All the benefits of isotonic drinks | Hiddit Triathlon Nutrition

Dec 18, 2018 7:51:28 PM
6 min read

All the benefits of isotonic drinks 

Isotonic drinks for triathlon 

Looking for the best sports drink to keep you going all race long? Then an isotonic drink is your best shot, because it ticks all the boxes of the perfect sports drink. From ample hydration to unstoppable energy and being non-damaging for your teeth: discover all the benefits of the best isotonic drinks.

Isotonic sports drink: your source of hydration 

pro triathlete hydrating

Ensuring fast hydration is probably the most important function of any sports drink - it’s what you simply seek for in any drink, but it’s crucial for a good performance as well.

Dehydration risks

If you dehydrate, your blood becomes thicker. That means your heart has to pump harder to make it circulate through your body, leading to what study shows is an increased heart rate of 3.29 beats per minute for every percent of dehydration. For example: a triathlete with a body weight of 65 kilograms dehydrates 3% (almost 2 litres). Their heart rate will then increase by 10 beats per minute, which will of course have a huge impact on their comfort and their performance.  

Dehydration also causes your body to heat up and increases your core temperature, putting you at greater risk of suffering from a heat stroke. It’s safe to say that a dehydration level of more than 2% will always have a negative impact on your performance, and can even be fatal in more extreme circumstances.

That’s why, as an athlete, you should always keep track of your hydration levels and implement a strategy based on your personal sweat ratio. Our free eBook on racing nutrition will efficiently guide you through this.

More than water

romain guillaume racing

You’d think any water-based drink would hydrate you, right? It’s true, but water on itself is not enough for heavy-duty athletes. There’s a crucial difference between normal sports drinks and isotonic energy drinks, being the extra ingredients that are added. In isotonic drinks, we find glucose and also electrolytes that optimize hydration.

Electrolytes (like sodium, magnesium, calcium, potassium and chloride) maintain the water balance in your body. These minerals are naturally present in our bodies, but as you sweat, you lose them and your water balance is instantly disturbed. That’s where your isotonic energy drink or isotonic drink powder kicks in: it replenishes your level of minerals to restore your water balance.

Let’s take a closer look at how sodium (chemical symbol Na), as an electrolyte, amps up your hydration levels. In fact, water transits from our intestines into our bloodstreams only in the presence of sodium (salt). Not only water depends on sodium for absorption: glucose does too. So for endurance athletes, choosing the best isotonic drink is important to keep their sodium levels up. That way their bodies are able to absorb water and glucose - the two most important factors for an optimal performance.

sodium glucose-2

It goes even further than that: did you know that sodium and glucose combine to pass through the intestinal wall? And that, at the same time, they take 210 water molecules with them in a process called facilitated transport? The presence of both sodium and glucose in isotonic energy drinks therefore boosts water absorption, decreasing the risk of dehydration.

Glucose and sodium are added to the drink on an ‘isotonic’ level, meaning that the number of particles in the isotonic drink is similar to the level of particles naturally present in our blood. This triggers osmosis or passive transport: the easy transfer of fluid and nutrients through the membranes.

isotonic graphic

Next to keeping the risk of dehydration at bay, the formulation of a healthy isotonic drink also decreases the risk of hyponatremia. A dangerous, often even fatal condition in which your body has insufficient sodium levels, mostly caused by drinking too much (sodium-free) water.

Boost your energy levels with an isotonic drink 

OceanLava Lanzarote Hiddit Bottles

Logically, your sports drink should also provide energy. Your body’s preferred fuel for higher-intensity endurance efforts (like triathlon) is glucose - therefore, if you do long training sessions or races you risk depleting the glucose stored in your body.

Sports drinks will definitely boost energy levels (and like that, your performance), but you can’t consume infinite levels of carbohydrates during training. Your intestines are simply not able to digest excessive amounts of it and especially not when all the blood is pumped to your muscles to aid your performance.  

Up to quite recently, the general advice was to not exceed the amount of 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour. However, new studies have proven that this amount can be increased to 90 grams by distributing the total amount of carbohydrates in a 2:1 ratio between glucose and fructose. A principle we apply as an isotonic drinks brand, enabling you to boost your energy levels without causing digestive troubles.

We also use four different types of carbohydrates in our isotonic energy drinks - each with a different digestion rate, ensuring you a fast but steady supply of energy during your performance.

An easy to digest isotonic drink 

intestinal cramp athlete

The last thing you want during a race, is gastro-intestinal issues like stomach pain, cramps or diarrhea. Those are mostly caused by undigested carbohydrates that have been consumed during the performance.

As we mentioned before, one of the solutions to prevent digestive issues is staying true to the 2:1 ratio of carbohydrates. But we take some extra steps for our isotonic drinks:

  • We only use natural flavours.
  • We don’t use artificial sweeteners like sucralose, as they can negatively impact the gut.
  • We don’t use colourings - if it doesn’t have a function, you don’t need it in your drink. A bright red colour won’t make you run any faster!
  • We keep the acidity low by striving for a pH between 5 and 7, making the drinks very easy on the stomach.

By keeping our isotonic drinks natural and clean, we minimize the risk of any stomach or intestinal issues - nothing to worry about here!

HIDDIT’s new Neutral Taste Isotonic is the best isotonic drink for people with sensitive stomachs: its has a pH-level of 7, being exactly the same as plain water.

Read more on the pH-levels of commercially available sports drinks.

Isotonic drinks that are not bad for your teeth

poor dental health is common amongst athletes

It’s probably not the first thing that pops into your mind when considering a certain sports drink: dental health. But did you know that triathletes are at greater risk of tooth decay than the overall population? The British Journal of Sports found that of more than 300 athletes participating in the 2012 Olympics, the majority had poor oral health.

There are several explanations for this, one of them being ‘heavy mouth breathing’. The high breathing rate of athletes leaves their mouth dry, making it easier for bacteria to thrive and cause health issues, says this study in the Scandinavian Journal of Sports.

But another and probably more alarming reason for poor oral health amongst athletes, is the use of sports drinks that combine a low pH (high acidity) with sugar. This combination has been shown to damage tooth enamel - not only causing a less appealing aesthetic, but also impacting overall health and performance.

So how can you stay fueled and hydrated, while still looking after your teeth? The solution was found in a study by Asker Jeukendrup. It proved that the combination of a high pH (low acidity, meaning a pH over 3.8) and calcium in a specific concentration (355 mg/l) results in zero tooth enamel decay. In fact, consuming a drink with this specific formulation has as little effect on the teeth as plain water. The best isotonic sports drink will always contain calcium in that exact concentration, combined with a pH over 5. Easy on the stomach, but also easy on the teeth!  

HIDDIT Isotonic

In short? On the hunt for the perfect sports drink, it’s important to keep several criteria in mind. We believe we have covered all bases with our HIDDIT Isotonic, an extremely high-quality isotonic drink powder that is the top choice for athletes on all levels. Based on the latest research and real-life reviews, this is your best shot.

Want to deliver top performances? Try HIDDIT Isotonic yourself.


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