Every year, Americans spend more than $5.4 billion on sports drinks. Given the size of the market, it’s no surprise that numerous companies offer their own unique concoction of vitamin-, protein- and electrolyte-infused formulas, all advertised to help revitalize and refresh athletes before, during and after a workout.
But with the rainbow of choices out there, how do you know which drink to choose? While your selection should vary based on your intensity of exercise and fitness goals, there is one criterion everyone can agree on: Taste. Whether you want something sugar-free or isotonic, no one wants to pay $2.50 for a drink they’ll need to plug their nose to swallow.
Therefore, when creating our list of the best and worst sports drinks, we chose products that cover the gamut, from recovery drinks full of protein to 0-calorie vitamin mixes.
To choose between them, we held a blind taste test in our office (see the photo below). Each powder drink was mixed according to instructions and ready-to-drink samples were poured straight into tasting cups. Our team of editors and interns then went to work, sampling each mystery beverage.
Over the next half hour, reactions ranged from "What did I just put in my mouth?!" to "Hey, that's pretty good!" In the end, we were left with a few beverages to recommend, and a whole host of drinks we will never pick up again.
We took notes and ranked the samples from best to worst. If you're curious to see which drinks came out on top, check out our slideshow.