorb all the fluids you drink.
This ensures that you don’t get too few nutrients, but also not too many. It’s essential to make sure your body doesn’t expend more energy than necessary to digest all those nutrients. This way, you can use all your energy for what really matters: improving your performance.
Hypertone, isotone, and hypotone
- Hypertone drinks have a higher concentration of dissolved particles than the body and are absorbed slowly, providing little energy to the body except for a quick burst that lasts only a few minutes. Avoid these during exercise. For example, cola.
- Isotonic drinks have the same concentration of dissolved particles as the body, with an osmolarity between 280 and 320 mmol/L. The nutrients they contain are almost fully absorbed. Isotonic drinks typically contain 6-8 grams of carbohydrates per 100 ml. A quality isotonic drink like Pro Isotonic contains more than 8 grams of carbohydrates per 100 ml.
- Hypotonic drinks have a lower concentration of dissolved particles than the body. They are quickly absorbed and contain a limited number of nutrients. Examples include Isostar or Aquarius. The advantage of these drinks is their rapid absorption, but they are also quickly depleted. Hypotonic drinks may contain up to 6 grams of carbohydrates per 100 ml, which may not be sufficient for sports use.
Always look for an isotonic formula of carbohydrate-electrolyte solutions. Only then will you have a sports drink that will help push your limits and never let you down.