8 New Next-Level Sports Drinks

Remember the days when it felt like enough to guzzle water before a workout? Ah, nostalgia! Today’s evolving understanding of sports nutrition has ushered in a whole new generation of pre- and post-workout beverages. The following innovative sports drinks contain specialized formulas that promote optimum hydration, speed muscle recovery, and improve performance.

FRS Healthy Energy Drink: Before exercise Want to put some spring in your step, but get the jitters from coffee? Try FRS. Instead of relying on caffeine, these drinks include the antioxidant quercetin for a natural pick-me-up. Quercetin, found primarily in red- and blue-skinned fruits, has been linked to increased endurance and sustained energy by a number of studies. Each bottle contains 40 apples' worth of quercetin (seriously), as well as heaping doses of energy-boosting B vitamins.

Activate Water Drink: Before or after a workout Certain vitamins lose their potency sitting in water, which is why Activate keeps nutrients stored in its cap. Before drinking, you twist the bottle’s top to release the vitamins into the water and shake. You’ll get a solid amount of vitamins A, B, C, and E, and certain beverages offer additional perks. For example, “Rebound” (which is passionfruit-flavored) features electrolyte-rich coconut extract (which works for hangovers as well as for workout recovery). Another good bet: “Charged,” which uses yerba mate extract (a supplement derived from a South American tea) and natural caffeine to deliver an energy boost.

GENERATION UCAN Sports Drink Drink: Before exercise UCAN’s fans span elite distance runners (including Olympian Meb Keflezghi) to the New England Patriots. The secret? SuperStarch—an natural, slow-releasing complex carbohydrate formulated to stabilize blood sugar. While sugar causes an energy spike followed by a crash, SuperStarch doesn’t raise insulin levels, which means you’ve got steady energy for your brain and body. For best results, mix a packet with water and sip a half-hour before working out.

Infinit Nutrition Drink: Before, during, or after exercise As with most things in life, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to fueling for a workout. Enter Infinit Nutrition. The endurance-athlete-helmed company allows you to customize a sport cocktail based on your individual needs. Plagued with muscle cramps? Can’t stomach strong flavors? Trying to lose a few pounds? An online interview takes these factors—and many others—into consideration before designing you a blend with the correct balance of electrolytes, protein, carbs, caffeine, and calories to meet your individualized needs. If you’re not into the create-your-own aspect, Infinit also has a new retail line that offers specialized formulas for speed, endurance, recovery, and more.

EAS Myoplex Drink: After exercise Never choke down another chalky, do-it-yourself protein drink again: These ready-to-drink shakes from EAS go down easy and possess a secret weapon of sorts. The trademarked Revigor compound is a source of the amino acid HMB, which fortifies muscle cells and accelerates protein synthesis (the process that builds muscle). Plus the drink’s got the ideal 2:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, which helps rapidly replenish fuel to the muscles after exercise.

Nuun Active Hydration Drink: Before, during, or after exercise There’s more to hydration than just swigging water. The rate at which your body absorbs fluids depends in part on the concentration of dissolved salts and sugar in a drink—too little sodium may prevent your body from absorbing the fluids quickly, and too much sugar in your stomach could also trigger a delay. So Nuun’s formula has been optimized to help your bloodstream absorb water and electrolytes efficiently. Each Nuun tablet, which should be mixed with 16 ounces of water, contains an optimal 700 milligrams of sodium as well as other electrolytes. Additionally, unlike most sports beverages, Nuun has virtually zero carbohydrates and sugars, another measure to help speed water and electrolyte absorption.

Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix Drink: Before exercise Dismayed by the artificial-ingredient-laden fitness products on the market, sport scientist and cycling coach Allen Lim began whipping up drinks made from real foods for his athletes. Now, his all-natural concoctions are available to the masses. Skratch Labs mixes (which should be combined with 8 ounces of water) boast an easy-on-the-stomach formula, a balance of electrolytes, and ingredients you can actually pronounce, including cane sugar and real fruit.

Spartos Protein Water Drink: After exercise When you gulp down Spartos, you’ll never guess you’re chugging more than a cup of milk’s worth of protein. The drink’s Gatorade-esque consistency masks 10 grams of whey protein isolate, which helps build and repair muscle tissue. The presence of all four major electrolytes (calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium) work together to prevent muscle cramps and 15 ounces of pure water keep you hydrated.