Stay hydrated: 5 top drinks for races and training sessions

Water

WHY

Plain old water is almost always a good choice. It helps transport nutrients around your body and regulates your temperature. For runs shorter than an hour you can drink less water or go without. Follow your thirst rather than drink a set amount – this will prevent overdrinking (which brings its own risks). When you’re well hydrated, your urine should be pale yellow. 

WHEN

On shorter runs of up to 60 minutes, and long runs when combined with carbs for energy.

TRY

Keep a jug of water in your fridge (you're far more likely to drink it chilled). Freeze a bottle so it stays cold throughout your workout.

Electrolyte tablets

WHY

These tablets add flavour and electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium) to water with virtually no calories or carbs (most use artificial sweeteners). While there’s no proof electrolytes prevent cramp, they do assist in fluid balance and absorption. Flavouring your water also makes it more appealing to drink.

WHEN

If you’re a salty sweater (look for white marks on your kit), add a tab to water or sports drinks on long runs.

TRY

High5Zero, SiS Go Hydro Tablets, USN Electrolyte Acti-Fizz and Nuun Active Hydration Tabs offer flavour varieties and contain electrolytes.

Low-/zero-calorie sports drinks

WHY

Zero-calorie sports drinks are artificially sweetened, flavoured beverages that supply vitamins and electrolytes without packing in the calories. While low-cal drinks don’t contain enough carbs to power you through long runs, they do have enough to boost your mood and energy for a shorter period 
of time.

WHEN

Runs of 60 minutes or less. They’re also good for watching calories, or just sipping during the day.

TRY

A 500ml bottle of Powerade Zero has 250mg of sodium and 0kcal. A Lucozade Sport Lite bottle has Vitamin B and electrolytes, with 50kcal.

Sports drinks

WHY

Sports drinks are a mainstay for runners, providing up to 140kcal (32g of carbs) per bottle, along with about 250mg of sodium and some potassium. This combination boosts your energy stores and hydrates you. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests consuming 30-60g (one to two bottles) of carbs per hour of exercise.

WHEN

Runs lasting
 an hour or more. They’re also great for speedwork, which quickly eats up stored energy.

TRY

Lucozade Sport (140kcal, 32g carbs per 500ml), Powerade ION4 (85kcal, 19.5g carbs) and Gatorade Perform (125kcal, 30g carbs).

Endurance sports drinks

WHY

These supply
 25 per cent more carbs and 50 per cent more electrolytes than traditional sports drinks. They also provide ‘multiple transportable carbohydrates’
– meaning more than one type of carb, such as glucose and fructose. This helps your GI tract take up more carbs, providing your muscles with a greater amount of energy and endurance.

WHEN

Runs lasting two hours or more. Runners training at very intense levels may also benefit from these.

TRY

High5 Energy Source, PowerBar Isomax and SiS Go Energy powders. Try early in training to check the high carb content sits well in your stomach.