When you really get into cycling and long endurance rides, picking out a good sports drink can be a long process…

What sports drink do you use when racing/training over 3 hours on the bike. I got some fruit punch Accelerade for Christmas, didn’t like the flavor and it gave me a headache. Cytomax is okay, but I am looking for something that tastes pretty good and has lots of carbs/energy, but not fattening.

-Endurance Ed

While not quite as difficult as choosing the right saddle, finding the right sports drink can be an arduous process.

Personally I like Powerbar Endurance the most. All the flavors are good whether you mix it strong or weak, it has a good amount of carbs, it’s fairly easy to mix, and it’s relatively inexpensive (especially if it is on sale at PerformanceBike.com.)

I typically use that as my only source of calories for rides up to 2 or maybe 2.5 hours. For rides longer than that, I’ll add in a Powerbar or a couple GU gels. (Carrying food on every ride is a good idea, just in case.)

If Accelerade gives you a headache, you could try Hammer Heed or Hammer Perpetuem. A lot of athletes who don’t like the typical sports drinks end up liking the products from Hammer Nutrition. It’s good stuff, but it is one of the more expensive brands, and I don’t like it enough to justify the price.

There are a lot of other brands though – Enervit, First Endurance EFS, GU2O, Carb-BOOM, Clif Shot, Gatorade Endurance, etc. One of them could be perfect for you.

*Sports Drink Tip* Like I always say – try to get together with a group of friends and have everyone purchase a canister of a different drink, and then split them up. It’s a good way to sample various drinks without shelling out hundreds of dollars on stuff you don’t like.

Finally, all sports drinks are fattening if you drink too much. For example, if you do no exercise at all yet consume a gallon of sports drink each day, you’ll probably get fat.

But for us cyclists, it’s not really a big deal. When choosing a sports drink, I’d be more concerned with taste, calories, electrolyte content, and price than wondering if it will make me fat!

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  1. I like your sports tip! Everyone has different preferences in sports drinks. Sharing is a great idea.

    Have you tried Accelerade Hydro? It has a lighter taste than Accelerade (some say better). It’s also low in calories and protein. Definitely not a fattening choice.

  2. There are plenty of recipes for homemade sports drinks on the web. It only takes sugar, salt, water and some flavoring such as lemon juice. Now that’s cheap! I mix my own with great results. I pack a concentrate for extra-long trips and just add water to fill my containers. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches take the place of expensive bars.

  3. I’ve been using HEED for awhile and have been satisfied so far. I don’t like the Melon flavor but that’s about it. I have been doing longer rides and in South Texas it gets 110 in the shade during the summer! I love Clif Bars (White Choc. Macadam.) and need to discipline myself by taking only 2!!

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