It is no secret that I am a fan of Accelerade sports drink. But lately I have not been using Accelerade in my training. I've been using Accelerade Hydro.
Accelerade Hydro has the same 4:1 carbohydrate-protein ratio as Accelerade but is quite a bit lighter. In fact, it has 30 percent fewer calories and 55 percent less sugar than Gatorade. Unlike other low-calorie sports drinks, however, Accelerade has the same level of efficacy as conventional sports drinks. Thus Accelerade is the perfect product for endurance athletes who are trying to limit their calorie intake but not at the expense of performance. Other low-calorie sports drinks are fine for gym bunnies who are concerned about their calorie intake but for whom maximizing workout performance is not a major priority. But Accelerade Hydro is the first sports drink that allows performance-focused, calorie-conscious endurance athletes to enjoy the best of both worlds.
What proof do I have that Accelerade Hydro is as effective as Gatorade despite having substantially fewer calories and less sugar? I have a study entitled "The Effect of a Low-Carbohydrate-Protein Beverage on Endurance Performance" by researchers at the University of Texas. In this study, the authors note that past research has shown that Accelerade increases endurance performance substantially more than conventional carbohydrate sports drinks. But Accelerade contains the same amount of carbohydrate as conventional sports drinks plus protein, hence more total calories, so skeptics have contended that it's not necessarily fair to credit Accelerade's superiority to its protein content. However, more recent studies in which Accelerade was compared to a carbohydrate sports drink with equal total calories revealed that although the difference was smaller, Accelerade still increased endurance significantly more. Hence it must be something about the protein content of Accelerade that makes it more effective. Exactly what that something is remains unknown, however.
Since Accelerade is more effective than conventional sports drinks matched either for carbohydrate content or total calories, it is plausible that a lighter carbohydrate-protein sports drink (Hydro) with less carbohydrate and total calories might still be as effective as a conventional sports drink, and it is this possibility that the University of Texas researchers tested. Twelve trained cyclists completed an exercise test consisting of 2.5 hours of ergometer riding at 55-50 percent VO2max followed immediately by a ride to exhaustion at 80 percent VO2max on four separate occasions: once with water, once with Gatorade, once with Accelerade and once with Accelerade Hydro. Average time to exhaustion at 80 percent VO2max was 14.7 minutes with water, 26.9 minutes with Gatorade, 28.9 minutes with Accelerade Hydro, and 30.5 minutes with Accelerade. The differences among the three sports drinks were not statistically significant, so the authors of the study concluded:
"Partially substituting PRO http://community.active.com/blogs/MattFitzgerald/2009/01/30/going-hydro/protein for CHO http://community.active.com/blogs/MattFitzgerald/2009/01/30/going-hydro/carbohydrate in a sports drink did not enhance aerobic endurance, but substitution was able to occur without loss of efficacy. Thus, adding PRO to a low-caloric CHO sports drink may be an effective strategy to enhance endurance performance while limiting caloric consumption."