Now don’t get me wrong here, I love Gatorade. Be it the blue kind, the purple kind, the red, green, yellow, or if we’re going by actual names, like, say, Tropical Cooler or Glacier Cherry, I have met but a few of the many Gatorade flavors that I didn’t enjoy. But the reason Gatorade is so delicious is that sugar is the second ingredient in almost every variation, right after water. This is also why most Gatorade beverages have about 140 calories per serving, which is usually measured in 20-ounce increments.
So, while there will always be a place in my heart (and mouth, esophagus, and stomach) for Gatorade and various other sugary, sweet, and delicious sports drinks, recently I’ve been looking for highly hydrating post- or mid-exercise beverages that are lower-calorie and decidedly healthier.
I know what many of you are thinking: what about this dihydrogen monoxide stuff, also known as water? Yes, water is the best choice for daily hydration needs, and I drink plenty of the stuff, thank you very much. But during and/or following rigorous exercises, a product that delivers some of the essential nutrients you lose through sweating, like potassium and sodium, can help you extend a workout and can help you recover more quickly. Also, when a beverage tastes good, you’re more likely to drink more of it, which also helps with hydration.
Bodyarmor decided to eschew the whole subtlety thing when they called their line of sport beverages “SuperDrink,” but there’s enough good stuff going on here to overlook it. Their “Lyte” line of sports drinks is available in five different flavors, and each 16-ounce bottle has only 40 calories, plus 10% of your daily recommended allotment of potassium. The Lyte SuperDrinks are 10% coconut water, and that flavor really comes through, which is great if you like coconut water, not so great if you don’t.
Roar Organic Electrolyte Infusions
As the name suggests, these highly hydrating beverages from ROAR are organic. As the name also suggests, they are a great source of electrolytes, which your body needs to make muscles contract properly, nerves fire, and to prevent cramps, among other things. Also, there are lots of B and C vitamins in these drinks, which come in 25-calorie, 18-ounce bottles. The flavors are unique blends, like Pineapple Mint (loved it), Strawberry Coconut (also good), and Cucumber Watermelon (not so much), to name a few.
In case you didn’t immediately suss it out, this product’s name is a largely vowel-free variation on the words “Watermelon Sport Water.” And indeed their SportWtr line is fully 25% watermelon juice, with a few other ingredients in there like monkfruit extract, Stevia extract, and potassium citrate. All of the ingredients are intended to promote rapid rehydration and replenishment of electrolytes, and with only two grams of sugar (that comes from the watermelon juice itself).
DEFY Performance Drink
A 16-ounce bottle of Defy Performance Drink has 140 calories, which, as you’ll recall, is the same amount as a 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade. So why is this stuff on the list? Because it also has 20 milligrams of “Performance Spectrum Hemp Extract,” which can also be referred to as CBD, or cannabidnoil, an extract from the hemp plant that’s not psychoactive, but that may well help reduce inflammation, lower stress levels, and help with focus and muscle recovery. Now, aren’t those all things you appreciate in a sports drink (or coffee or tea)? So go ahead and allow in the few extra calories; you’ll burn them off in no time, anyway.
Stance Supplements BCAA Complex
The only powdered sports beverage on our list, Stance Supplements’ BCAA Complex is designed for rapid delivery of BCAAs, which are branched-chain amino acids — essential amino acids your body uses to build proteins and muscle tissue and that assist with energy production and regulation during exercise. And they are called “essential” because, like certain other types of amino acids, your body can’t produce them, it must ingest them. A single scoop mixed with 10 ounces of water has just five calories and yet loads you up with five grams of BCAAs.
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