Which hydrates you faster - isotonic or hypotonic sports drinks

This gummy bear holds the secret to making you hydrated better than ever before. Sure, it's got a little bit of sugar. It's delicious, but that's not going to hydrate you. 
Which hydrates you faster - isotonic or hypotonic sports drinks

This gummy bear holds the secret to making you hydrated better than ever before. Sure, it's got a little bit of sugar. It's delicious, but that's not going to hydrate you. The trick is gummy bears act like our cells and they can teach you what kind of sports drink hydrates you faster than any other kind. I'm Jesse Funk, the founder of Solpri dot com and the host of this show Runner's High where we talk about everything endurance and running related.

Now, today, I want to show you the physical differences between what happens with a hypotonic and an isotonic solution, which is crucially important for people like us endurance athletes when it comes to hydration. So let's head back to the kitchen where we can talk a little bit more about what's going on and how we're going to do this experiment. So what we're going to do is take our gummy bear and place it in two 100 gram solutions. One of them is going to be isotonic.

Like many traditional sports drinks, Gatorade, Tailwind, Skratch, you name it, the sports drinks that use a lot of sugar in them, they're isotonic, which means they have the similar amount of stuff dissolved in the water, as is in the cell, or in this case, our gummy bear. The other kind of solution we're going to use is just 100 grams of water, which is a hypotonic solution like our sports drink Sync the Sync hydration system. We're going to put our gummy bear in each gonna let them sit and we're going to see what happens. Okay, so let's measure out our solutions.

We have our container for isotonic and we have container for hypotonic. So we've got our grand scale here. First, let's do the hypotonic, which is simply 100 grams of water. In this case, we need electrolytes, but a gummy bear is just sugar and gelatin. This gummy bear does not need anything extra to make a hypertonic solution. Again, hypotonic is when there's less stuff dissolved in the water than there is in the cell, or in this case, the gummy bear. 99.83. We're close. All right.

And then for isotonic, we're actually going to need to get 100 gram solution. We need 40% sugar and 60% water. So we need 60 grams of water and 40 grams of sugar. First, let's do our water. Zero out our scale. The reason we're doing 40 grams of sugar is because the bear itself is roughly 40% sugar. So that's as close as we can make it to an isotonic solution for a gummy bear. 60. Just pure sugar here. All right. Got some on the side. That's all right. Dump this in here. I'm going to have to stir for a minute when I speed this up. I'll see you in a minute. This takes a bit. So now for fairness, let's measure our gummy bears, see how much they weigh, because we want to do this by weight, 3.74 grams. See if they're all pretty much the same for control. Okay. They're all basically 3.7 grams. So now let's drop them in. All right, time's up. So let's pull our gummy bears out and see which one absorbed more water for the same period of time.

First, let's get our scale going. Zeroed out, isotonic. 5.46 grams. So you're back out. Hypotonic. 7.4 grams. So why did the bear absorb two times as much liquid with the hypotonic solution as the isotonic solution? Well, this is fortunately a simple physics problem, or biology, depending on how you want to look at it, in that this is simply how water behaves. Water wants to move and make things equal. So it likes to move from areas of low concentration to high concentration, which is by design, how this experiment works. A hypotonic solution, again, is where you have less stuff dissolved in that water in this case than inside the cell or gummy bear.

Whereas the isotonic solution, we're trying to be basically equal. Now, my study is a little bit flawed here. My experiments are a little bit flawed in that we're trying to make an isotonic solution with a gummy bear. So I did 40% sugar, which is about as much sugar as is inside the gummy bear. But there are other things inside the gummy bear, so it's not perfectly isotonic or it wouldn't probably have moved any water in, but pretty close.

In any case, this is just the nature of water. So we want to think about how do we best hydrate? Because that's the most important thing that we need to be doing as endurance athletes. A hypotonic solution or hypotonic sports drink is going to be the number one weapon in your arsenal. And the reason I say this is because traditional sports drinks kind of take a shotgun approach.

They try to do everything all at once and end up not doing everything really well. It's kind of like Jack of all trades, master of none. If that's how you want to approach it, great. But you're going to be missing out on getting the best out of yourself and the best out of your nutrition strategy by just taking this kind of shotgun approach of this high sugar isotonic sports drink like we talked about. And the reason I would suggest you don't need that but instead would need or prefer a hypotonic sports drink is because hydration is the most crucial aspect to going for a long time without breaking down. Why?

Because we produce heat. If you think about evolutionarily speaking, why we as humans are the best endurance athletes on the planet. I think maybe on land we'll save that as a caveat. I don't know about sea creatures, but as far as people or bipedal or quadrupedal or anybody on land, we are the best endurance athletes around. And the reason is because we can sweat, we can cool our bodies, and that water has to come from somewhere. So when we break down what our nutritional needs are, water is number one. We have to stay cool if we want to go for a long time. Number two, our brain and muscles have to stay in concert, meaning they need to be able to communicate. How do they do that? Electrolytes, we always hear about, Oh, you need electrolytes.

But why? It's because of this. Basically the nerve signals between your brain and your muscles. They travel via these pathways that use electrolytes. Your muscles also use electrolytes to contract, which is involved in that entire pathway in that entire span or communication. So when I think about it in terms of hierarchy, number one is water. Number two is electrolytes. And that's why you go hypotonic because you can take care of those too without hindering how fast they're getting in your system by adding in that sugar. The reason I make carbs number three is because though we as endurance athletes, if we're going for a long time, in particular over 90 minutes, we do need carbs.

But under that period of time, they're not necessary. Our body stores about 2 hours of readily usable glycogen. That's sugar in our muscles for us to work out with without the need for replenishment. Beyond that, though, if we think about why we need the sugar, we also have to think about that speed and digestion, right? So we know that a mix of carbohydrate sources helps us digest them faster. So we can't digest more than roughly 60 grams of any given type of sugar. So there's different types of sugar, glucose, fructose, galactose, lactose, on and on.

So when we take a mix of these different types of carbs, then we can digest them faster, use them more readily in our bodies for glycogen as we break them down, turn them into glycogen for the muscles to use. The trick here, though, is when you have a sports drink that is serving you one type of sugar the entire time, you're doing two things that you're working against yourself.

One, you're already serving yourself. All of this single, often single type of sugar sometimes mix. It just depends on what your product is. But also you don't necessarily know how much sugar you've consumed, which is especially important if you have GI related issues, meaning you feel like you need to go poop in the middle of your race. Sometimes that's because you haven't taken it enough water and you've taken in too many calories.

So by separating sugar out to be a third component where you control separately and you say, I know that I can consume up to 200 grams or not 200 grams, 200 calories an hour of sugar. Then you can say, okay, that's what I need. I can say, let's take it in at these particular intervals and you can make adjustments to them separately without having to take them all at once. And again, take that shotgun approach where you don't necessarily get everything you need in their maximum or optimal ratios. That's why we put together Sync the hydration system that deals with your personal needs.

When it comes to electrolytes, everybody loses a different amount of electrolytes in their sweat. That means that we each have different needs. So if you want to learn more about Sync, go to our shop Solpri dot com slash shop. It'll be at the top of the shop page there. I hope to see you around on the next episode of Runner's High.

Google Pay Mastercard PayPal Shop Pay SOFORT Visa