Hydration is a very important element of running and racing. To run well, you need to be able to refuel and rehydrate well. Refuelling and rehydrating is a very delicate issue. Anything could go wrong and cause you gastrointestinal problems. Understand your sport drinks, and know when to drink what to hydrate yourself!

Hypertonic Drinks

Hypertonic drinks consists of a high level of carbohydrates – usually more than 10 per cent slash more than 10g per 100ml of fluids. These drinks have a greater osmotic pressure than our body fluids and is intended to provide our body with energy. These drinks are ideal for strenuous activity of shorter durations or longer durations of less strenuous activities. Here, the priority is energy and hydration is secondary.

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This means, taking too much of these drinks during a long distance or ultra event can cause gastrointestinal problems. You are getting in the calories but not hydrating yourself well. it is not recommended to take hypertonic drinks in solely for ultra events, but to take it together with a hypotonic drink to meet your hydration demands.


Examples: Fruit Juice, Lemonade, Coke 

Hypotonic Drinks

Hypotonic Drinks consist of fluids, electrolytes and low level of carbohydrates, less than 4 grams per 100ml. They are designed to quickly replace lost fluids, without the energy boost of carbohydrates. It is absorbed by the body quickly – more readily than water. These are good for sports of shorter durations or less strenuous sport. This is because of the low energy levels they provide.

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Taking hypotonic drinks are good for long events, however should be taken with solid or semi solid food to provide you with the energy to go the distance.

Examples: Coconut Water

Isotonic Drinks

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An isotonic drink usually consists of between 4 – 8g of carbohydrates per 100ml. They generally have the same osmotic pressure as our body fluids. This means they are taken in by our body as quickly as water, at the same time providing us with a boost of energy. These drinks are ideal for endurance sports – middle or long distance sports.

Examples: 100 plus, Lucozade, Powerade and most commercially available sport drinks 

Water Is Not Enough

Water may seem like the best option to rehydrate your body. However, this can cause an imbalance in electrolytes in your body. Your body is already losing large amounts of electrolytes due to heavy sweating. Water does not replace these electrolytes, but further dilutes the electrolytes in your body fluids – causing water intoxication.


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