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.
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!