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You Need More Fuel for Your Workouts?

Do you notice a significant energy drop during your workouts? Did you ever “hit a wall” on a long run? Or are you unable to eat breakfast before your morning workout? If you answered yes to one of these questions, you might need a sports drink. Let’s sort this out…

If you train at a moderate-to-high intensity for over one hour, or if you don’t eat breakfast before your morning workout, you could get more benefits by drinking a sports drink! These drinks have three main purposes:

  • providing energy quickly with their liquid carbohydrates;
  • replacing lost liquids following intense perspiration;
  • maintaining stable electrolytes levels (sodium and potassium) following intense perspiration.

Contrary to what you might think, no, sports drinks don’t contain too much sugar. They are specifically designed to meet your athletic needs! Choose a sports drink with a carbs concentration between 6% and 8%, i.e., 60 to 80 g of carbs per litre. This way, you will provide your body with the necessary fuel to sustain your effort and give your best shot. The longer the workout, the higher the concentration should be. For example, if you workout for three hours or more, choose a drink with a carbs concentration of 8%. Purchase powdered sports drinks to make your own mix at the optimum concentration!

If drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade are too sweet for you, try drinks in which the first ingredient is not glucose, fructose, or sucrose. For example, the first ingredient in X1 or Cytomax sports drinks is maltodextrin, a carbohydrate that provides the same amount of energy, only less sweet!

Drink from 125 to 250 ml of liquid every 15 minutes, or 500 ml to 1 L per hour.   On the other hand, the latest recommendations of the American College of Sports Medicine are to drink ad libitum, or to your liking, depending on your thirst, gastrointestinal tolerance, and energy level. Indeed, if you are dehydrated you will lack energy, feel sick and dizzy, and be unable to give your 110%. If your workout lasts less than one hour, drink water or a low-carb sports drink. You can also try simply mouthwashing with a sports drink for an instant energy boost! Of course, try this tip during an outdoors workout so you can spit out the sweet liquid wherever you want.

Last selection criterion, choose a drink that contains from 50 to 70 mg of sodium to avoid suffering from hyponatremia! Do this to ensure you have adequate sodium levels in your blood, or you will notice headaches, vomiting, tiredness, confusion, and oedema (swelling).

In conclusion, here is a small chart to summarize the most popular sports drinks:

And you, what is your miracle workout recipe?

By Caroline Proulx, P.Dt.


Fares, E.J.M., Kayser B. (2011).  Carbohydrate mouth rinse effects on exercise capacity in pre and postprandial states.  Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, doi:10.1155/2011/385962.

Ledoux, M., Saint-Martin, G., & Lacombe, N. (2009). Nutrition sport et performance. (2nd ed.). Montréal: Vélo Québec.

Noakes, T.D., (2007).  Drinking guidelines for exercise: what evidence is there that athletes should drink “as much as tolerable,” “to replace the weight lost during exercise” or “ad libitum?”, Journal of Sports Science, 29(7) : 781-796.

Rollo, I., Williams, C. (2011).  Effect of mouth rinsing solutions on endurance performance.  Sports Med, 46(6) : 449-461.

Rollo, I., Cole, M., Miller, R., & MillerWilliams, C. (2010). Influence of mouth rinsing a carbohydrate solution on 1-h running performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercice, 42(4), 798-804.

Caroline Proulx

Holder of a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from McGill University, and member of the Ordre Professionnel des Diététistes du Québec, Caroline has been working as a nutritionist for Nautilus Plus since January 2013. A seasoned marathon runner with a passion for cooking, she also animates conferences and motivation groups about nutrition! “As I have not always been a keen athlete, I am very proud of having completed a marathon, and also of preparing the next ones! For me, nutrition is not only the key to optimal performance, but also a medicine in itself. Therefore, my objective is to encourage people to change their habits if they need to and motivate them to never give up, but first and foremost, make them realize that eating healthy is a pleasure that we are lucky to enjoy three times a day!”

You Need More Fuel for Your Workouts? is 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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