When it was developed in 1965, Gatorade was revolutionary; now it’s old hat. The new class of energy drink is simpler, cleaner and more powerful. In place of processed sugar and Yellow 5 are biopolymer hydrogels and plant-based ingredients. These drinks replenish electrolytes, carbohydrates and sodium without unnecessary by-products, and they don’t taste half bad either.
The New Drink Mixes
Nuun approaches athletic energy with the notion that if it’s clean, it’s good for the body. Its electrolyte tablets are made with non-GMO plant-based ingredients and contain less than one gram of sugar per serving (Gatorade has 34). They still supply a jolt that helps maintain a balance of fluids and keep muscles functioning optimally too, through a dose of sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium.
Ingredients: citric acid, dextrose, natural flavors, calcium carbonate, monk fruit extract, stevia leaf extract, beet juice powder (for color), avocado oil, riboflavin (for color). Ingredients vary slightly by flavor.
Maurten Drink Mix 160
Ingesting carbohydrate-loaded solutions during activity can take a toll on the stomach. To combat that, Maurten harnessed science, or more specifically, hydrogel technology. Maurten builds its water-based hydrogels from naturally-occurring alginate and pectin and infuses them with energy-providing maltodextrin and fructose. It’s more carbs, and it’s easier on the gut.
Ingredients: maltodextrin, fructose, pectin, sodium alginate, sodium chloride
UnTapped Ginger Mapleaid
The secret behind UnTapped’s all-natural energy source? Vermont maple, in the form of pure unrefined sugar here. It’s packed with minerals, amino acids and antioxidants for fuel, and UnTapped adds ginger to ease stomach issues and sea salt to provide electrolytes.
Ingredients: pure maple sugar, ginger, sea salt
Make Your Own
For an even cleaner sports drink, go homemade. You only need three ingredients: water, sea salt and your choice of carbohydrate. But feel free to add citrus for additional flavor.
16 oz watermelon, cubed and seeded
16 oz coconut water
¼ tsp Himalayan sea salt
Blend all ingredients and run through a strainer to filter out pulp.