So I'm fairly new to cycling and this has always kind of baffled me. I've tried reading many articles on nutrition but still can't seem to understand everything.
My question is, how do you know you've found the drink that works for you? So far, I've only tried a couple of things and have now stuck with filling my bottles with diluted Gatorade. I tried Hammer fizz but didn't like the way it mixed into the water. Used packets of GU Roctane but felt it had way too many calories for my 2 hour rides. I don't get cramped while riding, I feel hydrated, my stomach doesn't complain, I don't feel excessively tired when I'm not suppose to, and I like the taste of the low calorie one diluted with water.
Is there anything else you should expect from a drink?
November, Trek OCLV, Bianchi Castro Valley commuter
I need to like drinking it, it needs to stay down, and on the really long rides where cramping has been a problem, no cramps. Very much a matter of personal taste and body chemistry. Gatorade (popular at all the local supported centuries) does nothing for me (at best). Accelerade is definitely an acquired taste that I will never acquire. A coach friend recommended EFS, which worked well for me late last season. This past summer, I discovered Skratch Labs products, which just seem to work and have become my favorite. I also seem to tolerate Cytomax well. I bring zip lok bags with mix to refil with water during longer rides. Outliers - one really hot ride, I refilled with Poweraide at a convenience store - chugging the whole bottle.
It depends on what one is doing: how hard, how long. For instance, the winner of last year's Furnace Creek 508, over a period of 24 hours drank 19 bottles of Ensure, plus ate and drank a bunch of other stuff, including obviously water. For a two hour ride, it's usually not necessary to use anything except water, if that. I ride with a fellow who drinks 1/2 bottle of plain water on a hard 60 mile ride, while I'll go through 750 cal. of gump in one bottle, plus another couple bottles of plain water. Touring, plain water works fine for me. IOW YMMV.
But to answer your title question: #1, you want to finish the ride without bonking. Beyond that, don't expect too much.