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The pH of your sports drink : why should you care?

Jan 30, 2019 8:40:56 AM
2 min read

What is pH?

According to Wikipedia, pH is a scale for measuring the acidity of products. This is generally expressed in a range from 0 to 14, with 0 being highly acidic (such as battery acid) and 14 being highly alkaline (the opposite of acidic). Water is considered pH neutral, and is given the value pH 7. It is neither acidic or alkaline.

Foods and drinks with a pH below 7 are considered acidic. Those above 7 are considered alkaline.

pH scale

Why does pH matter to triathletes? 

If you're a triathlete, chances are high you are drinking quite a bit of sports drinks to fuel and stay hydrated. This is a great practice and a key ingredient to training and racing success, as we discuss in our blog on sports drinks.

Because of this high consumption, the pH of your sport drink becomes a very important factor. The underlying reasons for this are:

  • The comfort of your stomach
  • Your electrolyte balance
  • Your tooth health

Stomach comfort

The last thing you want during a race or heavy training, is heartburn or acid reflux. This especially impacts athletes with weaker stomachs and will obviously have a significant impact on performance.

There are many reasons why you can experience gastrointestinal discomfort (e.g. undigested carbohydrates, as discussed in this blog), but one major factor is the acidity - pH - of the drinks you consume.

Research has shown a direct correlation between the pH of drinks and the occurrence of heartburn and reflux: the more acidic the drink, the more it caused stomach problems.

If this is common knowledge, surely all sports drinks take this into account? Unfortunately, this is not the case... Many mainstream brands have apparently chosen flavour over function. 

This recent publication contains an overview of the commercially available sports drinks in the US. A lot of them are considered very acidic, as demonstrated in the table below. 93% had a pH below 4, technically making them more acidic than acid rain.

ph of sports drinks

Electrolyte balance

As you might remember from our blog on electrolytes, these minerals (sodium, potassium and calcium) are extremely important for proper hydration and energy. 

The body works hard to maintain an acid-base balance. If it becomes too acidic, it will use electrolytes to compensate.

Although research is not conclusive yet, it makes sense to limit acidifying drinks for athletes that are striving towards a good electrolyte balance.

Tooth health

Did you know that tooth health among triathletes is very poor? pH has an obvious effect on this. There is a lot more to tell about tooth health in sports drinks, so we will dedicate our next blog entirely to this topic.

Does HIDDIT pay attention to the pH of its sports drink?

Of course we do! Our Isotonic drink has the optimal pH level for triathletes of 5,5 to 7. Indeed, our brand new neutral flavour even has a pH of 7! Besides that, Hiddit's Isotonic also contains the exact concentration of calcium to enable better digestion, better electrolyte balance and improved tooth health.

new isotonic neutral (1)

Want to give it a try? Visit our shop now!

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