Ride hydration ranges from plain ‘ol water to super, high-tech, chemical-wonder concoctions. Finding one which works for you is similar to finding a saddle that soothes your bottom for the long haul. In other words, it is a highly personal thing. In over two years of road riding, I have basically only used GU Electrolyte Brew as my drink of choice. I feel this gives me a pretty good perspective on how the recipe performs.
When I began to ride, I used to drink only straight water, just as I had during my running days. It is the best, most natural, most available, and decent tasting thing out there. Or, so I thought. As rides began to get longer and longer, I felt I was just not getting all I could out of straight water. Plus, as I began to investigate all things cycling (reading, talking to other riders, manufacturers, etc), I found one of the keys to more productive riding was the addition of natural sugars (fuel), carbohydrates, proteins, sodium (and other minerals) and vitamins, replacing items lost/used-up during vigorous exercise.
Enter the Electrolytes
Electrolytes are basically acids, bases and salts. Some of the most important electrolytes are sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride and magnesium. In order to function properly, the body must contain a proper electrolyte balance inside and outside of your cells so they can properly transport water to and from the body’s major systems. Electrolytes basically work via “osmosis,” which is the transport of fluids from one cell to another. The salt within your cells keeps the body hydrated, regulates blood pH, and ensures that the muscles and nerves are properly functioning. So, now you know the why part.
GU Brew is powered by maltodextrin and fructose and meant to be mixed with plain water. GU Electrolyte Brew comes in powder form in a 35-serving container, one serving packets, and tubes of 12-servings, dissolves-in-water tablets. The tablets are the most practical, as they are compact, fit in a jersey pocket or seat bag, and come in six flavors - Orange, Strawberry-Lemonade, Tri-Berry, Pink-Grapefruit, Peach Tea, and Lemon-Lime (my favorite). One (1) serving (tablet) provides 10 calories, 320mg of sodium, 1 gram of carbs, 55mg of potassium, and 1 gram of sugar. If you are seeking protein, go and find it in your ride food. Better to get it there, anyway.
The powder comes in Orange, Lemon-Lime, Raspberry and Blueberry-Pomegranate. Each form of Brew is meant to be consumed before, during and after workouts, the complex-carbohydrates, sodium and potassium are meant to keep your body at peak levels, without bonking.
To date, I have tried Gatorade, PowerAde, Hammer, and Nunn, however, I kept coming back to the GU Electrolyte Brew. It tastes great, has all of the ingredients to keep me properly hydrated, and does not mess with my stomach. GU Brew has been the only one that I can drink as is. It does not need to be diluted, nor added to, just to get it right.
GU products are available just about anywhere.