Proper hydration is vital for getting the most out of your cycling and building the stamina to stay on the trail. However, any advanced cyclist will tell you that not all hydration drinks are the same or work as well as others.
Here, we’ll give you our suggestions for the five best cycling hydration drinks for your next ride.
Cycling Hydration Options
The traditional sports drinks you find at the store do little to maintain your energy during a high-intensity ride. Instead, cyclists are better off with powdered drink mixes designed to replenish the nutrients lost during long rides.
Professional cyclists choose between three main drink mixes on the market. Each drink focuses on different elements of refueling.
- Electrolyte powders: An electrolyte drink maintains your hydration and restores your electrolyte levels.
- Carbohydrate powders: Carbohydrate hydration drinks allow cyclists to replenish their calories mid-ride without stopping for energy bars or supplements.
- Blend powders: These drinks evenly mix electrolytes and carbohydrates for balanced rehydration during incredibly intense rides.
The Science Behind Hydration Drinks
Store-bought sports drinks have excessive glucose and fructose for a delicious energy drink. However, these mixtures do more harm than good for cyclists looking to re-energize. Sweet sports drinks don’t have the electrolytes and carbohydrates needed to regain your strength during long cardio exercises.
Additionally, because of their sugar, you’ll wear down quicker. You may also feel more stomach pains than you would with an optimized hydration powder.
The best cycling hydration drinks ditch those harmful substances. Instead, they load up on the essential nutrients you lose during workouts.
When you exercise, your cells drain their water and ions, causing cramps, lethargy, and dehydration. Unfortunately, electrolytes, which offset those workout symptoms, are the first substances to leave your body during long, sweaty exercises.
However, blended and electrolyte-specific hydration drinks restore your electrolyte levels. As a result, your body maintains its strength and water content. Unlike the big-name products you see on store shelves, the best cycling hydration tablets, drinks, and supplements refuel you with the nutrients your body loses.
Related article – How To Prevent Dehydration While Cycling
Restore Your Carbohydrates With Cycling Hydration Supplements
Of course, your body also loses carbohydrates during intense exercises. For that reason, carbohydrate drinks are effective.
If you cycle as a means of weight loss, it might sound counterproductive to replenish your carbs. However, carbohydrates are essential for maintaining strength while riding.
Losing excessive calories when on endurance bike rides weakens you physically if you don’t replenish them. Fortunately, carbohydrate drinks quickly let you restore yourself while riding. This aspect makes them great during races or timed rides since you won’t need to stop and start for energy supplements.
Neither electrolyte nor carbohydrate blends are objectively better. The one you choose should depend on your cycling style.
What To Look For In A Hydration Drink
With all the different cycling hydration drinks and the companies that make them, it’s essential to know what to look for before committing to a product.
Dozens of factors can sway your purchase. However, some of the most important are ingredient balance, how you cycle, and what your taste buds prefer.
- The right nutrients: Electrolyte and carbohydrate hydration drinks both energize you during cycling sessions. Yet, each is a better fit for a different type of rider. For example, electrolyte blends are ideal for casual riders needing proper hydration during rides. However, carbohydrate mixes work best for professional riders who can’t waste time eating during a session.
- Specific ingredient balances: The best cycling hydration drinks contain sodium and potassium to replenish your electrolytes. Additionally, blended hydration powders should have at least a 3% carbohydrate solution to refill calories. Yet, they should be no higher than 4% to avoid sluggishness.
- Flavor: How your cycling hydration drink tastes is just as important as how it refuels your body. Although the best beverages don’t utilize glucose and fructose like less beneficial ones, you can still find several tasty products. Many brands offer several flavor options to meet your flavor preference.
Interesting read – Nutrition Tips For A Gran Fondo
The Five Best Cycling Hydration Drinks And Tablets
We can now look at five of the most celebrated and beneficial beverages available. Again, not all of these drinks will work for every cyclist. Among them, however, you’ll find a great candidate for your next ride, whether it’s a casual exercise or a competitive race.
Skratch Labs dedicates more time and resources to perfecting its hydration formula than most energy drink brands. The result is a tasty hydration drink that checks most boxes you would want from an electrolyte and carbohydrate blend.
All Skratch Labs products come in either individually sealed bags in several quantities or one tub with 20 servings. Additionally, most include a substantial 80 calories of carbs and nearly 400 milligrams of sodium and potassium.
Skratch Labs has an unrivaled commitment to taste, using all-natural products across all eight of their flavors. Some Skratch Labs options even have tiny fruit chunks for a stronger influx of flavor. However, some cyclists might find the taste and natural fruit too overpowering during intense rides.
Additionally, because of their all-natural ingredients, Skratch Labs drink mixes don’t dissolve as smoothly as others. As a result, you may taste a potentially grainy beverage. However, their ingredient balance and product variety make them an excellent option for all cyclists.
CLIF is one of the biggest names in energy products, and one of its biggest claims to fame is its unbeatable flavor. CLIF hydration drinks are some of the best tasting; however, they only offer a limited range of flavors, so you might not find one that works for you.
If you can get on board with Lemon-Limeade or Cranberry Razz, you’ll find an easy way to refuel on the go. Neither CLIF flavor offers as much sodium or potassium as Skratch Labs, so they might not work well for cyclists wanting maximum electrolyte restoration. However, they have a perfected flavor formula and are excellent carbohydrate replenishers.
CLIF also makes energy bars that create solid energy boosts after your rides or as healthy, mid-day snacks. Many professional cyclists consider CLIF’s energy bars the best cycling carbohydrate supplement available.
Torq makes carbohydrate-dense products for endurance cyclists. Yet, Torq Hydration is specifically for replenishing electrolytes and water levels. Torq only offers three flavors but makes each with natural, vegan ingredients and no preservatives.
The ingredient balance in Torq Hydration also gets cyclists the hydration and nutrients they need quicker than most competitors. Its ratio of 260 water molecules to two sodium and one glucose molecule aligns with your body’s natural absorption rate. Therefore, this drink allows for fast hydration and electrolyte influx.
Nuun has a wide catalog that includes hydration tablets and vitamins. Most cyclists know the brand better for making some of the best cycling hydration drinks available.
One of Nuun’s most well-regarded product lines is its Sport Hydration drinks. They come in several flavors. Each has a high-electrolyte density that’s the perfect complement for long rides on warm days.
Nuun Sport might be best for casual rides. However, it’s a great way to renew your energy when you’re not pushing hard.
Additionally, Nuun has options for all riders. You’ll find products with high carb counts in their shop as well.
FLOW is the best cycling hydration supplement for riders with sensitive stomachs. It has more calories than most competing carbohydrate blends. However, its simple ingredient list and light taste help consumption during intense rides.
FLOW’s endurance riding mixes come in six flavors. Some drinks even include caffeine for cyclists on long races needing a consistent push to the finish line.
Of course, the calorie count and caffeine won’t appeal to casual riders as much. Still, anyone needing robust refueling for grueling cycling won’t find a better option than FLOW.
A good cycling hydration drink should be more than just sugar water; it should replenish the essential nutrients your body loses during intense workouts. Unfortunately, most sports drinks you’ll find in the store don’t contain the ingredients needed for that crucial function.
The best cycling hydration drinks match their cyclists’ specific needs. Furthermore, they strike the perfect balance between ingredients and offer several flavor options. The five beverages listed above check all those boxes.
Not even blended drink mixes work for every cyclist. Nonetheless, with enough trial and error, you’ll find your ideal hydration product!
Related article – Cycling Nutrition: Your Ultimate IIFYM Guide