Discover my 2017 comparative chart of 35 sports drinks sold on the market and based on their nutritional analysis with a notion of quality and price.
For 5 years and as a Sport Dietitian and nutritionist, I realise comparisons of sold sports products (drinks, bars, gels and recovery drinks) allowing to whoever wants to know the nutritional value of each brand and to make their choice knowingly.
The update of the chart in February 2017 is complete with 35 compared ernergy drinks, composition modifications, prices and especially the taking into account of the sugars’ quality brought through the sugar/carbohydrates ratio and the nutritional analysis! I should point out that 2 brands have now disappeared ! Coco & Rico® and Duo Tonic® whereas Maxim® and Authentic® nutrition were created.
Comparative principle and notation system
What makes this comparative chart a reliable tool are the following points, showing its neutrality:
The entire comparison is realised via obligatory information given by the brand about their drink’s nutritional values, which implies no cheating. I analyse what they’re composed with and do not rely on the taste (which is very personal), or any potential public or commercial relations that I’m sometimes asked for (like “I give you an annual endowment and you only say good things about our brand”). I am always sceptical when I read some brand reviews from bloggers that really look like the texts I’m asked to write as an endowment counterpart.
Some brands like Herbalife®, Torq®… do not put over the Internet their composition and nutritional analysis, so I cannot include them in my chart!
It is important to note that since the allegations regulation, brands cannot communicate (chich does not stop most of them of doing it!) about an ingredient whose Nutritional Reference Value (NRV) are under 15%! As a consequence, a lot of brands give their nutritional information relating to 100g of their product and not to 1 serving/container. With 100g comparative basis, the information look like they fit in the regulation. Smart! But i’m careful with that trick.
Quality note: From nutritional analysis, I take off 3 points as soon as an important ingredient is missing or in too small quantities (under 50% of hourly needs): carbohydrates, sodium, potassium, magnesium, B vitamin, antioxidants (C, E vitamins or Zinc), BCAAs. 1,5 point is taken off if the ingredient is under dosed to + 50% of hourly needs.
2017 INNOVATION: Since this edition, I’m doing the sugar(carbohydrates ratio of the nutritional analysis and I take off 1,5 point if it is between 50% and 75%, 3 points if it is between 75,1% and 100%. Then, it favours the complexity of the carbohydrate ration between carbohydrates coming from different sources : simple (glucose, fructose, saccharose, dextrose…) and complex (maltodextrin, starch…). At the end, it gives us a larger panel regarding the assimilation speed (more or less quick), interesting for stamina sports (trail, marathon, ultra, triathlon…).
Price note: For each drink, I indicate the price per kilogram to which I apply a scale note.
You can find a PDF chart to download with all the results and also, on this page, a per ingredient per drink/ brand resume, very interesting.
On my opinion, some brands do not respect the Internet surfer and that’s the reason why : [March 14th 2017 Edit : The relation text of the GU drink on irun.fr has been modified so my rant has no more reason to be].
As last year, there is brand calling its drink “BCAA Progressive Peformance Sports Drink” but which, in its nutritional analysis, mentions no BCAA values. As a reminder, BCAA are protein issued and represent in value between 10% and 100% regarding if only the BCAA have been extracted (see article BCAA). For Fenioux Multisports, it represents at best 0,67g per jar or at least 0,07g! The gap is far from neutral even if at the end, it is very marketed, especially when we know that several brands are above1g per jar!
Another point, Fenioux Multisports claims about those same BCAA with a nice “muscular integrity maintained thanks to the BCAA”. It’s a slightly exaggerated!
This brand brings studies precising that the paragraph is no claim while claiming… Except that at one point, saying that their Booster Trail product has “an anti inflammatory action thanks to the nettle” is an over saying. However, their drink is pretty well ranked.
The specialty of this brand is that it has an official retailer : Sportfood Center. Which is weird is that for one product, there is 2 different nutritional analysis on their websites, and especially regarding the vitamins! For your information, I selected the more complete nutritional analysis but this is definitely unprofessional of them!
This brand is communicating on the fact that they have BCAA, which is true at some point. They indeed have proteins (as a reminder, BCAAs come from proteins, see article), but they don’t mention it in their nutritional analysis! If they use that data as a marketing argument (which can be good), it’s preferable to detail it afterwards in the nutritional analysis of the product.
- Find the more present brands over the Internet => I counted 35 drinks
- Have a simple and efficient comparison point for the web surfers => I compare from the brand recommendations for 500mL (meaning 1 jar).
- Pop the important ingredients out and their basis weight, and find the missing ingredients => these ingredients and their basic weights are defined by the European law and some of my field feedback.
- Create a price per kilogram in order to compare the real cost of the drink.
- Note regarding a criteria that I created (and explained) the quality of the drink and its price in order to get a global note. This one can be modified if your basis criteria either price or quality.
Here are the compared brands (by alphabetical order) : Affysport® – Aptonia® – Apurna® – Authentic Nutrition® – Eafit® – Effinov Nutrition® – Ergysport® – Eric Favre® – Etixx® – Fenioux Multisport® – GU® – High5® – Inkospor® – Isostar® – Isoxan® – Maxim® – MX3® – Nutratlétic® – Nutrisens® sport (ex GO2®) – Powerade® – Overstim’s® – Oxsitis® – PiLeJe® – PowerBar® – Punch Power® – SIS® – Sponser® – Squeezy® – STC Nutrition® – +Watt® – Wiggle®
Comparative result of sports drinks 2017
The ranking is done as a function of the best quality/price note regarding the nutritional analysis established between the 4th and the 18th of February 2017. If you have more concern about quality, my chart can be helpful to chose with 3 brands having above 14/20.
Advised ingredients and comparison resume (35 compared drinks)
- Carbohydrates: I advise a minimum of 30g (and 500mL of drink) by effort hour and by jar. The panel comes from 7g (Powerade®) to 59g (GU®). It is very important to be between 30 and 35g, under being too little, above bringing digestive disorders (but each individual has its own level of tolerance). 19 drinks have more than 30g, 2 brands have between 27,5g and 29,9g and 10 drinks have less than 27,5g. Average of the panel : 34,28g.
- Carbohydrates/sugar ratio: 2017 innovation, I advise a sugar ratio under 50% in order to guide towards a qualitative and a larger panel of the different brought carbohydrates (maltodextrin, glucose, fructose, saccharose…). 9 brands are under 50%, 16 between 50% and 75% and the rest above 75%. Average of the panel : 56%.
- Sodium : I advise a minimum of 300mg per effort hour. Impressive gap with the 12mg of MX3®(in other words it contains nothing!) and the 600mg of the High5® drink! Average of the panel : 245,9mg.
- Potassium : The European Regulation authorizes 300mg per container, which I agree with. 3 brands are well dosed (Aptonia®, Effinov® and Nutrisens® Sport with Booster Trail), 6 have between 150 and 299mg, 12 have between 1 and 149mg and the rest don’t have any. Average of the panel : 151,97mg.
- Magnesium : The European law alleges at 56mg which I agree with. 9 drinks are well dosed, 8 have between 28mg and 55mg, 6 less than 27mg and the rest do not have any. Average of the panel : 53,40mg.
- B vitamin: I advise the presence of at least 2 B vitamins. 17 drinks have them, 7 have only one and the rest do not have any (mainly the “American” drinks).
- Antioxidants: It is about C vitamins (minimum 12mg), E vitamins (1,8mg) or zinc (2,5mg). Those data are coming from the European law. 20 drinks have them, 1 is not correctly dosed and 16 have none. Average of the panel : 24,3mg of C vitamin.
- BCAAs: I advise 1g per jar. This product is trendy, especially in Ultra. Some brands indicate having some without saying the dosage. 30 brands have none, 1 under 50% (Ergysport®), 2 between 0,5g and 1g (GU®, PiLeJe® and Overstim’s®) and 2 are correctly dosed (Nutratlétic® and Effinov® Sport).
- Average price is 35,30€ per kg (+4,7% versus 2016) with a price starting at 8€ (Wiggle®) to 3,24€ (Effinov® Sport) per kg!
Here is the complete ranking from the best quality/price ratio to the worst. You can find in the PDF chart below all the details, per ingredients.
You can search your drink by typing it in the browser below:
Packagings are coming from the brands associated websites.
|RESULTS OF THE COMPARATIVE CHARTS OF SPORTS DRINKS 2017|
Classification by notes
|PODIUM QUALITY/PRICE||PODIUM QUALITY||PODIUM PRICE|
- Quality/price podium : Iso+ d’Aptonia® (16.75/20) in front of Power Drink d’Inkospor® (14.5/20) and 2-4h energy drink of Eafit® (14/20)
- Quality podium : Nutraperf of Nutratlétic® and Hydraminov d’Effinov® Sport with 15.5/20 followed by Iso+ of Aptonia®
- Price podium : Energy drink of Wiggle® (20/20) in front of Iso+ of Aptonia® et 19.5/20 and Isoactive of PowerBar® at 19.
Here is my comparison of sports drinks. It is appreciated as it’s independent, based on the nutritional analysis which is legally mandatory.
I hope I did help you in your sports drink choice.
Know that every sportsman needs to choose the drink that better fits him/her!
Dietitian Sports Nutritionist