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Training & Nutrition Learn how to develop a training schedule that's good for you. What should you eat and drink on your ride? Learn everything you need to know about training and nutrition here.

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Old 03-21-07, 10:48 AM   #1
rockrates
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recommended electrolyte tabs?

Hi everyone,

I'm not a regular in this section of the forums, but I had a quick question, and my search didn't yield any results (at least that I found). I've had problems with cramping calves during long rides and races, despite good stretching and hydration (usually one bottle of water and one of 50-50 gatorade/water). A friend suggested that I give electrolyte tabs a try. Does anyone have any advice on which brands I should check out, and where I might find them?

Thanks!
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Old 03-21-07, 10:54 AM   #2
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Performance and Nashbar or your LBS should have some. Take electrolyte tablets with plenty of water and don't overdo it or the sodium may upset your stomach.
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Old 03-21-07, 10:58 AM   #3
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You don't say how long the time is. 2 bottles should keep you reasonably hydrated for 2 hours. If you are cramping inside of 2 hours, I'd say more training, especially lots more miles, base miles, fast miles, weights after long miles, miles 6 days/week, etc. Try sets of 30 one-legged calf raises, with your toe on a chair or block. Do them to failure, twice a week, after riding.

OTOH, if these are long rides, you're going to need a lot more water, 25 oz. an hour for well-trained riders. Then electrolytes might be an issue. I like Endurolytes from e-caps.com. I always take a calcium-magnesium pill after a ride to prevent cramping after. You could try taking one in the morning before your ride, too. 500 calcium citrate, 250 magnesium.
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Old 03-21-07, 12:35 PM   #4
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No offense meant to CFboy, but *never* weight train after riding. True weight training (as in with weights) should never be done on the same day as endurance cardio unless you want your muscle to shrink up considerably - it's called catabolism. At a bare minimum, weight training should be done first always and you should have 8 hours rest before endurance cardio.

However, if you're going to try and build up calf strength, there won't be much of a problem doing just weighted calf raises (sitting and standing) in the morning and then your endurance cardio later on, or vice versa - the calves are just about the only muscle that can be overworked and still keep it's strength.

I often find that many riders have surprisingly weak gastrocnemius muscles and need extra work there - fallen victim to it myself. Bodyweight exercises such as Cfboy suggests are great on off/rest days, or as part of a strength training workout session.
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Old 03-21-07, 01:04 PM   #5
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thanks for the responses everyone, I think I'll focus on strengthening the calves before I do anything else. Much obliged!
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Old 03-21-07, 04:41 PM   #6
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NUUN tablets - no sugar - just electrolytes with mild flavor. 1 per bottle. I tape the small plastic cannister to one water bottle (contains 12 tablets) for long rides.
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Old 03-21-07, 07:27 PM   #7
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http://www.eletewater.com/ Most convenient for me.
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Old 03-22-07, 04:17 PM   #8
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i use the endurolytes also. good stuff there.
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Old 03-22-07, 04:25 PM   #9
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oh man, I did those calf raises yesterday after a pretty intense ride. Boy can I feel it today! oof
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Old 03-23-07, 11:22 PM   #10
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I use X20......hydration, electrolytes and alklinity
www.wateroflife.net.au
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Old 07-19-07, 08:03 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by merlinman View Post
NUUN tablets - no sugar - just electrolytes with mild flavor. 1 per bottle. I tape the small plastic cannister to one water bottle (contains 12 tablets) for long rides.
I have been thinking about getting these but where do you get your carbs from while cycling long rides (50+ miles)
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Old 07-19-07, 08:22 PM   #12
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I add 1/4 cup or so of dextrose (250 cals per 1/4 cup). I like dextrose because it diggests easily, isn't as sweet as sugar and I avoid high fructose corn syrup. So for a 50 miler it's pretty simple - 1 water bottle with NUUN tablet, 1 water bottle with NUUN tablet and dextrose> if I think it will take longer than 2 1/2 hours due to hills I'll take along a powertype bar or if I know there is a water stop I will pack a small ziplock with NUUN tablet and more dextrose. OR - instead of my 23 oz water bottles I'll bring out the big 30 oz one's and adjust dosages accordingly (more NUUN tabs, more dextrose). Simple and it works for me.
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Old 07-19-07, 10:13 PM   #13
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I use Essential Electrolytes by NutriBiotic. I got them at a local health food store. These things: http://www.nutribiotic.com/electrolytes.htm

They've got Vitamin C, Calcium, Magnesium, Postassium, Sodium, Chloride, Zinc, and Chromium
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Old 07-19-07, 10:29 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rockrates View Post
Hi everyone,

I'm not a regular in this section of the forums, but I had a quick question, and my search didn't yield any results (at least that I found). I've had problems with cramping calves during long rides and races, despite good stretching and hydration (usually one bottle of water and one of 50-50 gatorade/water). A friend suggested that I give electrolyte tabs a try. Does anyone have any advice on which brands I should check out, and where I might find them?

Thanks!
A few thoughts:

You don't say how long your rides are, but if you're in the long range (say, more than 3 hours), it could easily be a lack of salt. This gets progressively more important as times go up.

Other electrolytes are much less important because you have large amounts of potassium stored in your body, but very small stores of sodium. The general advice is somewhere around 500-700mg of sodium per liter (roughly per hour).

Endurolytes aren't worth the money. The have a pitiful 40mg of sodium per tablet.

Also, I'd suggest trying a real hydration drink. 50% gatorade is pretty low on calories, and some of it uses fructose, which can cause GI upset.
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Old 07-20-07, 10:43 AM   #15
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Pickles and bananas (not at the same time, yechh).
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Old 07-20-07, 10:52 AM   #16
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I use Essential Electrolytes by NutriBiotic. I got them at a local health food store.
When/how often?
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Old 07-25-07, 07:32 AM   #17
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There are several brands of electrolyte tabs/drinks/mixes. The trouble is everyone is different with regard to diet, metabolism, workout intensity, how much you sweat, local temp/humidity, etc. You're just going to have to try some stuff and see what works for you under different conditions. Go to your favorite supplement store, see what they have in your price range and try it out.

The Endurolytes are very expensive and the Essential Electrolytes are a fraction of the cost if you want pills. Lately, I've been using Emergen-C packets in my water bottles. It has a full complement of electorlytes and vitamins. The same company also sells just electrolyte packs as well. But there are lots of other brands of alternatives. One of the favorites for marathoners is the Gookinaid Hydralyte. They sell it at REI. It is a better mix optimized for rehydration performance and not taste like Gatorade. I've tried it and it does work well. However, I like to manage my sugar separately from my water. I've had too many instances where even well diluted sugar drinks taste too sweet under certain conditions. It's great if you're dehydrated but not necessarily the best while actively riding.

As with anything nutrition related, YMMV.
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Old 07-25-07, 07:38 AM   #18
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What the heck - got a problem - take a pill....... I like the other comments too, the one mentioning catabolism is a real hoot....

NO one knows why this guy has calf cramps. However, as we all know, we seldom cramp if we are completely rested, completely hydrated and not performing repeated muscle movements.

Off hand, I'd say his cramps are caused by cycling until his calf muscles get tired. Maybe drinking salt water will help. If you don't like salt water, then eat salt pills, but just remember, none of that salt or salt-water fixes tired-out poorly trained calf muscles.......
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Old 07-25-07, 09:40 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigskymacadam View Post
i use the endurolytes also. good stuff there.
I've had good luck with Endurolytes, but...

Quote:
Originally Posted by merlinman View Post
NUUN tablets - no sugar - just electrolytes with mild flavor. 1 per bottle. I tape the small plastic cannister to one water bottle (contains 12 tablets) for long rides.
...NUUN tablets are on my short list of things to try Real Soon Now.
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Old 07-27-07, 07:22 PM   #20
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another vote for nuun, this stuff is great. Has worked great for me on long rides.
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Old 07-30-07, 12:01 AM   #21
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either Endurolytes (powder or capsules) or CamelBak Elixer tables, both work great...

i've heard good things about nuun, but i've never tried them myself...
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Old 07-30-07, 12:06 AM   #22
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When/how often?
When and how often do I use them?

Before I head out for a LONG hot ride, I take one pill. Then I'll use one more every 3 hours or so till the end of the ride. For shorter rides and cooler rides, I don't use them at all.
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Old 07-30-07, 12:12 AM   #23
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I was actually going to bump this thread up with a comment ... although I do use the pills I mentioned above on particularly long, hot rides, I use something else in addition to them.

I drink 100% pure orange juice, and eat beef jerky.

100% pure orange juice has a lot of potassium in it (and Vitamin C, etc.) so it provides one of the main electrolytes. It also provides calories and helps to replenish your liquid.

Beef jerky provides sodium ... and also calories and protein - both very important for long distance riding. I'll also use things like potato chips or corn chips for the sodium.

I did a century yesterday in 30+ temps and blazing sunshine. I forgot to take my electrolyte pills, so I made a point of drinking orange juice at every place I stopped, and eating something salty. I was fine all the way through the ride.
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