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ISOTONIC versus COMPETITION sports drink

The two mentioned sports drinks are very similar in their carbohydrates content. In contrast to ISOTONIC – nomen est omen – COMPETITIONis a hypotonic carbohydrate-electrolyte solution. Additionally, it is also formulated without acidifying agents like citric acid or fruit powders and, therefore, of an almost neutral pH-value of 6.5. Combined with its very mild flavouring, COMPETITION is perfectly digestible also at high-intensity exertions, and the sports drink of choice for extended endurance exercise. In these kind of events, athletes often experience not only gastrointestinal problems, but also limited palatability of sports drinks due to overly intense flavouring, sweetness and acidity.

Furthermore, COMPETITION can be used at extremely high concentrations up to 110 g/l, still being isotonic. This is another advantage in ultra-endurance exercise, where the highest possible energy uptake is wanted. Besides, the lack of acidifying agents makes COMPETITION also preferable for athletes concerned about their teeth integrity. As a special version, unflavoured and with neutral taste, the ULTRA COMPETITION is allowing an athlete to individually flavour this drink by preparing it with e.g. tea-infused water or a dash of syrup.

Nevertheless, in our experience, team and ball sport athletes still prefer the more intensely flavoured and sweeter tasting ISOTONIC sports drink over COMPETITION. This is probably mainly due to their ability to drink during breaks and not during continued exercise. Drinking takes place in a less exhausted state, and the duration of the event is of short to medium duration only. Under these conditions there is nothing wrong with intense tasting, acidified, isotonic sports drinks, which fulfill their function of providing energy and fluid perfectly. However, it is recommended to any individual athlete to make his/her own choice by testing both the COMPETITION and the ISOTONIC during training and competition. Both sports drinks are appropriate to support the physical performance during endurance exercise as well as for rehydration after physical activity.

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Author: Remo Jutzeler
Ing. Applied Food Sciences UAS
MAS Nutrition & Health ETHZ