Saving Money As An Endurance Athlete

by Alex Harrison | May 03, 2020

Here are some quarantine-friendly, money-saving tips for endurance athletes!

Use table sugar for 80% of intra-workout carbs.

Flavor with whatever beverage you typically use. Saves big $$$$, keeps flavor mild, and moves sugar composition closer to 1:1 glucose:fructose, which is probably more ideal than the 2:1 or worse that is in most drink mixes.

Cheapest Gatorade: $1 / 200g carbs.

Average sugar price: ~$0.25 / 200g carbs.

Use table salt rather than expensive higher-electrolyte endurance drink mixes.

Most people benefit from higher sodium content in their beverages, and there is little, if any benefit from higher potassium in endurance beverages. For all but the most extreme training and environments, with good hydration, table salt (sodium chloride) is sufficient to maximize performance.

In more extreme cases (hotter, more humid, very long-duration and high-effort) you may need to make a one-time purchase of sodium citrate (Amazon) to meet high sodium needs while allowing maximum hydration with reduced osmolarity.

Cost for table salt = less than $0.01 per 2000 mg sodium (sufficient for most folks 2-3-hr training, ~1 tsp)
Cost for sodium citrate = $0.10 per 2000mg sodium serving (~1.75 tsp).
Cheapest Gatorade Endurance Powder = $2.75 per 2000mg sodium.

Skip gels & chews altogether.

Use caffeine pill(s). Get your carbs from sugar and drink mixes, your sodium from salt in beverages, and your caffeine from broken-in-half caffeine pills, or if purchasing gelatin capsules, cut in half with scissors and empty the powder into your drink mix. Gels are incredibly expensive on a dollars per carb, a dollars per caffeine, and a dollars per sodium scale.

Caffeine pills = $0.02 - $0.10 per 100mg caffeine.
Gels = $0.75 - $3.00 per 100mg caffeine.

Cheapest possible well-fueled 3-hr endurance session:
300g carbs. 3000mg sodium. 200mg caffeine.

Use one large scoop regular gatorade, rest of carbs from sugar (~1.2 cups), 1/2 tsp each of table salt and sodium citrate, one caffeine pill. Cost = ~$0.67

"Standard" lower-cost approach using Gatorade Endurance + Gatorade mixed (same 3-hr session): Mix 50-50 Gatorade & Gatorade Endurance, Salt / Sodium Citrate, Gels for Caffeine. Cost = ~$4.75-6.50

If you're using more expensive endurance drink mixes, you can probably double that cost.

Conservative annual savings for a person training 8 hrs per week:

$530!

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To calculate your daily carb needs with precision and ease, as an endurance athlete, check out the RP Endurance Macro Calculator (EMC)
To learn more about just how to decide how much carbs, electrolyte, and fluid to consume during your training, check out The RP Diet for Endurancereplete with comprehensive tables and figures to make your intra-workout nutrition perfectly tailored to your needs.