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The Difference Between Sports Drink, Energy Drink, and Electrolyte Drink

Sports drink

Sports drink is formulated according to the characteristics of physiological consumption during exercise, which can be targeted to supplement the lost nutrients during exercise, maintain and improve exercise ability, and accelerate the elimination of fatigue after exercise.

Sports drink

The types of sports drink

Different sports drinks have various functions, so different sports people should choose the corresponding sports drinks. Based on the consumer groups, we can divide sports drinks into two categories: 

Leisure sports drink 

It is the largest consumer group in the market. Its product positioning is leisure and health, appropriately reduced strengthened electrolytes, add a variety of vitamins and dietary fiber. At the same time, the flavor and taste design in the formulation is as significant as the nutrient supplement design.

Sports drink, leisure sports drink

Professional sports drink

It is designed specifically for professional staff or athletes in professional training. Such professional sports drinks include high-energy solid drinks (before exercise, medium, and post-exercise), military solid sports drinks, fast glycogen supplements, etc.

Sports drink, professional sports drink

Main ingredients of sports drink


Sports drinks have the following advantages as a water supplement drink: good taste and flavor, promote automatic water supplement, avoid subjectively perceiving “no thirst” and not supplement water. At the same time, it can replace glycogen and electrolyte losses during exercise and boost performance.

Scientific water supplement method: 

  • Before exercise, temporarily store some water in the body to lower the degree of water scarcity; 
  • During exercise, drink a small amount of water many times. 
  • After exercise, the water supplement should not be drunk too much at one time, especially before eating, since this will dilute gastric juice and impair digestion.


In training and competition, due to a lot of consumption, athletes’ sugar reserves are used out, resulting in hypoglycemia. Therefore, it is beneficial for athletes to supply appropriate carbohydrates before and during a lot of exercises, which can prevent the decrease of blood sugar and improve endurance. The carbohydrate added to sports drinks is generally glucose, sucrose, and oligosaccharides. The absorption rate of oligosaccharides is relatively moderate, and the insulin reaction caused by them is stable, which is more suitable for athletes to drink before and during the game.

Sports drink ingredients, carbohydrates


Protein can help to regulate blood sugar levels, provide energy through oxidation, and stimulate growth hormone and immune function. Athletes should take more protein supplements during high-intensity exercise, growth, development, and weight control (loss) if they sweat a lot, have a lot of heat energy, and their nutritional levels drop.

Sports drink ingredients,protein


Athletes sweat a lot during exercise, losing not only a lot of water but also a lot of inorganic salts, causing changes in the composition of body fluids (including blood, intercellular fluid, and intracellular fluid). If the body’s alkaline reserves are used out, the body will produce a large amount of lactic acid during competition, and the acidic metabolites in the body cannot be adjusted in time, the athletes will be prone to fatigue, which will harm training and competition results. As a result, some alkaline electrolytes must be supplemented through beverages.

Sports drink ingredients,electrolytes


Vitamins are necessary nutrients for the human body. Lack of vitamin B will cause muscle weakness, increased fatigue, decreased endurance, and other phenomena.

Sports drink ingredients,vitamins

Other anti-fatigue substances 

Aspartate (potassium salt or magnesium salt) can help prevent fatigue and restore physical strength by supplementing nonessential amino acids.

The development procedures of sports drinks

Different from ordinary drinks, the research and development of sports drinks should consider the energy supply, nutrient ratio, osmotic pressure, good color, aroma, taste, and other factors according to the type of sports. The products should be able to maintain the athletes’ competitive state and reduce the degree of fatigue. Therefore, the design and development of sports drinks to meet the needs of sports people require a series of physiological and biochemical indicators. 

The main development procedures for sports drinks are as follows: 

  1. Determine the drinking object and drinking period; 
  2. Preliminary design formula;
  3. Preliminary test of the formula and screening based on the sports model;
  4. Adjust the preliminarily screened formula, and then conduct the animal model test, preliminarily determine the formula; 
  5. Sports drink test (including determination of necessary physiological and biochemical indexes); 
  6. Determine formula, formulate raw and auxiliary material standards, production process quality standards, packaging specifications, and trial production; 
  7. Officially put into production
Sports drink formula

Energy drink

Energy drinks are a kind of drink containing stimulants, the most common is caffeine. These drinks are aimed at students and young people who have busy schedules and need extra stimulation to continue working. These drinks can provide mental or physical stimulation.

Energy drink

The types of energy drink 

Generally, we divide energy drinks into high-energy drinks and low-energy drinks.

High-energy drink 

The difference between a high-energy drink and an electrolyte drink is that a high-energy drink not only provides the mineral salt and energy required by the human body after strenuous exercise or a heavy workload, but it also plays a role in body strengthening.

Low-energy drink

Low-energy drinks use low sugar or sugar substitutes (functional sweetener, oligosaccharide, etc.), which produce less energy in the body.

Synthetic dipeptide sweeteners mainly include aspartame, alitame, etc. The sweetness of these sweeteners is higher than that of sucrose, and the heat generated is far lower than that of sucrose. They are ideal sweeteners for the production of low-energy drinks.

Low-energy drink

The main difference between energy drinks and sports drinks is that energy drinks contain caffeine, and at the same time, they contain different proportions of carbohydrates and electrolytes.

Main ingredients of energy drink


Glucose is easily absorbed into the bloodstream, and sports lovers often use it as a powerful and fast energy supplement. Glucose can improve memory, stimulate calcium absorption, and increase cell communication.

Energy drink ingredients,glucose


The electrolytes in energy drinks are mainly K and Na. In case of lack of Na, the body will show decreased appetite, nausea, headache, weakness, rapid heartbeat, decreased blood pressure, etc., which may lead to a collapse in severe cases. Especially in the hot sun and high temperatures for heavy exercise activities, sweating a lot is more likely to cause a lot of sodium loss.


Oligosaccharides can improve the microecological environment in the human body, regulate gastrointestinal function, inhibit intestinal spoilage substances, prevent constipation, increase vitamin synthesis, and improve human immune function. Oligosaccharides are a common ingredient in energy drinks. Dietary fiber can prolong the retention time of food in the intestine and decrease the absorption rate of glucose so that the blood sugar will not rise sharply after meals.

Energy drink ingredients,oligosaccharides


Caffeine is the most common ingredient in energy drinks, which can be extracted from the fruit of the coffee tree, tea leaves, cola fruit, and cocoa beans. After ingestion, caffeine is quickly absorbed by the human body, thus stimulating the central nervous system and improving excitability. Moderate caffeine intake has no adverse effect on human health and can increase aerobic endurance and strength, improve reaction sensitivity, delay fatigue, and enhance human physical fitness. Caffeine can also mobilize stored fat, stimulate exercise muscles to use fat as fuel, and delay the consumption of muscle glycogen.

Energy drink ingredients,caffeine


Taurine can prevent bile obstruction, arrhythmia, muscle contraction, and heart rate changes, assist the neural regulation of the central nervous system, promote the development, anti-oxidation and anti-inflammatory functions of the retina, also has the role of regulating cell membrane permeability and improving exercise ability.

Energy drink ingredients,taurine

The development of low-energy drinks

When developing low-energy drinks, we would better replace some or all of the sucrose with sweeteners, and sometimes add water-soluble dietary fiber to reduce the energy value of the beverages. In low-energy drinks, the common sweeteners are aspartame, sucralose acesulfame, and neotame. These sweeteners are particularly suitable for low-energy drinks, however, we must pay attention to the proper dosage to obtain good sweetness and flavor. 

When we use sweeteners to replace sucrose, the solid content of the product will decrease, the product viscosity will decrease accordingly, and the taste will change. Therefore we need to add some thickeners during production to increase the solid content of the product and improve the taste.

We can also mix several sweeteners, which can produce a synergistic effect, to some extent, can cover up the shortcomings of a single sweetener, and improve the sweetness characteristics. However, when combining sweeteners, we must consider their interaction between them, that is, the synergistic effect of sweetness and flavor enhancement characteristics. When mixing the aspartame with other sweeteners, it will produce an obvious sweet synergistic effect, lower the bitter taste of other sweeteners (such as acesulfame, cyclamate, and saccharin), improve the sweet taste characteristics, and have higher safety.

Energy drink ingredients and formula

Electrolyte drink

An electrolyte drink is a product that contains minerals and other nutrients that the body requires to replenish electrolytes and water lost during metabolism.

Electrolyte drink

Main ingredients of electrolyte drink

We often add the following types of electrolytes to beverages

Electrolyte drink ingredients

Potassium chloride

When athletes are in a large amount of exercise training, potassium excretion in sweat significantly increased. Adding potassium chloride to the drink can replenish the lost potassium. Potassium chloride in the body can play a role in maintaining the acid-base balance, preventing rapid pulse rate, muscle fatigue, shallow respiratory frequency, and so on.

Sodium chloride

When athletes sweat a lot, they will lose a lot of sodium chloride, if they do not supplement it in time, muscle weakness, indigestion, and other phenomena will occur, in severe cases, vomiting, leg pain, headache, nausea, abdominal pain, and muscle twitching will occur.

Magnesium chloride

The addition of magnesium chloride is mainly to compensate for a decrease in magnesium ion concentration in the body. When athletes are deficient in magnesium, their neuromuscular function suffers, resulting in convulsions and excitability.

Calcium lactate

When athletes are in training and competition, with the discharge of sweat, calcium will also be discharged and should be in a timely supplemented. When adding calcium salt to sports drinks, we need to pay attention to its water solubility and taste, calcium lactate is a more suitable calcium salt.


People who engage in a lot of exercises will have a negative phosphorus balance in their bodies; we can supplement phosphorus by adding phosphate to drinks. Phosphorus can increase the sensitivity of athletes’ nervous systems and speed up sugar metabolism in the body.

Amino acids

We can add amino acids to sports drinks to prevent fatigue and promote physical strength recovery. The absorption of amino acids by the human body has no effect on stomach emptying, nor does it change the pH of body fluids or increase blood buffering due to the amphoteric nature of amino acids.

Electrolyte drink ingredients,amino acid


During training and competition, athletes’ metabolism intensity increases, metabolism speeds up, and their demand for vitamins increases, at the same time, some vitamins will be excreted with sweat, so, we need to add vitamins to sports drinks, including vitamin C, vitamin B1, and vitamin B2.

Vitamin C can improve the endurance of athletes, improve the adaptability of muscles, accelerate the elimination of fatigue, and participate in human metabolism.

Vitamin B1 can improve the endurance of athletes, is related to muscle activity and nervous system activity of the body, and also participates in sugar metabolism.

Vitamin B2 is involved in sugar metabolism. Taking vitamin B2 can improve running speed and shorten recovery time, and reduce the accumulation of carbon dioxide, lactic acid, and caramel glucose in the blood.

Electrolyte drink ingredients, vitamin

For different drink, the pre-treament is different. LINHO design beverage making system according to different ingredients of the beverage.

soft drink blending system
Sports drink pre-treatment system
Sports drink making system
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