During summer, I go through electrolyte drinks at an unbelievable rate – I once joked that nobody’s gone through white powdery substances so fast since Van Halen toured with The Scorpions. But seriously, electrolyte drinks let me exercise and not feel miserable the rest of the day. I had to put some thought into electrolyte drinks when my old standby added Stevia to it’s formula.Â I thought I’d share what I’ve found out lately for anyone who could use some help to stay hydrated during summer exercise.
First of all, what is an electrolyte drink? It’s a drink that replenishes what you sweat out. As far as I can tell, the most important of that "stuff" are sodium and potassium (Note: I am not a scientist or physician – just a guy who has exercised in heat for a long-ass time). Too little of either, and you’re the mayor of Dehydration City and the emperor of Cramp Town. There are many other electrolyte compounds, but salt and potassium seem most important.
Since I gave Cytomax the boot, I’ve tried a few other electrolyte drink mixes and some electrolyte tablets. Here’s what I’ve found out:
Carborocket 333 Half Evil Endurance Fuel
This is one of the hardest-hitting electrolyte drinks I’ve ever seen. Mixed at full-strength, Half Evil packs a big calorie punch along with a big dose of electrolytes. At 333 calories per serving, you might not need bars or gels on long rides. But man, this stuff tastes strong even diluting to half the recommended level. I halved the recipe for the lemonade flavor -- and it was tasty! I also felt pretty solid after my ride. Impressive considering I used it on some of the sunniest, hottest days of 2013 so far. And on some demanding trails.
CarboRocket takes pride in using natural ingredients for its electrolyte drinks. Have a look at its FAQ page for some other interesting info.
Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix
Skratch Labs is a new-to-many name. I tried a few single-serving containers and liked it well enough to buy a bag. Like CarboRocket, Skratch Labs favors natural ingredients. They’re loud about the fact that users can pronounce all the ingredients (an impressive feat considering tri-geeks use it!). I got a few laughs out of the Skratch Labs video about its natural ingredients.
Of all the electrolyte drinks I’ve tried, Skratch Labs is by far the lightest tasting. Even with two full scoops in a 24-ounce bike bottle, the flavor is subtle. I usually include half a Nuun tablet to boost the flavor. I’ve been very happy with the way it works. I’ve finished many of my recent night rides stronger than I started.
Nuun Active Hydration electrolyte tablets
I don’t like taking in calories for exercise less than an hour long. But in this heat, I still want to bring in some electrolytes even if I’m just doing a 60-minute run or a hot yoga class.
Nuun is my favorite way to make electrolyte drinks without many calories. I usually dissolve a tablet and a half into a 24-ounce bike bottle, and I’m ready to go. I prefer the Kona Kola flavor. It’s just plain tasty.
After exercising I recommend you add coconut water to your electrolyte drinks arsenal;. Apparently, the electrolyte composition of coconut water is similar to the human body. It also has about 70 calories per serving, so it helps top off your tank after exercise. I also like the taste – for some extra fun, ask your favorite barista to make an iced americano with coconut water instead of regular water. You’ll love it, I promise (and it’s way better than the boxed kind).
One Last Tip
Mix your electrolyte drinks about 12 hours in advance, when possible. Pitch them in the freezer to keep them from turning into hot electrolyte tea.