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Water Drinkers VS. Drink Drinkers



BY BRIAN FRANK

While exercising, do you prefer to drink plain water or a flavored drink? Determining which camp you fall into and taking that into account when devising fueling plans for multi-hour exercise can mean the difference between success and failure. Surprisingly, it’s a question that many athletes have never really pondered when developing a fueling plan for a long, hot, and or logistically challenging event. This article and accompanying video will help you decide which paradigm fits you best and how to apply that to your fueling practices. Once you’ve determined your innate preference in this area, you can use fuels and products that suit you.

For this discussion, let’s be clear that neither style is better; it's just a case of determining your preference. The exception is when logistics override your natural inclination, i.e., you are in a self-supported situation and need to carry as many calories in as little space/weight as possible. In this case, having concentrated calories and picking up water as you go will be necessary, if not preferred.

Personally, I’m a water drinker. Absent the need for calories, I always prefer to drink plain water, especially in extreme heat conditions. However, when helping athletes with their fueling plans, nearly 50% say they would rather have some flavor/taste in their bottle to encourage them to stay hydrated. Conversely, they tend to be averse to drinking plain water, especially when it's warm out. These athletes typically have trouble with multi-hour concentrated fuel mixtures, such as gel, because they tend to also go for flavored drinks rather than water. This can lead to over-consuming calories and other misses on fluids and electrolytes.

The General Idea

Water drinkers naturally prefer to have concentrated sources of calories and electrolytes, thus allowing them to drink water to meet their hydration needs. Drink drinkers prefer all-in-one or nearly all-in-one fueling systems with the desired amount of water, calories, and electrolytes in one solution/bottle. Below are examples of how each type can fuel.

Water Drinkers

For exercise lasting one to two hours, I carry a flask of Hammer Gel, a bottle of water, and a capsule dispenser with Endurolytes, consuming each separately while riding. For longer rides, I add a multi-hour bottle of Perpetuem (1.5 scoops per hour of expected exercise) and still carry a flask of Hammer Gel for variety and added calories if needed. Refill water bottles with water along the way. This system works really well for me and anyone who prefers water. HEED and Fizz are products I do not use. Depending on temperatures, this allows me to drink 12-24 ounces per hour of plain water while still getting all the calories and electrolytes I need. However, this scenario would be problematic and unsustainable for someone who does not prefer to drink plain water.

Drink Drinkers

The drink drinkers' fueling protocol for exercise lasting for one hour or more hours usually involves "hourly" bottles that can be prepared in various ways. It can be as simple as 1 to 1.5 scoops of HEED per hour in mild conditions. 1-2 servings of Hammer Gel can also be mixed into a bottle instead of HEED. If heat stress is very high, 1-2 scoops of Endurolytes Extreme Powder can be added every hour or two. This keeps things simple in an all-in-one package.

When exercising beyond two to three hours, the hourly bottle options increase with Perpetuem and Sustained Energy as additional calorie sources, which can also be mixed into identical or different “hourly” bottles, depending on preference and logistics. This fueling format also requires forethought in determining approximately how many total calories per hour, ounces/ml of fluids, and electrolytes you'll want hourly and mixing that all into one bottle.

Hourly bottles can be a bit more complicated logistically. Still, they are necessary to keep you drinking the proper amount of fluid and simultaneously getting the calories/electrolytes you need. For more prolonged efforts, preparing "hourly" fuel bags with dry powder that can be carried and mixed along the way may also be necessary. Also, it's a good idea to have some extra electrolytes, just in case.

Hopefully, this article will give you the occasion to decide whether you are a "water drinker" or a "drink drinker." Of course, if you are unsure, call us; one of my staff or I will be happy to discuss it with you further.

9 comments

Thank you for the information. What are your recommendations for a 1.5 hour race in very hot (95°F), very humid (95% humidity) conditions for someone who struggles with muscle cramps? I am a drink-drinker (HEED, Perpetuem) & weigh about 125 lbs. Typically, I use Anti-fatigue Caps before a ride or race which helps the muscle cramping. Thanks for your help.
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Hammer Nutrition replied:
Hello Liesel, thank you for your questions. Here’s what I’d do – day prior – add 1 oz of liquid endurance to two water bottles that you’ll be consuming. Do not increase total hydration from habitual levels, no loading. Race morning, have a light breakfast 3 hours prior to start, then consuzme zero calories until 10 minutes prior to start, then have a couple of sips of your fuel bottle. Prepare two (2) small water bottles (21 oz) with the following: 1 scoop of HEED (100 calories), 2 scoops of Endurolytes Extreme Powder, 1 oz of liquid endurance. Plan to consume these from between 10 minutes prior to start until 10 minutes before finish. Likely have ¼ of your 2nd bottle left at the finish. Take 2-3 Anti Fatigue Caps just prior to start. If you have any more questions, watch/read my 5 SOS videos/articles, or reach out directly via support, live chat of phone. BDF

Anonymous

thanks for this update and reminder – appreciate the information !!
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Hammer Nutrition replied:
Hi Nate! As always, thank you for your feedback and support! Keep Hammering in Harmony! BDF

Nate Loman

This is fantastic info. I’m currently training for the Texas Water Safari which is a multi-day high output canoe race spanning 260 miles during the day and night; our team’s target completion time is < 70 hours. The daytime heat index typically exceeds 100 degrees and individuals generally carry multiple 1 gallon water jugs at a time which can be re-supplied at checkpoints along the course of the river.

I’m generally a drink-drinker, so it seems that a blend of HEED vs. endurolyte powder would be optimal and facilitate easy mixing for our team captain who will be doing the resupply drops. I was going to go with Perpeteum 2.0 for our liquid fuel, but my question is as follows:

For an extended duration race in which both hydration and ongoing calorie supplementation need addressed along with a high water need due to the heat index, is it appropriate for the total hourly water intake (probably 20-26oz/hr based on conditions) to be met using a combination of Endurolyte and perpetuem?
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Hammer Nutrition replied:
Thanks for the feedback on the blog post… we really appreciate it! We also want to wish you the very best of success at the Texas Water Safari this year! I am in agreement with you that a HEED + Endurolytes Extreme Powder ( https://hammernutrition.com/collections/fuels/products/endurolytes-extreme-powder) combination would work excellently. That said, because of the duration of the race, a protein-containing fuel would actually be the most ideal; however, because Perpetuem 2.0 ( https://hammernutrition.com/collections/fuels/products/perpetuem) contains no preservatives (by design), the protein component will not stay stable for very long in the heat. If you consumed this product during the cooler parts of the day, that would definitely work—and you can also add Endurolytes Extreme Powder to Perpetuem 2.0—but unless you have a way to keep the mixture cold, the protein will eventually sour in the high heat and no longer be acceptable for consumption. You will meet your fluid needs via either HEED or Perpetuem 2.0, though it’s not necessary to use them both during the same hour if you’re adding Endurolytes Extreme Powder to either product. Both will supply calories, the Endurolytes Extreme Powder that you add to either product will fulfill electrolytic mineral needs, and the water you mix the products in will take care of hydration needs. One product that will greatly enhance the HEED + Endurolytes Extreme combination is Endurance BCAA + ( https://hammernutrition.com/collections/supplements/products/endurance-bcaa). This product contains the key “used during endurance exercise” amino acids, so while it’s not quite the same as the complete protein in Perpetuem 2.0, it will be a suitable and completely heat-stable alternative. Using this product hourly—including if/when you use Perpetuem 2.0—will also provide additional benefits, one of the very best ones coming courtesy of the three branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), which research has shown reduces the perception of fatigue on both a physiological and mental basis. One a race as long as the Texas Water Safari, that’s one heck of a benefit to enjoy! 2 capsules hourly is the suggested dose.

Kyle

Great info, thanks.
Do you have any data on how this may differ for diabetics (type2) or can you point me in the direction of some research on the subject.
Thanks again.
Cheers
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Hammer Nutrition replied:
Hello Cliff, Thank you for your comment. This article is mostly about thinking of how you personally prefer to fuel and hydrate while exercising and in this specific regard, insulin challenged athletes are the same. The goal is to find a fueling system that works for you and allows you to maintain stable blood sugar/glycogen levels and avoid the spikes and crashes caused by sugar that lead to an insulin reaction, aka “bonking”. I can tell you from helping both type 1 and type 2 diabetics do Ironman triathlons, race across America and every other kind of endurance event imaginable, staying away from sugars and using complex carbs, plus some protein and fat, is even more important than athletes with fully functioning pancreas. BDF

Cliff

Interesting comparison. I do both I love water but I also cramp easily so I sip water, use concentrates and drink mixes in my water throughout my tennis matches. I also live in Texas and it’s about 105 every day here in our summer so fluids are lost fast.
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Hammer Nutrition replied:
Hello Scott, thank you for your comment. If you would prefer to just drink water during your time on court, that is totally doable, regardless of the heat. Endurolytes and the extreme version come in capsules and can provide all of the electrolytes you need to avoid cramping and deterioration in your games. Calories can come from food or Hammer Gel, for example. BDF

Scott

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