When Gatorade is Gone: Fuel Right

As fellow Ironman athletes and endurance coaches, we want to make you aware of an important change happening with the on-course nutrition at upcoming Ironman events across North America. This shift will likely require all of us to reevaluate our fueling strategies for these races. 

For years, athletes have counted on Gatorade Endurance being available at the aid stations to help fuel our Ironman efforts. However, this sports drink is being replaced by a new product called Mortal Hydration. The switch has already been implemented at Ironman Texas, and there are strong indications that Mortal Hydration will become the standard at other North American Ironman races going forward.

While any change can be disruptive, I believe this nutrition switch presents some potential challenges we'll need to thoughtfully address. Let me explain the key differences:

Gatorade Endurance provided a scientifically formulated blend of carbohydrates for energy (around 45g per bottle), electrolytes like sodium and potassium for fluid balance, and calories to delay fatigue. This nutritional profile was well-suited for the extreme endurance demands of an Ironman. In contrast, Mortal Hydration appears to primarily be a sodium-rich hydration drink rather than a complete sports fuel. A typical bottle contains only 8-10g of carbs along with 460-900mg of sodium, but lacks other key electrolytes and a robust carbohydrate source.

The Gatorade Endurance Advantage
Let's first examine what makes Gatorade Endurance such an ideal fuel source for endurance athletes. A typical 180-calorie bottle provides:

  • Calories: 180
  • Carbohydrates: ~45g
  • Sodium: ~340mg
  • Potassium: ~180mg

After many years of racing Ironman, like many athletes, most of us have dialed in our nutrition plans around the specific ratios in Gatorade's sports drink and have been using it on the course.

Mortal Hydration - A Potential Nutrition Disruption
Now examining Mortal Hydration - for a typical 16oz bottle, it provides:

  • Calories: 30-40
  • Carbohydrates: Only 8-10g
  • Sodium: 460-900mg
  • No potassium or other key electrolytes
  • Just water, sodium, and stevia extract

While Mortal Hydration can provide some sodium to aid in fluid regulation, there are several potential issues with relying on it as a primary fuel source:

  1. Severe lack of carbohydrates needed to sustain energy levels over an endurance event
  2. Extremely high sodium levels without balancing nutrients like potassium
  3. No complete electrolyte profile like a dedicated sports drink
  4. Potential GI distress from the stevia sweetener in some athletes

While Mortal can provide some sodium replacement, it lacks the nutritional composition to single-handedly fuel such a grueling endurance event. So we'll need to adjust our nutrition plans accordingly. Based on my experience, here are some strategies I'd recommend if Mortal Hydration becomes the standard aid station offering (which it sounds like it may):

For the bike, have your preferred sports drink from training loaded up in bottles. Supplement with Mortal only when necessary, but primarily rely on your proven nutrition source and use aid station water to mix up more as needed. The special needs stations can be invaluable for restocking your drink supplies. I would source your sodium and carbohydrate needs from sources like salt tabs, concentrated bottles, and gels.

Lean on your customized and field-tested fuel sources as your main intake. If you're unsure where to start, feel free to message me!

The bottom line is that proper sports nutrition and hydration are absolutely crucial for peak performance in any endurance race. Having a detailed personal fueling plan that matches your body's specific needs for carbs, sodium, fluids, etc. is something we should all prioritize.

We're still learning and tweaking my approach with every race, but I've found developing an evidence-based, customized plan is a real game-changer. Employing scientifically-backed strategies has helped me, and many of my athletes we coach, race to their potential.

Why FuelMyMetrics: A way to Optimize Your Personal Fueling Plan:
FuelMyMetrics is an innovative app that takes the guesswork out of crafting an optimized endurance nutrition strategy. It allows you to meticulously track your nutrition intake, hydration levels, and relevant biometrics like weight during training sessions. The app's advanced algorithms then crunch those numbers to calculate personalized metrics such as:

  • Average sweat rates in different environments
  • Hourly carbohydrate consumption rates
  • Fluid replenishment needs to maintain hydration
  • And many other physiology-specific fueling factors

With these data-driven insights tailored to your unique body, you can develop nutrition plans for workouts and races that provide the precise fuel and hydration your personal biology requires for peak performance.

Nutrition is a make-or-break variable for any endurance athlete's success. With the right planning and tools, you can optimize your intake to meet your body's exact needs and unlock your full potential on race day.

Want to learn more or test it out? Try the FuelMyMetrics App for free for 30 days with the code: FUELRIGHT 

You can also schedule a consult and get help with a personalized fueing plan with AngelaNaethCoaching by using our Contact Page.

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