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Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix

Late last year I started using Gatorade’s G2 low-calorie sports drink for most of my rides—they sold a container of eight individual packages of drink mix and it suited my needs perfectly. However, I’ve noticed that in the last few weeks the pre-packaged power mix has been on “clearance” at several stores and no longer available at other stores. I don’t know if the folks at Gatorade are ready to drop this product or just come up with a better marketing plan for their products (it would be hard for them to devise a worse marketing plan than the one they are using). As a result, I have looked for a new drink mix powder for my rides and decided to try Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix.

Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix

Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix

Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix was developed by Allen Lim, PhD, a sport scientist and coach for a professional cycling team (Garmin). He created this product “from scratch” because he thought he could improve on the usual pre-packaged hydration products that were already on the market.

A 16-ounce serving of this mix has 80 calories and provides 20 grams of carbohydrates, along with 60mg of calcium, 45mg of magnesium, 310mg of sodium and 40mg of potassium. The ingredients list is fairly simple: Sucrose, glucose, sodium citrate, potassium citrate, calcium citrate, magnesium, and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). As you can see, the mix from Skratch Labs provides less sugar and more electrolytes than other sports drinks.

Back when I was in high school (when the earth was still cooling and dinosaurs roamed the earth) the coaches would pass out both salt and potassium tablets to the athletes on hot days. Any coach that does this today needs to be fired on the spot! Sodium and potassium need to be taken in the right proportions or you can cause a great deal of harm.

The Exercise Hydration Mix comes in several flavors, including: Lemon & Limes, Raspberries, Oranges, and Pineapple. I bought a variety pack that included all the flavors except Pineapple. While I liked all of them, the Raspberry was my favorite—the flavor is not overpowering, but it is a very crisp and refreshing drink.

You can buy the Exercise Hydration Mix in either one or two-pound packages, or as single-serving individual packages. A package of 20 single serving sticks retails for $19.50, which is considerably more expensive than single-serving packages of Gatorade.

While I really like the flavor the Exercise Hydration Mix I am not sure I can recommend it for cyclists. The problem is not the ingredients or the price, but rather the packaging! The single-serving individual packages are designed for 16-ounce bottles, and nearly every water bottle in the world that fits in a bicycle water bottle cage is 20-ounces. In addition, if you buy bottled water at a convenience store it is probably going to come in a 20-ounce bottle. For the life of me I can’t figure out why Skratch Labs is marketing such a fine product in such a horrible size!

I am a distance cyclist and often have trouble making two 20-ounce bottles last between opportunities to refill them, and there is no way on earth I want to go out for a ride with 16-ounce bottles. It is normally recommended that cyclists drink 16 to 20 ounces of fluid per hour while riding. On hot and humid days when the heat index is over 110 degrees I’ve been known to drink twice that amount. I could just dilute the powder with more water, but that ruins the taste.

Here is the bottom line: If you can survive with 16-ounce bottles then the Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix is worth trying. Buying this product by the pound will allow you to leave home with two full bottles in whatever size you want, but if you want to refill 20-ounce bottles while on the road you should to look for another product.

 

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Gatorade G-Series 02 Perform Low Cal Sport Drink

In the years I’ve been cycling I have changed my primary sports drink several times. When I started riding I drank Gatorade but I stopped after the first year because it contained high fructose corn syrup (it doesn’t anymore). Then I switched to Clif Shot Electrolyte Drink, but stopped using it because it had too many calories. Then I started drinking Propel because the plastic bottles had a sports cap that was perfect for cyclists, but when they stopped selling it with a sports cap I started buying Propel powder.

Gatorade G-Series 02 Perform Low Cal Sport Drink

Gatorade G-Series Sport Drinks

Last year Gatorade launched the G Series of sports products. I delayed trying any of the G Series sport drinks for several months mainly because I thought the product line was confusing. A months ago the folks at Gatorade were kind enough to send me an assorted box of G Series drinks for review purposes and, unless they change the formula, I plan on using Gatorade G-Series 02 Perform Sport Drinks on all of my rides from now on.

Gatorade’s G-Series 02 Perform sport drinks come in both the original Gatorade and the G2 low-calorie version. While the original Gatorade has 50 calories per 8-ounce serving, the low-calorie version has only 10. Both versions offer the sodium and potassium you need to keep you hydrated and refreshed on long rides. The original version is available in nearly 20 different flavors, though I don’t know of any store that carries all the flavors at the same time. The low-calorie version is available in six flavors (Grape, Orange, Lemon-Lime, Glacier Freeze, Fruit Punch, and Blueberry-Pomegranate).

The G-Series of sport drinks are available in several different sizes, including a 32-ounce bottle, a 16-ounce bottle with a sports cap, and as a powder so you can mix your own. Since the water bottle cage on every bicycle in the United States is designed to hold a 20-ounce bottle, cyclists are best served by buying the G-Series products in powder form and mixing them in their own bottles—it keeps the cost way down. A container that holds eight individual packages of drink mix costs around $3.50 at grocery stores in the Chicago area. This comes out to only .44¢ for a 20-ounce bottle. Unfortunately, the low-calorie powder only comes in two flavors, Grape and Fruit Punch. This is not a problem for me since Grape is my favorite flavor anyway.

It is normally recommended that cyclists drink 16 to 20 ounces of fluid per hour while riding. On hot and humid days when the heat index is over 110 degrees I’ve been known to drink almost twice that amount per hour. Every cyclist is different, but based upon my size and average speed I burn around 1050 calories an hour while riding and so I try to consume between 250 and 300 calories per hour. The low-calorie G-Series products give me a lot of flexibility—I get the sodium and potassium I need in the drinks and then get the rest of my calories from food. Since I am a distance cyclist I am often out for extended periods of time and I prefer to get most of my calories from actual food products (it is a personal preference and not one I would recommend for everyone). However, on short rides  of 30 miles or less I have started drinking the original Gatorade—since it has 130 calories and 32 grams of carbohydrates in a 20-ounce bottle I don’t have to carry any food products with me.

Until this year I’ve always had a problem drinking enough liquid during winter rides. When the temperature is hovering around zero I find it rather difficult to drink anything—mainly because anything in your water bottle turns to slush rather quickly. However, this year I bought a two Outdoor Research Water Bottle Parkas for my winter bikes and they keep my drinks at room temperature even after several hours on the trails. I have found that I drink a lot more on winter rides when my drinks haven’t turned to ice.

Nearly everyone in the world is familiar with the original Gatorade. I am not exaggerating one bit when I say that Gatorade has saved my life a couple of times when I’ve gotten sick in Third World countries. A few years ago I got ill on a trip to eastern Turkey (right on the border with Iran), and the most comforting feeling in the world was walking into a small “convenience store” (about the size of a closest) and finding cold Gatorade!

 

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Gatorade G Series Pro 01 Prime Pre-Game Fuel Energy Drink

Gatorade G Series Pro 01 Prime Pre-Game Fuel Energy Drink

Gatorade G Series Pro 01 Prime Pre-Game Fuel Energy Drink

Endurance athletes, like distance cyclists, need to start their exercise routine with a full fuel tank, i.e., a good shot of carbohydrates. Gatorade G Series Pro 01 Prime Pre-Game Fuel is a mixture of both simple and complex carbohydrates, along with a shot of three B vitamins, that can help you get off on the right foot. The folks at Gatorade suggest you drink this product 15 minutes before you begin exercising.

The Gatorade G Series Pro 01 Prime Pre-Game Fuel comes in a 4-ounce flexible package and is only available in two flavors—lime and berry. Each package has 120 calories, 110mg of sodium, and 30g of carbohydrates. It also has 20% of the amount of three B vitamins you need each day (niacin, vitamin B6, and pantothenic acid). This product does not contain either caffeine or protein.

I have tried both flavors of this energy drink and prefer the lime flavor. It tastes a lot like regular Gatorade (what a shock), but it is both thicker and sweeter. Each 4-ounce serving of this drink will cost you around $2.29 at your local store, which is the same price that you will find on Amazon.com.

While I have nothing against Gatorade G Series Pro 01 Prime Pre-Game Fuel, I do believe there are better alternatives that are just as effective and certainly a lot cheaper. I would suggest you try an 8-ounce glass of Welch’s Grape Juice instead of the Gatorade. Eight ounces of Welch’s Grape Juice provides 140 calories, 38g of carbohydrates, 15mg of sodium, 120mg of potassium, and 1g of protein. It also gives you 120% of the DV of Vitamin C and a boatload of antioxidants. Given the choice between a small dose of B vitamins or a major serving of antioxidants, I’ll choose the antioxidants every time.

In my area a 64-ounce bottle of Welch’s Grape Juice retails for around $4 a bottle, which comes out to just .50¢ a serving. Not only is a glass of Welch’s Grape Juice a much more economical choice, but I think it tastes better too!

 

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Gatorade G Series Fit 01 Prime Pre-Workout Fuel Energy Bites

If you began cycling more than just a few weeks ago you have already figured out that you need to “top off the tank” or “fuel up” before you ride. If you go out for a long ride on an empty stomach you are going to use up all of your energy reserves before you hit the 20th mile. One of the many commercially prepared products to help you get a good start is the Gatorade G Series Fit 01 Prime Pre-Workout Fuel Energy Bites. These energy bites are available in three flavors: Banana Nut Chocolate, Cranberry-Pistachio, and Raisin-Cinnamon Flax.

Gatorade G Series Fit 01 Prime Pre-Workout Fuel Energy Bites

Gatorade G Series Fit 01 Prime Pre-Workout Fuel Energy Bites

I recently bought a package of the Banana Nut Chocolate flavored energy bites and this review is based upon this flavor alone. Inside the package are four small bites, each wrapped in a separate sealed tub. The recommended serving size is four bites (the entire package) and one serving has 230 calories. The ingredient list is not too bad: almonds, peanuts, invert syrup, freeze dried bananas, oat flour, whey protein isolate, glycerin, semisweet chocolate chips, water potato starch, soy lecithin, maltodextrin, natural flavor, citric acid, sodium chloride, sodium citrate, monopotassium phosphate, natural mixed tocopherols, and palm oil.

The good news is that these energy bites contain 31 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of protein, 65mg of sodium and 220mg of potassium per serving. The bad news is they taste like sawdust. Our family used to go camping and I always took a package of fire starter blocks to start a camp fire. The Gatorade Energy Bites look a lot like those fire starter blocks, but the Gatorade bites are drier and have less flavor. These energy bites are horrible! If you eat these bites before a race you might not win the Ironman competition, but you will get the “Iron Stomach” award. The Gatorade Energy Bites have an expiration date and the package I tried still had two months to go before expiration. After I took the first bite I checked the expiration date again just to make sure I had the correct year.

The Gatorade Energy Bites sell for around $3 a package, which about $2.80 more than they are worth.

 

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Gatorade vs. Clif Shot Electrolyte Replacement Drink

About ten years ago I quit consuming any product that contained high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and as a result I had to give up products like Gatorade. Since I couldn’t drink Gatorade I started drinking Clif Shot Electrolyte Replacement Drink while cycling and was very happy with it. Last year Gatorade dropped the use of HFCS and is now sweetened with a sucrose-dextrose combination. Since Gatorade is a lot cheaper than the Clif Shot Electrolyte Drink I decided to do a little comparison shopping and thought you might like to know the results.

Gatorade vs. Clif Shot Electrolyte Replacement Drink

Gatorade vs. Clif Shot Electrolyte Replacement Drink

In this post I am going to compare Gatorade powder mix (not the far more expensive bottles) against Clif Shot Electrolyte powder. Since I do not work in a laboratory I am going to have to round off a few numbers, but I think I’ll be close enough for you to draw some reasonable conclusions on your own. Gatorade powder sells for $4 for an 18.4-ounce tub and will make about thirteen 20-ounce bottles. Clif Shot Electrolyte powder comes in 2-pound containers and will make about fourteen 20-ounce bottles.

A 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade has 130 calories and 34 grams of carbohydrates. Each bottle also has 270mg of sodium and 80mg of potassium. When made from powder Gatorade costs only .31¢ for a 20-ounce bottle.

A 20-ounce bottle of Clif Shot Electrolyte has 260 calories and 62 grams of carbohydrates. Each bottle also has 650mg of sodium and 162mg of potassium. The cost for this 20-ounce bottle is $1.57.

Aside from the differences in price, there are a couple other things to consider. Every cyclist is different, but based upon my size and average speed I burn around 1050 calories an hour while riding and I like to consume between 250 and 300 calories per hour. If I drink a 20-ounce bottle of Clif Shot Electrolyte every hour while cycling I would not need to consume anything else to meet my needed intake of calories. This is not a bad thing, but I like to consume a bit of food while on the bike. However, on days when the heat index is over 100 I don’t usually feel like eating anyway and the extra sodium and potassium in Clif Shot Electrolyte is really needed.

In my opinion Gatorade and Clif Shot Electrolyte taste a lot alike. In fact, I don’t think I could tell the difference between them in a blind taste test. I like both of these products (and both companies) so I will probably continue to use both of them.

 

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