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Coaches Blog

Mortal Hydration vs. Gatorade at IRONMAN Races

Updated: Jun 16

If you’re a long-course triathlete, you’ve probably heard the news that Ironman has replaced Gatorade at North American and European races. Gatorade Endurance has been the hallmark of on-course hydration for many years. 


Mortal Hydration will be replacing Gatorade as the on-course hydration option at North American races starting in July 2024.


If you use on-course nutrition for your fueling strategy at Ironman or 70.3 Ironman races, it’s critical to review your hydration and nutrition strategy and adjust accordingly. 


**DISCLAIMER: This article is not written by a nutritionist. Consult your coach, nutrition experts, doctor, etc., for individual recommendations. 


TLDR (Too Long, Didn't Read)

If you are considering adding Mortal Hydration to your fueling plan:

  • Make sure you tolerate the product. Some athletes may experience GI distress from the stevia, sodium citrate, or other ingredients. 

  • Pay close attention to the calories and carbs. Mortal Hydration is not suitable to consume as a standalone product during long training or race events. Athletes will need to add a fueling source.

  • Understand the water, carbohydrate, and electrolyte balance you need. Your body needs all three to process the fuel and hydration properly. 


Gatorade vs. Mortal Hydration for Triathletes

Becca Schepps, a former collegiate rower and professional cyclist, founded Mortal Hydration in 2018. Originally a kombucha company, Schepps pivoted to her first love–sports nutrition, starting around 2022. 


Mortal Hydration is not the same as Gatorade Endurance. While Gatorade intends to “refuel and rehydrate,” Mortal intends to ONLY focus on hydration. Schepps says that as many athletes pivot to high-carb fueling strategies, Mortal Hydration is meant to be a hydration product that provides electrolytes without adding more carbs. 


Nutrition differences between Gatorade Endurance and Mortal Hydration

Let’s look at a quick comparison between Gatorade Endurance Lemon Lime (the yellow stuff) and Mortal Hydration Mango Salted, their version of the “endurance” formula with additional electrolytes. (These numbers are gathered from Gatorade.com and TheFeed.com.

Nutrition Facts

Gatorade Endurance 

Lemon Lime

Mortal Hydration 

Mango Salted

Calories

90

45

Total Fat

0g

0g

Sodium

300mg

920mg

Carbohydrates

22g

10g

Sugars

13g

8g

Protein

0g

0g

Caffeine

0mg

0mg

Potassium

140mg

150mg

Magnesium

0mg

20mg

Vitamin D

0mg

0mg

Iron

0mg

0mg

Calcium

0mg

20mg

It’s critical for athletes to recognize this hydration vs. fueling distinction. While Gatorade Endurance does not offer enough calories or carbohydrates to rely solely on it as a fuel source, it does have some carbs. Mortal Hydration has very few calories or carbs (about half the number compared to Gatorade Endurance). 


Gatorade Endurance is intended to provide a blend of carbs, electrolytes, and calories for a more rounded “fueling” source. 


Mortal Hydration, on the other hand, touts a “comprehensive” profile of essential electrolytes focused solely on hydration. 

*Image from TheFeed.com


Chloride vs Citrate

Mortal Hydration uses sodium citrate, not sodium chloride (in Gatorade). Schepps claims that citrates are easier on the gut and improve absorption. 


While it is true that some athletes are more sensitive to ingredients like sodium chloride or maltodextrin (also found in Gatorade and other sports fueling products), an important nuance is that these ingredients do not universally cause GI distress. 


Every athlete is unique. Like many foods and ingredients, some athletes are more sensitive to specific ingredients than others (check out Coach Adam's blog, which breaks down the different sugars commonly found in sports fueling products). 


Stevia

Mortal Hydration uses stevia as a sweetening agent in their product. Schepps says the stevia makes Mortal Hydration sweet to encourage athletes to keep sipping. 


Why does this matter? Stevia is low-calorie, so it doesn’t add fueling value. Athletes may find that Mortal Hydration tastes sweeter than expected, and it may cause GI distress in athletes who are sensitive to sugar alternatives.


Additionally, if you’re getting enough carbohydrates during your workout, you will probably not crave sweetness because fructose and glucose are very sweet (especially fructose). You’ll likely prefer less sweet products as the race or workout drags on (think about “flavor fatigue” later in the race). 


Serving Mortal Hydration On-Course for Triathletes

Mortal Hydration is not sold in pre-mixed/packaged bottles as Gatorade is. We can only assume that Ironman intends to mix Mortal Hydration to its recommended concentration and hand out bottles on the bike course and cups on the run. 


This introduces an additional variable: the potential for ever-changing concentrations. Even in the best conditions, it’s difficult to mix hundreds of bottles of hydration to the exact recommended concentration without precise measuring. That may be difficult to execute in the fast-paced environment of on-course fuel stations.


By contrast, Gatorade has many products designed to help sports venues prepare and serve mass quantities of Gatorade very quickly with minimal variation.


If you plan to use Mortal Hydration, be prepared for varying concentrations and unpredictable types of bottles from one race or aid station to the next. 


Adjusting Carbs with Mortal Hydration

Every athlete has different nutrition needs. It’s critical to hone and practice your hydration and nutrition plan – including the specific products you intend to use and your target consumption (most athletes track carbs, calories, and electrolytes per hour). 


According to Mortal Hydration, if an athlete intends to use on-course nutrition at Ironman and 70.3 Ironman races, one bottle of Mortal Hydration and two Maurten 160 gels per hour will provide about 90 g of carbs


Summary

Neither Gatorade nor Mortal Hydration is meant to be an all-in-one fuel and hydration product. Most endurance athletes require far more calories to perform well over the many hours and miles of an endurance race. However, Gatorade provides a more rounded calorie and hydration profile compared to a hydration-only product like Mortal Hydration. 


Wise athletes will spend the time preparing (and practicing) detailed hydration and fueling strategies to ensure they use products that work for them and provide the correct ratio of water, electrolytes, and carbohydrates.


If your fueling plan does not include Mortal Hydration, consider experimenting with it before your next Ironman or 70.3 Ironman so you know whether you can reliably use it in a pinch (a lost personal bottle, etc.). TheFeed.com sells sample packets of Mortal Hydration.

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