JUST HAVE A SIP
WHY: Don't feel like downing a gallon of Gatorade? You don't have to. According to a study in the April 2010 Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, runners who rinsed their mouths with a carb solution right before and every 15 minutes during hour-long treadmill sessions ran faster and about 200 meters farther than those who rinsed with a placebo. "Carbs trigger reward centers in the brain," says Ian Rollo, Ph.D., one of the study's authors. The brain senses incoming energy "which may lower the perceived effort," he says.
DRINK UP: For shorter runs when you want the benefits of a sports drink minus the extra calories, swishing just might do the trick. It's also good news for runners who get queasy from ingesting a lot of sugar at once. But for runs over an hour, find a drink you can stand to swallow (see "What'll You Have?" below).
Hydration alternatives: Think you always have to drink your liquids?
What'll You Have?
Your midrun fluid needs depend on how long you're going
ONE HOUR OR LESS Three to six ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. Water is usually fine. For a tough run over 30 minutes, consider a sports drink to give you a kick of energy at the end.
ONE TO FOUR HOURS Three to six ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. A sports drink with carbs and electrolytes will replenish sodium. Prefer gels? Chase them with water to avoid sugar overload.
OVER FOUR HOURS Drink three to six ounces of sports drink every 15 minutes, after which use thirst as your main guide (drinking more if you're thirsty and less if you're not).
POSTRUN Replace fluids, drinking enough so you have to use the bathroom within 60 to 90 minutes postrun. Usually eight to 24 ounces is fine, but it varies based on running conditions.
Road TestedBounce back postrun with carb-and-protein drinks
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Gatorade Recover 03
YOU GET: Each 16.9-ounce bottle has 130 calories, 14 g carbs, 16 g protein, and 0 g fat.
REVIEW: Runners found the sweet-and-salty drink thirst-quenching with no chalky texture.
BEST FOR: Fewer carbs make this best suited for moderate workouts. You'll rehydrate and recover without consuming a ton of calories. (gatorade.com)
YOU GET: One pack has 170 calories, about 32 g carbs, 10 g protein, and 0 g fat.
REVIEW: The flavors were watery, but testers noted that their energy quickly returned.
BEST FOR: The 3:1 carb-to-protein ratio is perfect after moderate to intense runs. (hammernutrition.com)
EAS Myoplex Strength Formula Nutrition Shake
YOU GET: Each 14-ounce bottle has 210 calories, 23 g carbs, 25 g protein, and 2.5 g fat.
REVIEW: Runners found it very satisfying with a not-too-thick consistency that sat well in their stomach.
BEST FOR: The extra protein is ideal after stressful workouts, like a run and strengthtraining routine. (eas.com)
Shamrock Farms Rockin' Refuel
YOU GET: Each 12-ounce bottle of protein-fortified milk has about 300 calories, 48 g carbs, 20 g protein, and 4.5 g fat.
REVIEW: Testers thought it was filling and loved the sweet, creamy flavors.
BEST FOR: Lots of carbs restock glycogen post-long run. It's a tasty meal replacement, too. (shamrockfarms.net)
More: All About Sports DrinksSign up for your next race.