Hydration is the cornerstone of any athlete’s regimen. Working muscles generate enormous amounts of heat. In fact, without any ability to cool, 25 minutes of hard exercise could bring your body temperature to 106°, which is a life-threatening temperature. To prevent this your body has developed a sophisticated system of cooling in which heat from muscles is transported to the surface of the skin, where it evaporates as sweat. The evaporation generates cooling

The effects of moderate dehydration, (as little as 2% loss in body weight thru sweating) are an increase in fatigue, an increase in heart rate, and a decrease in endurance performance. Severe dehydration can cause death

By combining water with electrolytes, more water is absorbed. Additionally, the electrolytes in the drink maintained thirst to encourage an athlete to continue drinking. The addition of carbohydrate and protein further improves rehydration.

Water absorption is dependent upon sodium transporters in the cell. Carbohydrate helps absorb sodium using a different sodium transporters. Protein has an additive effect on rehydration by activating a third sodium transport system.

In studies comparing a carb-protein sports drink to water and a carb-electrolyte sports drink, investigators found the carb-protein sports drink (Accelerade) was 15% more effective than the carb-only sports drink (Gatorade) and 40% more effective than water in improving rehydration.




Carbohydrate added to a sports drink improves rehydration but it also extends endurance by providing energy to working muscles. Although your muscles store energy in the form of glycogen, there is a limited amount of glycogen that can be stored. When this is depleted, an athlete bonks or hits the wall.

In the early 1960’s researchers noted that when carbohydrate was consumed in a sports drink, it had a sparing effect on muscle glycogen. In other words, the muscle glycogen was not depleted as rapidly. The result: greater endurance. The carbohydrate-electrolyte sports drink was he standard.

The first major innovation in sports drinks in almost four decades was the introduction of a carbohydrate-protein electrolyte sports drink (Accelerade). The addition of carbohydrate and protein in a four-to-one ratio dramatically improved the benefits of sports drink consumption during exercise.

Added protein also extended endurance – more than 24% compared to a carbohydrate-only sports drink and 40% more than water. Protein added to a sports drink delays the release of fatigue signals emanating from the brain. This translates to an increase in endurance

The other major benefit of protein is a significant reduction in post-exercise muscle damage. During extended exercise of moderate to high-intensity, up to 20% of the muscle’s energy is derived from protein. This cannibalization of protein results in increased muscle damage, usually evidenced by elevation in markers of muscle damage. Protein greatly reduces the muscle damage, resulting in a faster, more complete recovery and a stronger workout in a subsequent exercise bout.

The table below compares the benefits of different sports drinks.

Sports Drink Composition Increases Hydration Extends Endurance Decreases Muscle Damage Speeds Recovery
Water X X
Water + Electrolytes XX X
Water + Electrolytes
Water + Electrolytes
Carbohydrate + Protein




Consumption of high-glycemic carbohydrates like energy gels, raises blood glucose levels which can easily be transported into the muscle and used as energy.

Energy gels were an innovation in that they are easily transportable and convenient to use. For energy gels to be used most effectively, they should be consumed with water.

In a similar evolution to sports drinks, the first and still the predominant energy gels contain high-glycemic sugars. Some marketers in hopes of creating market differentiation sell gels that have low-glycemic or longer-acting carbohydrates. In theory, this sounds great. Unfortunately, the marketing hype does not meet the physiological reality.

During a moderate to high intensity workout, your muscles need energy rapidly. Since longer-acting or low-glycemic sugars require more time to pass from the GI tract to the blood, they are not as readily available. As a result, the muscle cells continue to burn glycogen, depleting their finite stores

The addition of protein to energy gels illustrated that even in different forms, protein offers significant benefits in terms of extending endurance and reducing post-exercise muscle damage. In a study comparing the carbohydrate-only gel, GU, to a carb-protein gel, the carb-protein gel (Accel Gel/2nd Surge) increased endurance by 13% and decreased muscle damage by 50%.

Caffeine is an excellent addition to an energy gels. Consumed during exercise caffeine in combination with carbohydrate and protein (Accel Gel/2nd Surge) extends endurance via two mechanism (1) By delivering more carbohydrate to working muscles and (2) by inhibiting fatigue signals that emanate in the brain.

The table below compares different gel products.

  Accel Gel®
2nd Surge®
Cliff® Hammer
Protein  3-5 grams 0.45 grams 1.4 grams  0 0 0.1 grams
Carbohydrate 18-20 grams  20-23 21 27  24-27 grams  19-23 grams
Caffeine  20-40, 100 mg  50-60,125 mg 125, 180 mg 50 mg  0, 25, 50, 100 mg 0, 25, 50 mg
Calories  100  100 100 100 100-110 80-100
Peer Reviewed Studies 7  0 0 0 0 0
Proven Effect on Endurance 27%  No Published Studies  No Published Studies  No Published Studies  No Published Studies  No Published Studies
Proven Effect on Muscle Damage 50%  No Published Studies  No Published Studies  No Published Studies  No Published Studies  No Published Studies




After a moderate to hard workout your body is dehydrated, muscle glycogen stores are depleted, muscle protein synthesis is inhibited, protein degradation is activated, the primary stress hormone, cortisol, is elevated and there is an increase in free radicals formation.

The 45 minutes following your workout is the most important interval of your work in terms of increasing muscle strength and raising the training level. During this time muscle metabolic machinery switches from a catabolic (breakdown) state to an anabolic (rebuilding) one.

The signal that turns on the muscle’s metabolic machinery is the hormone insulin. The 45 minute window can be defined as the muscle cell’s sensitivity to insulin. In the 45 minutes following exercise the muscle are very sensitive to insulin. After 45 minutes insulin sensitive is reduced. This is why recovery measures taken after 45 minutes are much less effective

All that is required to optimize recovery during the interval when the recovery window is opened is the right combination of nutrients. Although a carbohydrate electrolyte beverage was the standard four decades the introduction of the first carbohydrate protein recovery beverage (Endurox R4) using the patented 4:1 ratio represented a milestone in advancing the science of recovery.

Over 18 peer reviewed studies showed that Endurox R4, compared to a conventional carbohydrate drink:

  • Increased glycogen replenishment by 128%
  • Decreased muscle damage by 36%
  • Increased protein synthesis by 400% (and 38% greater than a protein drink

Endurox R4 also proved conclusively the importance of the recovery window in raising the training level. Studies showed the Endurox R4 extended endurance in a subsequent work up to 55% greater than a carbohydrate recovery drink.

The table below compares the advantages of different recovery drinks.

Recovery Beverage Composition Restores Fluid Balance Replenishes Glycogen Stores Decreases Free Radicals Increases Muscle Protein Synthesis Decreases Muscle Protein Degradation
Water X
Water-Electrolyte X
Carbohydrate + Electrolyte XX XX X X
Protein XX XX
Car + Electrolyte + Protein + Antioxidant