Sports Drinks

Sports drinks are beverages designed specifically for the rapid supply of fluid, carbohydrates, and electrolytes before, during or after exercise.

Sports drinks are designed to promote the availability of energy and to prevent or treat mild dehydration that may occur as a result of sustained strenuous exercise.

Sports Drinks has a dedicated consumer site. Head over to the Sports Drinks Microsite


Electrolyte drinks are regulated by the Food Standards Code. Beverages which are marketed as electrolyte drinks in Australia must meet the compositional standards set out in the Code such as maximum and minimum levels of carbohydrates, and they must also comply with the labelling requirements.

Carbohydrates provide fuel for muscles and the brain, as well as contribute to the flavour of a sports drink. By law under Standard 2.6.2 of the Food Standards Code, ‘electrolyte drink’ means a drink formulated and represented as suitable for the rapid replacement of fluid, carbohydrates, electrolytes and minerals; ‘electrolyte drink base’ means a solid or liquid which, when made up, makes an electrolyte drink; and ‘formulated beverage’ means a non-carbonated, ready-to-drink, flavoured beverage.

Although manufacturers may choose the amounts of each ingredient, within the range permitted in the Food Standards Code, a number of bottlers have formulated their products to provide a beverage that is as close to normal body fluids as possible, these are called isotonic drinks.

Isotonic drinks contain the essential electrolytes in the same concentration as in the body. Under the Food Standards Code, a claim that an electrolyte drink is isotonic may only be made if the electrolyte drink has an average osmolality of 250-340 mOsm/L.

It should be noted that ‘sports waters’, ‘fitness waters’ and ‘vitamin waters’ do not fall under the category of a ‘sports drink’ (electrolyte drink) and are regulated under a different standard in the Food Standards Code. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is currently reviewing the composition and labelling of electrolyte drinks. Further information can be found here.


The ABCL has compiled a range of materials on sports drinks for industry and consumers.

To access these, please click on the below:

Industry sports drinks factsheet

Industry sports drinks brochure

Consumer sports drinks factsheet

  • To avoid becoming dehydrated during exercise, you need to drink water and electrolytes
  • Sugar helps you absorb the electrolytes through the small intestine
  • You can lose up to 2 litres of sweat an hour while exercising

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