What's in your bottle?

I’m a newbie who is starting to explore my on-bike fuel options. How new? I used to think Gatorade was advanced.

Right now I’m using Crank Sports E-Fuel on my long rides. The reason I chose it was because it has a lower amount of sugar vs. complex carbohydrates (maltodextrin) (30/70) and includes electrolytes. I’d love to know what others are relying on and your thought process.

If you can explain it to me like I’m a third grader that would be very helpful. My degree is in accounting and not sports nutrition and big words scare me.

Thank you. I appreciate your insight.

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3 or 4 scoops of Tailwind.

I used to be sort of stingy with it and would do some bottles that were just a scoop or two plus bottles that were just electrolyte but the fact is, even an endurance ride where you push it even the tiniest bit on hills can be upwards of 600 or 700 KJ an hour and i just feel a lot better and recover a lot better when i fuel more. So now i do a fairly strong mix even on easier rides.

I’m sure crank sports would be just as good as tailwind, and these two are probably only very marginally better than gatorade, when you’re not in teh world tour i think it mostly comes down to preference.

And note, any time that Limon Pepino gatorade is available, it will 100% be my jam

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Welcome to the community, @etaylor336! I want to quote/highlight your comment in your original post about exploring on-bike fuel and thinking about what’s basic vs. advanced. I’ve been in this field for nearly 20 years, and one thing that has stuck in that time is that nutrition doesn’t have to be complex to work. When I see a distinction between Gatorade and advanced products, there’s honestly very little difference to me. Is Gatorade advanced? Nope…but, does it have to be? Also “nope.” @BikerBocker said it really well too in his reply. There’s usually very little need to do anything super advanced when it comes to nutrition for the vast majority of us athletes.

Your sports nutrition is better when kept simple and uncomplicated. What are the things that work? Sugar, sodium, and fluid. Those get you 95% of the way there. So when I look at something like Gatorade:

It’s about as advanced as it needs to be fore most of us. It even uses sodium citrate, which most companies have gone to these days (no longer using sodium chloride).

With your E-sports mixture containing primarily maltodextrin, that’s a great option to allow for a higher carbohydrate count in the bottle without negatively affecting the gastric emptying rate. The consideration is how you’re taking your fuel - are you doing primarily liquid energy or a combination of liquid and solid? Maltodextrin can allow for a high intake of liquid energy, which works for many athletes.

You can get into multiple transportable carbohydrates and the glucose:fructose ratios, but in reality your on-bike journey with fueling will naturally come with a lot of experimentation. If you focus on the fundamentals and really nail those down, you can move into some of the more “advanced” fuels or (more importantly) move into more advanced techniques to continue to improve performance (nutrition periodization, training the gut, taper nutrition, etc.)

To your question of what we put in bottles, here’s what I put in a bottle for most rides:
21 fl oz water bottle with

  • 1 serving of Liquid IV (lemon lime flavor)
  • 2 scoops of Gatorade powder (also lemon lime)

In certain events when I feel like mixing up the flavors, I like the Skratch Matcha Green Tea mixed in my bottle. Gives a different flavor (less sweet to reduce taste fatigue) and a little hit of caffeine doesn’t hurt either during a race. :slight_smile:


I’ll just add that despite all of the technical aspects of drinks nowadays, the one your stomach can handle, and you will drink is the best. As your training gets harder and longer what that is may change.

I generally use a dual hydration/fuel strategy for my bottles. For shorter, easier rides I generally use “hydration” mixes like Skratch or Osmo. Lighter on taste and calories, but keeps the fluid coming with some caloric support. For longer rides where I need a little more calories, I’ve found that GU Rocatane mix works with my stomach, but I usually use one bottle of that with a bottle of the lighter mix and really focus on eating as well.

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Great discussion thread! And really happy to see the answers going in the direction they are. @ryan’s response was spot on!

The truth is, for decades the Gatorade Sports Science Institute was producing THE cutting-edge research on sports hydration, led by Dr Jeukendrup. They were bought by Pepsi (I believe) and shifted their focus a little more towards making marketable products. That seems to have put them a little behind the times, but I’m not personally going to say their product is junk and other hydration products are heads and shoulders better.

Scientifically, I’m personally a fan of Osmo. It does seem to be right where the current research is pointing, but again the differences are small.

What I always like to point to is something that @ntnyln talks about in his response. They did a study testing all of the major hydration products to determine which helps performance the most. The study’s conclusion was that it’s the one that you like the best. Because if you like it, you’ll drink it and that’s more important than the minor differences in the products. When I was coaching in Canada (forgive the reference) I used to tell riders that even if they proved that “Moose p**s” was scientifically the best hydration product out there, it wouldn’t matter because no one would drink it.

All a hydration product needs is:

a) the right ratio of glucose:fructose in a concentration your stomach can tolerate (the major current criticism of Gatorade is that it’s too concentrated)
b) it has small amounts of the major electrolytes
c) it tastes good
d) none of the extra marketing ingredients that the expensive products like to add to justify their drink mix

That’s it. That’s all you need.


Thank you, Biker. I haven’t tried Tailwind. I might put it in the rotation. I’m still looking to see what does best in my stomach over a long ride. I appreciate the feedback.

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Thank you, @ryan, for the detailed breakdown and the bottle recipe.

I’ve been making my own Sports drink for longer/harder rides.
On shorter rides i use Skratch. If it’s a hot or especially humid day I’ll add 500 mg of a Precision Hydration Na+ tablet.
My DIY Sports drink consists of ½ cup of Maltodextrin, 1 TBSP of fructose powder, a peach flavoring packet, and a 1,000 mg Precision Hydration Na+ tablet in 24 ounces of water. It’s about 60 grams of CHO. I like the taste and it hasn’t caused me any GI Distress.
An online DIY Sports Drink Tonicity Calculator – PowerPacing.Run Osmolality calculator tells me it’s isotonic. DIY Sports Drink Tonicity Calculator – PowerPacing.Run
It’s very inexpensive and i like the taste.

Standard mix is 2/3 a scoop of Gatorade mix, 1/3 scoop of maltodextrin, and 1/2 a scoop of Dr. Berg’s Electrolyte Powder. This should be right around 200 calories per bottle, maybe a bit less.

It took me way too long to realise that I could make a cheap drink mix that replaces expensive energy gels.

For hard rides I have been adding this to 700ml bottles and tolerating it well:

1/3 scoop Gatorade (for taste)
2 scoops maltodextrin
1 scoop fructose
small pinch table salt

Each scoop is roughly 30 grams.

The pinch of salt seems to stop it being too sweet and sickly.

Even simpler (and cheaper) here - about 55grams table sugar in an 800ml bottle and a sprinkling of sea salt (and tap water). That’s it! On hotter days I might use an electrolite tab (from Decathlon, not sure what presence they have in the US) rather than the sea salt, though I suspect there’s not much in it.

Then eat solids alongside that e.g. bananas, pastelli (a bar made with honey and sesame seeds), dried fruit (esp. figs, apricots and dates) and and any other things my better half might have concocted e.g. oat cookies with cacao chips and fennel.

This year I’ve been making my own drink mix from maltodextrin and fructose then I just add and electrolyte tablet and perhaps some extra salt on a hot day.

I’ve found I can then adjust the mix in training increasing the amounts of carbs I’m getting from the mix gradually. I’ve found this a lot better on the cold rides where getting your hand into a bag or jersey pocket to get solid food out is harder.

On the front of “what you will drink/tolerate”, I’ve found that the less sweet something is, the more likely I am to drink it hour over hour. From a hydration perspective the best I’ve found was precision Hydration. For fuel it is Superfuel by Skratch.

I’ve been thinking about trying to make my own this season and would love to hear from those making their own. Have you found a way to keep the flavors simple and not-too-sweet?

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