High energy drinks - to use or not?

My wife and I are training for our first London marathon. She thinks we should be using high energy sports drinks, while I don't. I want to lose weight, and at 15.5 St. and 5'7'2, I have plenty of potential. We always drink plenty of water, before, during and after a run. At the moment we do one long run at 12 miles, one mid-length at c. 5-6 and one at 4 each week.

Very interested in your opinion


  • I agree with you for the training - except maybe worth trying a little occasionally so you can use them in the race itself. I sometimes use one in trainnig if I am doing a long run and haven't had time to eat much that day - not noticed any real difference just seems to make sense.
  • Andy, well done, I know what it's like running with some weight. I was 17st when I started running and I'm now down to 15.5 st. I too am running in FLM so I am trying to lose further weight. The long runs will help greatly. I do take energy drinks with me on long runs, I think they have helped me. I tend to drink water before a long run but take the energy drink with me.
  • I don't think I would have made it to a strong finish in my fist marathon if it hadn't been for the sports drinks. I didn't hit the wall and had felt great at the finish (apart from my aching feet). My dietician friend advised me to use a sports drink if my runs were going to be any longer than about 45 minutes. You need to replace the various things, especially electrolytes that you lose through sweat, that plain water can't. If you are going to use them though make sure you use the one that they will be handing out at the marathon so you are confident you won't have a bad reaction. Good luck!!
  • Even if you're aiming to lose weight you need enough energy to fuel your run!

    I can't even run round the block without an energy drink. It's probably psychological on a short run, but best thing to do is try with and without and see what works best.

    You can heat energy drinks too . . . sounds wierd, but it's a nice handwarmer for a few cold miles on a rotten cold morning!
  • One more thing I forgot to say is that your body can only store about 18 miles worth of glycogen (fuel), so you need to think about what you will do to see you through to 26 miles. Some people don't have a problem with this at all, but many talk about hitting the wall around this time. This is no fun at all and can make or break your marathon experience.
  • expensive sugary water - but maybe helpful on the very long runs?
  • Energy gels work for me whilst I'm out but I usually have a Lucozade sport in the hour before I go out on a long run and sometimes when I come back to aid recovery. I don't know whether it's psychological but a gel at nine miles always gives me a lift.
  • I think it will become more important as you get onto longer runs - as Paula mentioned earlier (had to check it wasn't THE Paula after all the talk of first marathons and strong finishes!!) you can only store so much glycogen, and as you run further those stores will run out.
  • Iain - I wish I ran like THE Paula! But alas I'm a mere midpacker.
  • If you are going to use sports drinks then you should also look at using caffeine. It is a mild diuretic but research suggests it offers sufficient advantages to make it worthwhile. I read that on a cycling web site anyway.

    Then of course you might want to try blood doping :)
  • Try making your own isotonic energy drink with 50/50 fruit juice/water and a pinch of salt. Much cheaper than commercial drinks and works just as well, I feel. 1 pint per hour delivers about 30g of carbohydrate, which is what you need if you're running more than 2 hours. Start drinking 1/2 hour into your run, at the latest, and then drink at least 1 pint per hour. You can condition yourself to do this during training - don't just try and do this on marathon day. Not only does it keep you hydrated/energised during your run, it also helps you to recover faster too. If you're trying to lose weight, not drinking during your run is an inadvisable way of doing it. Weigh yourself before you start running and then again immediately afterwards (assuming you don't drink anything during). The difference in weight is fluid loss which you will regain as soon as you take a drink. What you need to lose is fat, which can best be achieved by a calorie controlled diet with the correct ratio of carbohydrate/protein/fat. I know proper hydration/carbo loading works. My marathon PB of 3hrs 16mins stood for 10 years when I drank only water. After advice from an old cycling/triathlon friend and a switch to the 50/50 juice/water, on about the same training I ran a 2 58. Suck it and see. A great book on sports nutrition and weight loss loss is Anita Bean's Sports Nutrition. I trained hard for many years, but finally discovered that it's training smart that gets results. Good luck with losing weight.
  • Is that real fruit juice or squash?
  • Fruit juice. Squash has a lot of added sugar but you can use it if you dilute it about 1:8 with water.
  • some people would call that "anecdotal evidence" Zorba - I would call it an n=1 Clinical Trial - well done!

    ...wonder how much it would knock off my 5 38 pb?
  • Heard about a girl who drank lots of these drinks during the FLM, never having tried them during training. Apparently she had severe stomach cramps for the last few miles followed by violent bright orange diarhoea (sp?) afterwards!
  • Very useful info Zorba - thanks.
  • Just like to say thanks to you all. At the moment I'm using them on runs over 2hrs and not on shorter runs. Going ok, but I may try to make my own.

    Only 14 weeks to the FLM - I can't believe it

  • I need advice. I did a 8 mile race yesterday just drinking water and eating breakie two hours before the race. In the last mile or so I felt exhausted and slightly faint. I made it to the end but spent the whole day with no energy.
    Do you think that I should start trying to have sports drinks before and after my run. I worry that it will give me cramp when running and prevent weight loss. I need advice! Anyone?
  • How long did it take you Geraldine ?

    I find I can run Half Marathons (90mins) fine without any extra energy taken on in the race.

    You should eat after the race though - you can't expect to eat nothing to help increase the rate of weight loss.

    If you look at the calories in a sports drink - it's pretty minimal - not a replacement for a meal.
  • My long runs are up to just over 2 hours, and i am drinking 500 ml energy drink during this time, with lots of water before and food and water immediately after. i still get a headache later in the day. anyone got any ideas?
  • maybe not enough food after? remember that you will use very very roughly 100 kcal for every ten mins run - so somewhere around 1200 (or a days cals on a cal controlled diet) in two hours of running - so as well as a meal afterwards try a protein carb snak (tuna on crackers, peanut butter on toast yog and banana &c) BEFORE you get the headache

    also keep drinking water all day not just after finishing the run (you can prob tell from the colour of your wee whether dehydration might be a culprit?)

    also maybe lost salt? bread and marmite have quite a lot in if you don't like adding it to food - also tinned baked beans or tinned tomato soup

  • Thanks for the advice - love marmite, so that shouldn't be a problem! I don't think I realised I was using quite so much energy! Trying to drink tons of water even as i type!

    any more suggestions gratefully received.
  • I'm a late-comer to this thread, but I have a collection of drink and food recipes on http://www.geocities.com/steve.collier/nrg_food_drink_recipes.html. They were originally made for cycling, but now that I run I find they are good for that too.
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