Electrolytes consist of sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, and bicarbonate. Workouts lasting less than 1 hour typically only need to re-hydrate with water but for workouts >1 hour, require liquids with a combination of carbohydrates and electrolytes. Electrolytes are needed because they are, along with water, are lost through sweat which is the bodies primary way of preventing excessive rises in body temperature aka hyperthermia, especially in the heat. Performance is impaired when approximately 2% of body weight is dehydrated.
Many electrolyte products are out there in market. There is no absolute best one, but some may be better than others. This may also depend on the individual and their response to them. Scratch labs sells hydration mixes to be made into a sports drink. Then there are the traditional sports drinks such as Gatorade and PowerAde. What makes these drinks different? Let’s take a look…
|Calories||Carbs (g)||Sodium (mg)||Potassium (mg)||Other|
Hydration Mix 1 scoop
|Calcium & magnesium|
1 bottle (591mL)
|150||38||250||65||Citric acid & gum|
1 bottle (360mL)
|80||21||150||35||High fructose corn syrup, & B-vitamins|
|The Right Stuff
Chloride & Citrate
PowerAde and Gatorade contain a lot of added sugars with artificial colors as well. The problem is that too much added carbs decreases the amount of water that can be absorbed (Jeukendrup & Gleeson, 2004). Only small amounts of glucose and sodium are needed so that water absorption rate increases. The right stuff is primarily electrolyte containing with no energy (calories) and carbs however, it can be mixed with a carb containing drink thus increasing carbs and/or electrolytes which may slow absorption of water. Scratch labs hydration mix is similar to PowerAde as far as electrolyte content. Scratch labs hydration mix can also be mixed with a carb liquid but the mix alone may just be sufficient. Overall, Scratch labs seems like it has a good mix to be used during and after exercise lasting more than 1 hour.
Jeukendrup, Asker & Gleeson, Michael. Sports Nutrition. An Introduction to Energy Production and Performance. 2004.
Gropper, Sareen S., Smith, L. Jack., & Carr, Timothy P. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. Seventh edition. 2016.
By Jesse Rodriguez, RD, CSCS