If you go to any sports store and ask for electric light powder, you are more than likely to be handed a packet with 20g of sugar. Most people believe that sugar is a source of high energy, which it is. The problem with sugar (for me at least) is that it causes energy highs followed by serious energy lows. You can argue that you can just continue to slurp down sugar drinks to keep the highs coming, but after a while, your stomach will begin to turn upside down. Let’s not even get into the fact that some ultra-runners are becoming diabetic from the amount of sugar they are consuming.
I am a heavier runner. Heavier as in I practice upper-body powerlifting. I am approx. 183LBS. and 5’10.75″. I am by no means overweight, but with running ultras, I need to have an extremely low body fat composition to compete with the less muscular, faster individuals. To cut weight this season I turned to a no-sugar diet, and seriously decreased my alcohol consumption. While I experimented with a no-sugar diet this spring, I quickly found the great benefits that came along with it. As we moved into the summer months I began my search for an electrolyte powder that did not contain any sugar. I took to the Trail and Ultrarunning group on Facebook and was plastered with overwhelming support and recommendations.
Here I am detailing my experiences with sugar-free electrolytes and a review of my top 3. *All testing of electrolytes was done on a 16-mile road run with nothing but 16-ounces of coffee in my stomach.*
Ultima was recommended by just one person, but it was relatively cheap, so I figured why not try it. They had a bunch of different flavors which made them stand out from the rest. I was attracted to this because after 80 hours of running I tend to get very sick of repetitive flavors. Overall, I do not think I will purchase again. For the sole reason that it hurt my stomach! This may just be a problem with my stomach, so I still encourage you to try it!
Pros: Plenty of
flavors, tastes great, high in micro-nutrients compared to other powders
Cons: Hurt my stomach
2.) UCAN HYDRATE
UCAN is great because it was made by a great company. Go to their website and you will find plenty of science and studies that back their product. This is what ultimately sold me, I was able to trust these people. I felt very nutritionally equipped with this electrolyte. There were a few downfalls though. The first being the aftertaste. It wasn’t just a usual after-taste, it was one of those stick-to-your-tongue aftertastes. I stored these mixtures in two soft flasks that were mounted in my chest pockets. With storage on your chest, it is inevitable that the mixture will shake a lot. Unfortunately, I found that when UCAN is shaken, it begins to foam up. This was a problem as I drank the foamy mixture and began to burp. Burping while running is never fun.
Pros: Great nutrition, good company.
Cons: Bad after taste, foamy
This stuff is THE BEST. First off, the taste. It’s like a saltier, less sweet, lemon-lime Gatorade. It was exactly what I was looking for. This powder DID NOT foam up either which was a game-changer. The amount of magnesium was impressive. In case you were wondering, magnesium helps your body absorb the salt. Can I also say the packaging is seriously underrated? Instead of being that annoying straw/tube length, it was more like a rectangle. These fit perfectly into the shoulder pocket on my RaveRunner® Hydration Pack. I have ONE minor complaint. When mixing this electrolyte drink while eating Cheez-It’s (my favorite trail snack) I experience an awful taste. BUMMER. Whatever, I will continue to order this product until it proves me wrong. Thanks, LMNT!
Pros: Taste amazing, no foam, convenient packaging.
Cons: Expensive, taste bad with Cheez-It’s
After breaking out of my comfort zone, I am pleased to say the no-sugar diet is a success. With the help of the running community, I was able to find the perfect electrolyte mixture that allowed me to continue my sugar-free lifestyle. I highly recommend that you try this as well, especially if you are someone that struggles with stomach issues during races! If you have any other recommendations, please feel free to drop them in the comments below.