One of the main things that separates electrolyte / sports drinks is the effect they have on the stomach. This can come down to a few things
- The amount drunk – if you drink 2 litres of one sports drink in an hour and get a gastro-intestinal distress (a sore gut), and then drink 500ml of another sports drink in an hour and don’t get a sore gut, then blame yourself, not the drink!
- The sodium content – this can have some effect, it depends on the person.
- The carbohydrate blend – this can have a large effect especially for longer duration events or sports.
What does the carbohydrate blend mean, and what effect does it have?
You probably won’t actually see the actual blend/ratio on the label of ingredients as it goes a little deeper than the ingredient list. For instance, R-Line contains sucrose (normal white sugar), glucose, and maltodextrin. Maltodextrin breaks down in your stomach/intestines to units of glucose, whereas sugar breaks down into glucose and fructose. It is the ratio of glucose to fructose that can be crucial.
The glucose gets absorbed by the body into the bloodstream quickly, whereas the fructose gets absorbed slowly. Once in the bloodstream, fructose can then be converted into glucose.
Most people can absorb a maximum of about 60g of glucose and 30g of fructose per hour, but for some people, they absorb fructose a lot slower. This means the fructose gets further and further down the gastro tract, and eventually it gets so far down it can start to hurt.
So fructose can be a good thing (a 30g/hour carb boost) or a bad thing (a sore stomach) depending on who you are. Depending on what type of person you are can lead you to one brand or another.
R-Line Reload Gel is made of maltodextrin and glucose, so contains no fructose. If you do suffer from a sore stomach when exercising – here is an idea. Rather than make R-Line Electrolyte Drink full strength, make it half strength, but top up the mixture with Reload Gel. In other words, rather than use 100ml R-Line Electrolyte Drink Concentrate to make 1 litre of drink, use 50ml along with 50ml of Reload Gel.
The other benefit of this 50:50 blend is that it’s a lot less sweet and you might find this a lot easier to use on the longer rides.
Check out this deal here for a bottle of R-Line Electrolyte Drink and a bottle of Reload Gel for just $30.