Skratch Labs Sports Drink Benefits From Tour de France Origin
J Thoendell stashed this in Food
The next great sports drink wasn’t perfected on the field. In 2011 sports physiologist Allen Lim was hanging out in his friend’s garage in Boulder, Colo., mixing together powdered ingredients—potassium, sodium, glucose, fructose, and various electrolytes—in paint buckets. “If you bought them from the local hardware store, they gave you lifetime free shaking on the machine,” he says. “I doubt they knew I wasn’t mixing paint.” His mission was to package a healthy, effective alternative to mainstream syrupy options. “It’s not just that those drinks have too much sugar,” Lim says. “They have excess flavoring, coloring, preservatives, and vitamins—all those molecules contribute to gastrointestinal distress.” (Gatorade, which has 80 percent of the market, disputes this idea and argues the sugar in its drink is “designed to provide fuel for athletes,” says spokeswoman Lauren Burns.)
Lim worked much of the last decade for the Slipstream cycling team (now the Cannondale-Garmin Pro team) as its riders competed in the Tour de France. His job was to ensure the 25 cyclists were getting proper training, food, and liquids. “But their guts hurt,” he says. “They were throwing up and getting cramps.” He traced the issue back to the squad’s go-to drink, a popular brand he won’t disclose. He tested every other option on the market, all of which caused similar issues. “We tried cutting them with water,” he says. “But then they weren’t getting enough salt. So we added Alka-Seltzer tablets, which made it taste gross.”
Then he started experimenting with homemade concoctions. He tested those on the team’s top athletes, including Bradley Wiggins, who would go on to win the 2012 Tour. After a year of trial and error, the formula started working well, and cyclists from other teams began to ask for the secret swill, too.
Today I learned that Gatorade owns 80% of the sports drink market of $3.9 billion:
That excludes the global "energy drinks" market, which is $37 billion annually according to that Quora page.