Sport drink or water?

The past two races I have used skratch labs drink mix in my bottles. I have noticed I really don’t like them and how they turn my spit into this thick mess and makes very hard to breath! never had the issue while training or doing endurance rides. I am hoping someone can offer some advice? Should I focus on water in a race or eating gels/other foods? Cut the serving size down? why does this happen when I am doing a hard effort?


Have you tired other brands ? are you mixing a strong mix (extra calorie bottle)?

What kind of racing are you doing?

This can be dealt with by switching brands and/or product types. E. g. SIS sells energy drink and electrolyte drink. As far as I can tell the main difference is that the energy drink contains 47 g carbs per portion (= 500 ml) whereas the electrolyte variant has 36 per portion. In practice this means the electrolyte drink will taste less sweet.

Similarly, you can have goo gels that are extremely thick to SIS gels which are very much liquid-y.

Here is what I would try if I were you:

  • Mix your bottles with less skratch labs drink powder. Try 2/3 or 1/2 of the powder. Just make sure that you compensate by consuming more gels or so.
  • Try other brands. For example, I cannot stand the taste of Wiggle’s house brand. Which is a pity, because their stuff is so much cheaper than SIS drink mix. But that’s just something you have to accept.

On hot days, I would not recommend only drinking plain water. You can get electrolyte tabs (e. g. by SIS and plenty of other brands) that will replenish salt and minerals.

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How many scoops are you putting in a bottle? I also wonder about your hydration going into the races. Dry mouth happens to some people more than others. I’d venture that you might want to be taking in a sports drink before your event (just very light calorie with electrolytes to make sure you’re absorbing the water), as that could help alleviate the dry mouth.

For a shorter race (1hr - 90 min) one scoop of Skratch in a 500ml bottle is enough assuming you’re properly fueled going in. You could even do 1.5 scoops for a 90 min race, but either of those concentrations isn’t going to be thick or even overly flavorful.

But if you don’t like Skratch, find something else. I personally love Skratch, but find what works for you! Agree with Oreo, I wouldn’t do water only on a hot day. It just goes through you. Get some electrolytes in too.


I really like nuun and gu electrolyte tabs in my bottles. Ill typically take 2 bottles, one is SIS carb stuff, other is an electrolyte tab in water. It almost tastes like sparkling water to me. Just make sure the tab dissolves before you close the bottle tight! They put off a good bit of gas.


I make my own mix, in a 750ml bottle, I’ll add somewhere around 100g table sugar + 25g of glucose + pinch of salt and some lemon juice for flavour. I will also add maple syrup instead of glucose if I ran out of it. This brings me to ~500kcal per bottle which is enough to last a couple of hours of racing. If I do a longer ride, like a 200km audax/brevet, I’ll mix one bottle like mentioned above, and the other at double the measurements so. I can dillute the strong one with water on any rest stop.


I mix my own with Fructose, Malto and Salt based on

It’s been a while since i had a classic premixed sports drink, but i always found them sort of sticky and too sour

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As above what concentrations are you mixing it at, and how did you progress to that level?

This was during a road race 37 miles and a xc race around 45 minutes.

I need try some other brands for sure! I am mixing what the package recommends

I am going to try this out!

I am try mixing less see how that feels. Felt like I just ate a bunch of candy

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I have been on making my own mix for the last year and like it a lot

but the key is to try to find what you like - its each their own - what works for one doesn’t work for another

For example I do not like Hammer Hed or Hammer Gel or Hammer Perpetuem (however I really like the company)
I like Gatorade but not a huge fan of Gatorade Endurance. The orange Endurance tastes terrible and doesn’t sit right. Stains plastics, there is something wrong there.
I love SIS gels
I dislike the texture of Mauten gels but the flavor is fine
I dislike most thick gels (Gu, Cliff, etc.)

My home made drink is Gatorade powder (I change up the flavor) and maltodextrin mixed 2:1 with a pinch of table salt. I can drink this all day and feel great, no stomach issues or odd energy spikes/drops.


This is almost assuredly due to adrenaline/sympathetic nervous system activation and no amount of water is gonna fix it.

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Try mixing your own. There are other threads discussing this. I’m way oversimplifying this, but maltodextrin tastes less sweet than fructose or table sugar. I have a real problem with my stomach turning in heat, and I just can’t stomach any of the popular over the counter mixes like Skratch. I’m also not a fan of sour flavors and most of the OTC ones are sour to me.

I mix my own recipe that’s less sweet/sour tasting, but still high carb, and I add a tab (I personally like SIS, but you can also use Nuun or others) for flavor and electrolytes.

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Agreed, but might as well try to eliminate any other cause, right? Many athletes forget simple things like fueling and hydration when dealing with pre-race anxiety. If that’s dialed in, then I’m 100% with you that it’s likely a stress reaction and the only real fix there is experience and subsequent reduction in anxiety/stress associated with competition.

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When I’m drinking my calories on the bike, which I prefer, I’ve been using GU Roctane. Not thick. Tastes OK. I really had eating on the MTB bike. Long races I have to mix it up but mostly the Roctane.

My coach used to have me drink water and keep liquid nutrition separate, probably for the very reason you’re discussing. I used hammer heed but more importantly, I used their hammer flasks to keep it separate. You might consider something like that:


I used to use those many years ago. You can buy the hammer gel in big bottles and just squeeze it into those flasks. They work well.


To echo the others, its highly individual. Personally, I love the Skratch powder, don’t find it too sweet at all. I tend to have an iron stomach and can pretty easily eat a ton on the bike and feel great. The one exception is gatorade powder, it makes me feel super ill.

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