5 Drinks for Runners


Plain old water is almost always a good choice. If you’re running for an hour or longer, Sports Medicine Australia suggests drinking 500-700mL per hour. Run shorter and you can drink less or go without (particularly if you’re slower or have a lower sweat rate). The key is to know your sweat rate, which will prevent overdrinking.

When: On shorter runs, between 30 and 45 minutes. On long runs when combined with carbs for energy.

Try: Keep a jug in your fridge (you’re more likely to drink it chilled). Freeze a bottle so it stays cold mid-workout.


Electrolyte mix

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

When: Any run where you want some flavour and extra electrolytes. If you’re a salty sweater (your face regularly has salt streaks post-run), add a tablet to sports drink for longer workouts.

Try: Shotz or High5 Zero . High5 zero x’treme and Nuun Active Hydration Tabs offer caffeine-enhanced flavours.


Low- (or no-) kilojoule sports drinks

Zero-kilojoule sports drinks are artificially sweetened, flavoured beverages that supply electrolytes and sometimes vitamins without unwanted kilojoules. Low-kilojoule drinks contain some carbs but fewer than traditional sports drinks. While they don’t pack enough fuel to power you through long runs, they do contain enough carbs to boost your mood and energy for a short period of time.

When: Runs that are 60 minutes or less. They’re also a good choice for runners watching kilojoules, or just for sipping during the day.

Try: Powerade Zero supplies electrolytes without any kilojoules.


Sports drinks

Sports drinks are a mainstay for runners, providing about 600-800 kilojoules (or 36-48 grams of carbs) per 600ml, along with about 300 milligrams of sodium and some potassium. This combo boosts performance and hydrates you. Sports Dietitians Australia suggests consuming 30 to 60 grams of carbs per hour of exercise, which equals 500 to 800mL of common sports drinks per hour. Small runners and those who don’t sweat a ton may find this is more than they can handle, so adjust amounts based on your needs.

When: Runs lasting an hour or more. At this point you need carbs to power your muscles. They’re also great for speed workouts, which quickly eat up stored energy.

Try: Gatorade was the first, but there are plenty of options (Gu Electrolyte Brew, Powerade). Try different brands to find one you like.


Endurance electrolyte drinks

These beverages supply about 50 per cent more electrolytes and 25 per cent more carbs than traditional sports drinks. They also contain more than one type of carb, such as glucose and fructose. This helps your GI tract take up more carbs, which provides your muscles with a greater amount of energy and can boost endurance.

When: Runs lasting two hours or more, particularly in warm weather.

Try: Gatorade Endurance, Dextro carbo mineral, Endura and Bodyscience Electro5 are all available in powdered form.

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