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Drink this During Sustained Activity

woman  drinking energy drink

You may have already heard about the isotonic drinks you should drink during efforts that are intense or that exceed one hour, but what do you know about their composition and their useful effects during a sporting event?

First, let’s repeat that it’s important to stay well-hydrated during a workout. The aim is to replace the fluids lost through perspiration and thus prevent dehydration, but also to ensure that the nutrients consumed (or drank) during effort are absorbed to optimize your performance.

During workouts that are intense or exceed one hour, water is not enough to rebuild your reserves. Isotonic beverages are ideal because their density and composition (water, carbohydrates, and sodium) are similar to blood, which makes them easily absorbed by the intestine and ensures a better digestion.

Composition of a good sports (or isotonic) drink:

  • Non-carbonated;
  • Carbohydrates: 60 to 80 g/L (6-8%) from various sources such as glucose, sucrose, fructose, or maltodextrin, which is found in Cyotmax and X1, among other products;
  • Electrolytes (potassium and sodium – 300 mg to 700 mg/L).

Hypertonic and hypotonic drinks

A hypertonic drink contains more nutrients than blood. This type of drink is more concentrated than hypotonic drinks and will be digested more slowly, which will hinder your rehydration and could event cause abdominal cramps or heartburn. Needless to say, this is not something you want to happen while you are engaging in a physical activity!

Conversely, the concentration of nutrients of a hypotonic drink is lower than that of blood. Because it is more diluted, it will stimulate rehydration at the expense of carbs and sodium absorption, two essential elements during a lengthy workout. This type of drink is therefore not the best choice for long workouts.

Some recipes

Here are some simple and quick recipes to prepare your own isotonic drinks:

To make 1 liter of energy drink:

  1. Mix 500 ml (2 cups) of water with 500 ml (2 cups) of apple or orange juice, and add ½ teaspoon of salt.


  1. Mix 750 ml (3 cups) of water with 250 ml (1 cup) of grape, pineapple, or cranberry juice, and add ½ teaspoon of salt.


  1. For a different taste, see this natural maple energy drink recipe. With maple syrup and lime juice, the flavours blend perfectly; not too sweet, and not too acidic.

Do you have any isotonic drink recipes to share?

By Valérie Noël, P. Dt., nutritionist

Valérie Noël

Holder of a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Université Laval in 2006 and member of the Ordre professionnel des diététistes du Québec, Valérie has been working as a nutritionist at Nautilus Plus since March 2014. Throughout her career, she has worked in various fields, from hospitals and physical rehabilitation to writing articles and reference documents. However, she has dedicated the majority of her work to food safety and allergies. Curious and versatile… but most of all, passionate about cooking and sports nutrition, she loves giving advice to her clients to help them make the best choices to reach their specific objectives, whatever they may be. Physical activity has always been an important part of her life: recreative and competitive volley-ball, training in the gym, group classes, and also running in the last few years. She also loves the feeling of freedom she gets from it, and would love to surpass herself by running increasingly longer distances during competitions!

Drink this During Sustained Activityis a post from I'm taking charge. I'm taking charge is a blog that aims to help people in their journey to fitness through articles on training, nutrition, motivation, exercise and healthy recipes.
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