Gatorade VS water

This is just something I’ve been curious about since I’ve started doing semi-long distance rides. I always carry a bottle of water around with me but I notice quite a few people prefer gatorade (or other similar drinks).

Now, I’ve always been under the impression that water is superior since it has less calories and little to no additives. However, I noticed after a very difficult and tiring ride recently that eating some high-calorie food (it was a mars bar) gave me the energy to continue the ride. On top of this, there’s those elusive electrolytes that this drink claims to provide, what’s the deal with those?

What do you guys think? What do you take with you on long rides?

Man does not live by water alone. Or bread, but bread’s better than nothing on a long ride.

I remember a hot ride down the Downieville trail a few years back. It’s about 17 miles, with 4000’ of elevation loss. About halfway through, I was just beat. Drinking more water doesn’t really help after a certain point, your body needs fuel. Electrolytes? Not so elusive. Try an internet search. Also just some basic glucose-type stuff (depending on the duration needed).

For most long rides, I like to eat “regular” food for lunch. But sometimes you neeed a little help. On really long rides, maybe a lot of help. That’s when supplements are most useful. And in races, where every detail counts to maximize your body’s output.

In my Camelbak I only use water, but on long rides I also bring along some Powerade or similar, in a separate bottle.

For me Gatorade has to FEW calories. I often mix my own from the powder at twice the recomended concentration. I also ad ~ 10g worth of protien powder per quart.

But for me 2/3 strength orange juice, w/ 1/8th tsp. of salt per quart, + the protien powder works better.

(you need water, as well as easy to digest calories, sodium, and potasium.)

I find water adequate most of the time. but after prolonged exercise a gatorade or similar sports drink helps kill that feeling of dehydration faster. Hello fellow Australian!

I prefer water for various reasons

  • sports drinks require you to wash your bottles/camelbak well afterwards so you don’t end up with mushrooms growing inside them
  • if you’re swigging a sugary electrolyte drink every 15min or more frequently with your camelbak, it’s bad for your teeth. Dentists hate sports drinks because people tend to sip small amounts frequently.

I prefer to get my kilojoules from food- whether it’s a sports bar or whatever. It seems to last longer and feel more substantial- I have a tendency to underfuel if I rely on sports drinks alone.

Most sports drinks are isoosmotic- so they should be about the same concentration as the electrolytes in your blood stream. If they were hyperosmolar they suck fluid into your gut in order to be absorbed, which may not be good for excercising and hydration. Some drinks are hyperosmolar- from memory Gatorade is one of them, but Powerade is isotonic.

Sports drinks are good for replacing electrolytes if you sweat alot. But then, so is real food.

Water 100%

My longest ride (on a bicycle) was 5 1/2 hours, and gatorade has a instant refreshing feeling (sort of) but then dries out your mouth and it feels all pasty. I spend 3 hours body building every other day, i only use water. There is no substitution.

I’ve been mixing Cytomax in my CamelBak for months now.

There are so many variables when riding that I can’t really say for certain that I feel any benefit: heat, humidity, trail conditions, my condition, sleep, previous exercise, tire pressure, previous meals, previous exercise, mood, stress, etc.
Every ride is different, and I’m pretty much always pushing myself until I’m tired, so it’s hard to tell how much it helps. It doesn’t really have a Dr. Jekyll - Mr. Hyde effect.

My CamelBak does get funky if I don’t clean it well after a ride. And I don’t sometimes. :o

I took 40 oz of gatorade on my last excursion - and it was welcome because I don’t think we’ve had a day this summer that wasn’t above 95 degrees with +80% humidity - brutal, brutal, endless, cruel summer (leaving me here on my own). I noticed that after about 30 oz of the stuff that I just wanted water. I was sick of it.

Now the plan is to do both in the future. Maybe a 1:4 gatorade:water ratio. I like one person’s suggestion that I read on this board. Toss a frozen gatorade against the bladder of a camelbak full of water. You get cold water, and a gatorade once it thaws - and by then you’ll likely need some electrolytes.

The only thing about the frozen gatorade idea - I may be crazy , but I’ve noticed that if you start drinking it before a decent thaw (there’s a huge lump of ice in the middle) the sugar melts first so you’ll get a higher concentration of sugar than the completely thawed liquid would have. Drink off all the sugar and once it thaws all the way you’ll get the saltier stuff that was left behind.

I haven’t perfected this “slush” method of freezing. To me it just comes out as a solid block of ice, and remains that way until it’s completely thawed. Once upon a time I knew of people that could set their freezer to the perfect temperature where the contents were liquid, but the whole drink would immediately slush up once you opened the container and the pressure was released. But that was with glass bottles and carbonated drinks -

I looked it up, glad to know my memory is reliable every once in a while.

I find that regular, out of the cooler at the store, SPorts Drink have changed drastically in the last decade. Gatorade used to be the industry standard for electrolyte replacement and calorie boosts. All the sports teams used in on the benches and swore by it. Research proved it!!!
(remember that the sports teams buy the powdered product out of bags and mix thier own quantities HUGE DIFFERENCE in product)
In recent years, yuppies who have to attend long meetings, school kids who need to be pinned hyper for Math class and generally anyone who thinks they need a little pick-me-up but Rockstar is too hard core for, reach for a Sports Drink. This has changed the market into a more soft drink oriented thing as opposed to a hardcore athlete thing.

If you feel you need Carbs (not calories) and electrolytes, go to your local running store and pick up a pure electrolyte replacement drink powder from them. I use a product called eLoad for Marathons and Half Marathons and find it’s awesome. TASTES LIKE STRAWBERRY SWEAT, but it works. If you need no other components but hydration. WATER RULES…
Coke doesn’t need any more of your money!

On my casual rides I usually have nothing with me or just water. I tend to stop at some shops here and there to have something to drink and eat.
During the races I take water into my camelback to sip it during the way and sometimes a small can of magnesium drink as a support ( Then at the buffet we get free Powerade, so actually I use a mix of both.
I wouldn’t like to ride all the time having only a “sports” drink, but one portion just to give something more to body and some taste to the mount is good in my opinion.

First, I’d like to thank jbtilley for the Bananarama quote. :slight_smile:

There’s a number of reasonably good tasting electrolyte tabs on the market. I use the Nuun tabs; just drop 2 in your water and go! I know Camelbak and a number of other companies make them too. I didn’t like the cola flavored ones, but none of them tasted like strawberry sweat. blech.

I’ll reach for gels or take a bite off a bar to keep my sugar levels up if I feel like I need to. Usually the tabs are enough on super hot days when water starts tasting bad…

I stay far away from most commercial aid drinks. When I was a serious road cyclist (1000 to 2000 km a week), the aid drinks wouldn’t fully help, the ended up causing cramping both in the gut and in various muscles. They tended to not overly help performance either.

That said, water and electrolyte balance is very very important with longer rides and hotter days, but there’s tonnes of simple mixtures that work way better. They taste better, they creat better performance, and you’ll avoid the teeth rot too. I recommend using citrus fruits (lemons, limes, oranges, grapes etc) and salt as a combination. It’s usually 1/2 cup of citruis an a few shakes of salt in every litre of water, but there are lots of very inexpensive variations.

Congrats on the longer rides!

I sweat SO much, I have to be replenishing with water. I take oat bars and cliff bars with me though for the energy when I need it.

And for the people that want to put things other than water in your camel back, just put the bladder in the refrigerator after your ride.

Can’t resist

on most rides I would just carry water an food but if it was hot and I was going to be sweating a lot for more than a couple hours I would probably mix up some gatorade at 1/4 strength and have real food as well as sugar candies (like gummy bears) for a boost.

1/4 strength gatorade kept me going for the last three weeks fighting a big fire in north western Ontario. Strait water just didn’t cut it and pure gatorade was too strong for the amounts of liquids I was loosing. 1/4 strength seemed about right.

On most rides I would just carry water an food but if it was hot and I was going to be sweating a lot for more than a couple hours I would probably mix up some gatorade at 1/4 strength and have real food as well as sugar candies (like gummy bears) for a boost.

1/4 strength gatorade kept me going for the last three weeks fighting a big fire in north western Ontario. Strait water just didn’t cut it and pure gatorade was too strong for the amounts of liquids I was loosing. 1/4 strength seemed about right.

half-gatorade, half-water, and constant snacks like nuts or mix

I used to do long 10-12 hour day rides on my b*ke with this, but I will say if you only have one bottle, make it water. I would always have a few bottles, one may have a sweet tea from my last stop, one would have the mixed stuff and one would have water. Not particularly useful advice for unicycling though. . .

a completely separate tip:

for holding snacks grab a kitchen trash bag. Put your snack in the bottom and tie it off, then put another snack, tie that off. . . so on and so forth and you have a snack rope that you can rip off during your ride : ) then just leave the tail end hanging out of your bag so you can grab it easily.
edit: don’t use the glad-grade non-rip super bags u.u you shall never see your snacks again

basic rule of thumb: if you feel dehydrated, you’re far too late.

I have a big breakfast/lunch before the ride and then I just drink water during the ride and sometimes I have a cereal bar or something similar.
I can’t drink power drinks cause the sugar makes me even more dusty and when I drink more than 3 gulps of it during exercise I feel ill afterwards.

Water is the best drink ever! Although the tub water over here tastes like a public swimming pool (because of the chlorine…Why the hell do they put chlorine in the water??? It ruins everything!) and the one you can buy tastes a bit lame to me…
I’m petted by the great German chlorine free tab water which has a nice little amount of calcium carbonate and iron in it and just tastes wonderful…

Do you mean ditsy or dizzy? spoiled?

Well, I think you know why they put it in the water. :wink: You might not know what to do to get it out of the water though. Just put your water in an open container and let the chlorine evaporate out. People suggest leaving it out for 24 hours, but chlorine evaporates fairly quickly and I’ve found that the chlorine taste is gone after just a few hours.