Jan 29, 2015
Fueling Through Fluids

From protein mixes to hydration beverages to recovery drinks, there are many options available in fluid form to boost athletes’ performance.

By Kristin Maki

Kristin Maki is an Assistant Editor at Training & Conditioning. She can be reached at [email protected].

The days of simply refilling the team’s water bottles for games and practices have faded as a variety of beverages to help athletes perform at their best have entered the market. In this article, we’ll take you through some of the options that are currently available, so you’ll be better able to help your athletes prep for their games, outlast the competition, and recover quickly.


A rice-based hydration and performance drink, CeraSport was developed with help from physicians at major medical institutions. It quickly and effectively restores essential salts and fluids lost in sweat due to exercise, fever, or heat stress, preventing dehydration, without the cramping and nausea caused by many sugar-based sports drinks. This allows athletes to perform better and stay healthy.

CeraSport is the only hydration product on the market made from a rice-based carbohydrate. Its patented rice syrup blend contains short, medium, long and very long chains of carbohydrate. It also uses natural rice or rice-syrup solids instead of simple sugars to deliver electrolytes lost in sweat.

“Coaches and athletic trainers should know that CeraSport is gluten free, it has natural flavors, and no simple sugars are added,” says Charlene Riikonen, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cera Products, Inc., makers of CeraSport. “Our products are absorbed quickly to provide both the hydration and the energy athletes need for performance.”

CeraSport comes in large mix pouches that will make 2.5 gallons of drink in berry and orange flavors. Individual serving size packets designed to mix into a 500 ml water bottle are available in cherry berry, citrus, and fruit punch flavors. In addition, CeraSport Citrus is available in 500 ml ready-to-drink boxes.

CeraSport recently introduced a new formulation called CeraSport EX1 for individuals who sweat a lot or are in high-stress situations. This includes football players going through preseason training camps in the dog days of summer.

“We developed this product with help from military physicians in Iraq, where temperatures were over 120 degrees Fahrenheit,” Riikonen says. “The major difference between the two products is that CeraSport EX1 has half of the rice-based carbohydrate and nearly double the amount of electrolytes compared to CeraSport.”

The original CeraSport is best used for endurance events and training regimens where carbohydrate consumption before, during, and after activity is essential to help maintain blood sugar and prevent fatigue. This includes long distance running, triathlons, long distance cycling, backpacking, adventure races, or other physical activities that last over 60 minutes.

CeraSport EX1 is slated for shorter events or bouts of physical activity in hot and humid environments, such as those experienced in football, soccer, baseball, short or middle distance track events, field events, golf, and tennis. In these conditions sweat rate increases, and a stronger electrolyte replacement is needed, so CeraSport EX1 has 800 mg of sodium per liter and 390 mg of potassium.

“Replacing water and salt due to sweat loss is a critical concern to persons who are exercising vigorously,” says David Sack, MD, Professor at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. “CeraSport and CeraSport EX1 maximize absorption without paying the osmotic penalty associated with other sports drinks that have excessive concentrations of simple sugars. CeraSport and EX1 fulfill the description of an optimal sports drink.”


In an effort to help athletes meet their full potential, Abbott’s EAS Sports Nutrition brand has developed a line of science-based performance nutrition powders, shakes, and bars, many of which feature Revigor, a source of HMB (calcium beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate) that stimulates muscle protein synthesis and decreases muscle protein breakdown. EAS also produces specially formulated carbohydrate and protein blends to help deliver needed nutrients to fatigued muscles immediately after training or competition.

“Nutrition to enhance athletic performance involves not only what to eat, but when to eat it,” says Keith Wheeler, PhD, FACSM, Global Director of Performance Nutrition at Abbott. “When athletes don’t consume important nutrients in the right ratios at the right time, they deplete their bodies and compromise their ability to perform. The new EAS recovery products are scientifically formulated to rapidly replenish muscles with needed nutrients after a workout.”

This group of products includes options for athletes at all levels and for all sports. The EAS Recovery Protein Powder has a two-to-one ratio of carbohydrates to protein and includes 1.5 grams of Revigor to reduce exercise-associated muscle damage. Revigor is also included in EAS’ Myoplex Original ready-to-drink shake that also has 42 grams of protein.

Meanwhile, with 100 calories and 15 grams of protein, EAS Lean 15 Protein Powder is geared for those who want to get lean and toned. For a ready-to-drink option that has one gram–or less–of sugar, the EAS AdvantEdge Carb Control shake is also available in a variety of flavors, with 17 grams of protein included to help achieve lean body goals.

“There are many misconceptions about how to optimize workout results, especially when it comes to post-workout nutrition,” says Amanda Carlson-Phillips, MS, RD, CCSD, Vice President of Nutrition and Research for Athletes’ Performance and EAS Academy board member and advisor. “It comes down to reframing the way we think about nutrition and understanding that how you fuel your body after working out is as essential as exercise itself.

“Many athletes believe that consuming calories, particularly carbohydrates, after a workout is a bad thing,” she continues. “Actually, your body needs calories–especially carbohydrates and protein–to restore energy, build strength, and improve lean body mass post workout.”

The EAS Sports Nutrition line of products aims to fit those needs, even for calorie- and carbohydrate-conscious users, by including a scientifically backed blend of ingredients. Along with its nutritional content, the EAS line is tested for banned substances and certified as safe by independent laboratories.

GATORADE For nearly 50 years, Gatorade and the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) have created products based on science and athlete feedback to help achieve optimum athletic outcomes. The GSSI studies elite athletes from a wide variety of sports to better understand both their science-based needs and desires to improve their performance.

Recently, Gatorade has expanded its global footprint by launching products in Canada, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, and the United Kingdom. The company has also opened GSSI satellite labs at IMG Academies in Florida and at Loughborough University in the U. K. With these additions, the company will be able to continuously improve its offerings.

“Science is at the foundation of everything we do,” says Jim Garofalo, Director of Marketing for the GSSI. “With it, we hope to improve the performance of athletes and protect their safety. We work with our partners on the high school, collegiate, and professional levels to gather unique perspectives on athlete needs and use this information to better serve them through sports fuel.”

To help athletes maintain hydration with tastes they favor, Gatorade re-launched the flavor Frost this year. It has a light, crisp taste and the same hydration benefits of Gatorade Thirst Quencher. While Frost has been around since 1997, there are also a variety of other flavors available–with specific taste profiles–to meet their needs and taste preferences.

The company has also added two new sports fueling solutions to its line: Gatorade Prime Energy Chews and Gatorade Recover Protein Shake. These offerings contain the ingredients needed for optimum performance and are easy to consume when they are needed.

The Gatorade Prime Energy Chews offer fuel in a convenient form, giving athletes the energy they need to consume for training or competition. These new chews come in three flavors: cool blue, fruit punch, and orange.

With 20 grams of protein, the Gatorade Recover Protein Shake delivers an effective amount of protein with essential amino acids needed to help support muscle rebuilding after training or competition. This ready-to-drink shake is available in chocolate and vanilla.

Both of these new products help support Gatorade’s core belief–that athletes need sports fuel to support them in all phases of physical activity. As the market grows and research expands, Gatorade’s products will continue to hold its position in the sports fuel category by providing athletes with the products and services that help them perform at their best.

KLEAN ISOLATE Backed by more than 50 years of science from Douglas Laboratories, the Klean Athlete line consists of seven nutritional supplements that were created to provide a safe and effective foundation for athletes to perform at their best. Klean Isolate, a pure whey protein powder that can be added to water or other beverages, is part of this line.

“Klean Isolate by Klean Athlete is a new whey protein isolate added to the sports market,” says Andrew Halpner, PhD, Vice President of Product Development and Technical Services at Douglas Laboratories. “The Klean Athlete line was created to provide a safe nutritional foundation for athletes to live healthy, train smart, and compete at the highest possible level–Klean Athlete products are a healthy way to peak your optimal performance, not just enhance it.”

The 20 grams of dietary protein provided by Klean Isolate supplies essential amino acids that participate in many of the body’s metabolic and physiologic systems, along with helping to rebuild muscle. Likewise, whey protein isolate contains the naturally occurring electrolytes sodium and potassium, which help rehydrate the body after activity. Without added sweeteners or flavors, Klean Isolate offers a low-sugar, low-carbohydrate option–containing one gram of each–for athletes concerned with limiting these nutrients.

“Klean Isolate is pure-whey protein isolate free of artificial flavoring or sweeteners,” says Halpner. “This allows you to add what you want for flavor, since the powder mixes easily into your favorite beverage or food.”

Klean Isolate is tested and certified by the NSF Certified for Sport Program, which provides ease of mind for athletic trainers and coaches. “This product carries the NSF mark and has undergone stringent laboratory testing to confirm content, purity, and compliance,” Halpner says. “The Klean Athlete formulas are made by Douglas Laboratories, which has more than 50 years of industry leading experience and is a trusted manufacturer worldwide. To ensure the highest quality products and meet the most rigorous standards, Douglas Laboratories controls its own manufacturing process with outstanding quality control from start to finish.”

MUSCLE MILK After starting its line with a protein-enhanced powder, Muscle Milk–which is produced by CytoSport–has expanded its offerings to include ready-to-drink beverages, protein bars, and oatmeal. All of these protein-enhanced products are intended to help athletes and active individuals recover from workouts, competitions, and other physically taxing activities.

“Muscle Milk is different from similar products on many levels, but first and foremost is taste,” says Luke Cherry, a Marketing and Sales Manager at CytoSport. “Muscle Milk actually tastes good while providing a precise blend of premium protein, healthy fats, good carbohydrates, and 20 vitamins and minerals in a lactose-free, gluten-free formula.

“Our products contain exactly what is stated on the label and absolutely nothing more,” he continues. “This has led over 400 collegiate athletic programs, as well as numerous professional teams and world-class and professional athletes, to use Muscle Milk and other CytoSport products while training for–and competing in–top-flight events.”

To ensure the quality of its products, CytoSport controls the ingredients that are used in its manufacturing facility from start to finish. Likewise, the company holds both Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) Certification and GMP for Sport Certification through NSF International, an independent group that monitors products and facilities for banned ingredients and good manufacturing practices.

“We will always remain true to our core values of providing high quality, well-manufactured nutritional products and functional beverages that consumers can trust,” Cherry says. “It’s important for athletic trainers and their athletes to know that we monitor the process from raw material to finished products. We don’t merely put our label on someone else’s bottle or jug.

“We also have relationships with the top experts in many fields,” he continues. “This includes sports dieticians, strength coaches, athletic trainers, and others. These professionals expect the best and trust that each product functions and tastes as we say it will.”

REFUEL “GOT CHOCOLATE MILK?” Everyone has seen the ads with public figures sporting milk mustaches for the popular “Got Milk?” campaign, which started 20 years ago. However, over the past year, athletes and sports medicine professionals may have also noticed the REFUEL “got chocolate milk?” multimedia campaign, sponsored by the Milk Processors Education Program (MilkPEP). Its purpose is engaging its audience with the benefits of chocolate milk as an athletic recovery drink.

“Chocolate milk has what it takes to help athletes refuel and recover,” says Miranda Abney, MilkPEP Marketing Director. “It has nine essential nutrients that an athlete needs, including some not typically found in recovery drinks. Some studies suggest that drinking low-fat chocolate milk after a strenuous workout could help athletes boost power and even improve training performances in their next bout of exercise.

“It has the right carbohydrate-to-protein ratio shown to refuel and rebuild exhausted muscles,” she continues. “It’s a natural source of lean protein to build muscle and has been shown to help athletes tone up–build lean muscle and lose fat–when compared to a carbohydrate-based sports drink.”

Chocolate milk also naturally provides electrolytes such as calcium, potassium, sodium, and magnesium. “These are some of the same minerals that are added to commercial recovery drinks,” Abney says. “Some research suggests milk may help you stay hydrated after exercise better than some commercial sports drinks. Chocolate milk is a simple way to make sure your athletes recover effectively–and the science is there to back it up.”

Along with these benefits, chocolate milk is cost-effective and palatable for most athletes. As testimony to its effectiveness, the REFUEL “got chocolate milk?” campaign is gaining increasing support from elite athletes.

“We have several athlete spokespersons, as well as grassroots partnerships with organizations such as the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series and the Ironman Triathlon,” Abney says. “I would encourage anyone to check out our Web site, gotchocolatemilk.com to see Hines Ward’s transition from an NFL superstar to an Ironman triathlete.”

SHAMROCK FARMS’ ROCKIN’ REFUEL With three different offerings, Shamrock Farms’ Rockin’ Refuel protein-fortified beverages fit the needs of several types of athletes. Made with real milk, these protein drinks pass the customer taste test while providing the nutrition athletes need to achieve their goals.

“Rockin’ Refuel makes the best tasting, better-for-you, protein beverages on the market,” says Blake Atkinson, a Brand Manager at Shamrock Farms. “All of our products–Intense Recovery, Muscle Recovery, and Muscle Builder–are made with real milk and natural protein, and they deliver real results.”

With 20 grams of protein, Intense Recovery is geared toward professional, high school, college, and competitive endurance athletes with intense training regimens. Muscle Recovery contains 17 grams of protein and is intended for active and fit exercisers who want a muscle recovery beverage with reduced calories and carbohydrates. The newest addition to the Rockin’ Refuel line up, Muscle Builder, is formulated for athletes who want to build muscle with its 30 grams of protein.

Available in 12-ounce refrigerated bottles or 11-ounce shelf-stable packages, Rockin’ Refuel comes ready for consumption. The shelf-stable packages of Intense Recovery and Muscle Builder are lactose-free. For those concerned about sugar intake, Muscle Recovery contains no added sugars. Similarly, Muscle Builder offers a low-carbohydrate option, with eight grams of net carbohydrates.

“Rockin’ Refuel isn’t another protein beverage created in a lab,” Atkinson says. “Our Intense Recovery and Muscle Recovery products are both made with real milk so not only do they feature a two-to-one carb to protein ratio, but they also provide the great taste and essential nutrients found in milk, like calcium and vitamin D.

“And we recently launched our new Rockin’ Refuel Muscle Builder protein milk beverage designed for those looking to build muscle,” he continues. “Also made with real milk, it is packed with high quality protein and only six grams of sugar.”

Along with its nutritional offerings, Rockin’ Refuel backed by several athletes, including NFL running back Peyton Hillis. Rockin’ Refuel Intense Recovery and Muscle Recovery are also NCAA compliant.

“Rockin’ Refuel continues to grow in popularity among professional and amateur athletes because of its great taste and high quality natural protein, which builds and rebuilds muscle,” Atkinson says. “And Intense Recovery is now the protein beverage of choice at more than 140 college and university athletic departments across the country.”

THE RIGHT STUFF The Right Stuff aimed for the moon with its formula–literally. Developed to help combat dehydration in astronauts coming back to the gravity of earth, the formula was the result of over a decade of NASA testing. Along with its use in space, athletes use The Right Stuff to optimize hydration before, during, and after even the most strenuous exercise conditions.

The liquid electrolyte concentrate is packaged in single-serve tear-top pouches, which allow users to easily squeeze the contents into water bottles. The formula does not contain carbohydrates, caffeine, sugar, or added colors, which differentiates it from other sports drinks on the market. During the formula’s development, research indicated that carbohydrates can slow down the rate of absorption of electrolytes. As a result, in addition to the electrolytes in The Right Stuff, the formula includes citric acid, all-natural flavors, and a small amount of sucralose that combine to offset the saltiness, but does not contain carbohydrates or other sources of energy like fructose, sucrose, or guarana.

“The Right Stuff is superior to other NASA-tested formulas in fighting the cramps, headaches, muscle fatigue, light headedness, and other symptoms associated with sweating, dehydration, and electrolyte loss,” says David Belaga, President and CEO of Wellness Brands Inc., marketers of The Right Stuff. “Our formula also improves core thermoregulation, which means it protects athletes’ bodies from overheating both in high-heat and high-exertion settings, and it increases athletic endurance by over 20 percent more than other NASA-tested formulas.

“High schools and colleges across the U.S., professional teams, and Olympians–including multi-medal winning sprinter Walter Dix–have integrated The Right Stuff into both their training and competition regimens,” he continues. “The formula is especially beneficial for big crampers, heavy or salty sweaters, and athletes who struggle with their endurance.”

As far as safety is concerned, The Right Stuff does not contain any banned substances, contaminants, or heavy metals–and it is also free of common allergens such as dairy, gluten, nuts, soy, and shellfish. The Right Stuff is manufactured in an “NSF Certified for Sport” facility.

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