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What is the difference between the different sports drinks?

Toby Smithson
Nutrition & Dietetics

The main difference between the sports drinks products is the amount and type of carbohydrate, or sugar. Most drinks offer sucrose and fructose. Sucrose is the same as table sugar and fructose is the main type of sugar found in fruit. Other drinks contain artificial sweeteners, which may not be as effective since they are not a source of carbohydrates. A drink of between 6-8% carbohydrates would be a good option to test during training. Some people experience stomach cramps with higher percentages

Traditional sports drinks are a 6-8% carbohydrate solution, with added electrolyte minerals (particularly sodium and potassium). These beverages were designed to replace the fluid and minerals lost in sweat and the carbohydrate used in activity. Today, there are many other options from 0 calorie beverages, to slightly higher carb and carb/protein formations. Athletes should determine their needs and priorities, and then choose the drink that best meets those needs.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.