These aim to optimize fluid levels in the body by including minerals and salts that can be lost during running exercise. They often contain a small amount of carbohydrates for instant energy and are most suitable for fluid replacement during exercise.
Fast-release energy drinks
These are either mainly or completely syrup or glucose-based, which is absorbed into the bloodstream extremely rapidly. Ideal to use when exercising to maintain energy levels. Easy to consume part way through a session, on a bike or whilst running.
Slow-release energy drinks
Usually contain maltodextrin, a complex carbohydrate which provides slow energy release. Ideal to use before exercise so that energy levels do not dip, or to supplement food after exercise.
Combination release energy drinks
Contain a mixture of both slow and fast-release energy, they are useful at any time because they can provide an instant energy hit and follow-on fuel for longer term sustained energy.
Similar to combination release drinks, but also contain protein to aid the cell rebuilding process that are needed after exercise. These drinks can sometimes be mixed with milk to further enhance protein quantities.
Best used during exercise and popular with long-distance runners and cyclists because the sachets are easily carried in a pocket. An energy gel is effectively a sachet of concentrated energy.
Less suitable for use during exercise because solid food is impractical to chew on the run. Use pre or post-exercise for instant, slow-release, combination or recovery fuel.