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    Electrolytes: How much, which ones?

    Sodium, found adequately in the American diet. But we need more on hot days and longer rides...how much more? What kinds of numbers should I be looking at? Potassium is a key electrolyte for riding, also...how much should I be looking at intaking? Is there a range? Some sports drinks have like 50 mg (~2% DV) and some bars have 3-400, which says it's around 10-12% of your daily value...huge difference. Why is there such a seemingly insignificant amount in sports products? What other electrolytes should I be concerned about taking on longer rides? Calcium, magnesium, vitamin C? How long of a ride should I start even taking electrolytes? (Surely I don't need them during an hour long ride). Final conundrum, can anybody explain to me why raisins are loaded with potassium but grape juice shows none? ::Jerry Seinfeld voice::...whaaaaaaat's the deeeaaal?

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    www.ocrebels.com Rick@OCRR's Avatar
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    Wow, there are a lot of questions in that post! I just take Hammer E-Caps and don't read all the fine print. Not sure what's in them, but they sure work for me. I take two at every checkpoint on a double century; no cramps for me!

    Rick / OCRR

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    It depends a lot on how long you are riding, and your own personal physiology. Very generally speaking, if you are doing rides of 3 hours or less and you eat a good diet, you are probably fine without much supplementation.

    If you go on longer rides, you may need some supplementation. If you ride in the hot, sodium can be pretty important for some people - without it, you can go hyponatremic, which can be life-threatening. Generally not an issue for most people until you get above the century distance and 6ish hour rides.
    Eric

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    not actually Nickatina andre nickatina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericgu View Post
    If you ride in the hot, sodium can be pretty important for some people - without it, you can go hyponatremic, which can be life-threatening.
    This.

    I start getting hypnoatremia symptoms in the hot like no one's business. Usually a general feeling of apathy/disassociation, clammy/cold hands, and a tingling sensation in my limbs. Sodium is important.

    What has worked for me so far:
    Below 85 degrees - 1/4tsp. salt in my water, banana/avocados for potassium.
    90+ hot weather - Nuun tablets in the water, banana as daily diet, plenty of water throughout the day ideally. Limit the coffee and other diuretics and make sure to replace the liquid lost with water.

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Read everything in the Endurance Library - link is on this page:
    http://www.hammernutrition.com/za/HNT?PAGE=KNOWLEDGE

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    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    I like Hammer products. If its hot like up the Glendora Mountain Road to Baldy, I would certainly need their Sustained Energy or Perpetum product.

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    Member HealthJunkie's Avatar
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    Consuming sodium during exercise has not been shown to have any positive effect on the body. It is nothing more than clever advertising by companies like Gatorade and Hammer.

    http://www.sportsscientists.com/2007...olytes_27.html
    '07 Gary Fisher Marlin --- Future bike > GF HiFi Pro 29er

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HealthJunkie View Post
    Consuming sodium during exercise has not been shown to have any positive effect on the body. It is nothing more than clever advertising by companies like Gatorade and Hammer.

    http://www.sportsscientists.com/2007...olytes_27.html
    This is a good study, quoted by Hammer in support of their Endurolyte product. The advantage of capsules is that you can increase or decrease the quantity of electrolyte without reference to the quantity of water ingested. But if you think consuming sodium or any other electrolyte during exercise has no positive effect, you've never ridden even a "short" brevet like a 400k. We'll be waiting for your ride report. The problem with this study which makes it rather silly for cyclists is that it's only for a 2-hour period. Heck, you don't even need to drink water on a 2-hour ride, much less take electrolytes.

    Where do you suppose that serum sodium graph is headed? If you can't turn that around, you are, how do we say it, dead?

    I believe the study is also correct in assuming ad libitum drinking is the way to go. And notice the comments about drinking beer as a recovery beverage. Right on.

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    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    The amount of salt you need depends on your physiology, the temperature and how long you are riding. You will need to experiment to find out what you need. It may be nothing. I don't think that potassium, calcium or vitamin C are an issue for anyone.


    I need to start supplementing salt for rides over four hours if it's really hot (like 100 or more), and rides over five hours if it's 80 or warmer. I use endurolytes, and if the ride is long or hot or both, salt tablets. Endurolytes don't have enough salt for me for long hot rides.

    At the highest I aim for about 350 mg/hr of sodium.. that's including what's in the sports drink and food. I have seen recommendations for 1000mg/hr but that is based on replenishing what is lost in sweat (which is itself highly variable across individuals). But most people's digestive system can't handle that much.

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    Member HealthJunkie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    This is a good study, quoted by Hammer in support of their Endurolyte product. The advantage of capsules is that you can increase or decrease the quantity of electrolyte without reference to the quantity of water ingested. But if you think consuming sodium or any other electrolyte during exercise has no positive effect, you've never ridden even a "short" brevet like a 400k. We'll be waiting for your ride report. The problem with this study which makes it rather silly for cyclists is that it's only for a 2-hour period. Heck, you don't even need to drink water on a 2-hour ride, much less take electrolytes.

    Where do you suppose that serum sodium graph is headed? If you can't turn that around, you are, how do we say it, dead?

    I believe the study is also correct in assuming ad libitum drinking is the way to go. And notice the comments about drinking beer as a recovery beverage. Right on.
    Apparently you took offense to me having a difference of opinion. You are entitled to yours, as I am to my own. You can continue to waste your money. And you are right, I have never ridden 250 miles straight, I wonder how many people do on the average weekend?
    '07 Gary Fisher Marlin --- Future bike > GF HiFi Pro 29er

  11. #11
    Member HealthJunkie's Avatar
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    Hammer Nutrition

    For instance, by the time you feel thirsty, you could have a 2% body-weight water loss, already into the impairment zone.
    Authors from Science of Sport blog, both PHDs

    Since then a number of studies have been performed at races and other endurance events, and the one main finding of all of these studies is that athletes replace only between 40-60% of their weight losses, and complete the race 2-5% "dehydrated."

    Despite this fact, from real athletes competing in real events, many scientific articles and lay magazines continue to emphasize that "dehydration" of this magnitude (2-5% of the pre-race weight) is detrimental to health and or performance. This is the basis for the many advertisements proclaiming the importance of drinking to runners, as we discussed in Post I of this series.

    The evidence from all the field studies, however, shows rather that changes in body weight of this magnitude are not associated with collapse and high core temperatures. One reason for this is likely because, as we stated in a comment to another post, the body weight is not the regulated variable, and so even if you lose some weight the body is fine, and is in fact responding normally to that exercise. We will examine that concept in the next post in this series.

    http://www.sportsscientists.com/2007...ercise_21.html
    To the original poster, read the studies and decide for yourself. What do you expect Hammer Nutrition and the people from the Gatorade Institute to say? I simply decide to believe in doctors that have done the research themselves and can personally attest to the results.
    Last edited by HealthJunkie; 07-28-09 at 07:55 PM.
    '07 Gary Fisher Marlin --- Future bike > GF HiFi Pro 29er

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by HealthJunkie View Post
    Consuming sodium during exercise has not been shown to have any positive effect on the body. It is nothing more than clever advertising by companies like Gatorade and Hammer.

    http://www.sportsscientists.com/2007...olytes_27.html
    It's pretty simple.

    When you exercise, you lose sodium through sweat, and you take in sodium when you eat/drink.

    How much you lose when you sweat depends on your personal genetics, how hot it is, and how much training you do in the heat.

    How much you take in depends on what you eat and drink.

    If the amount you are taking in is less than what you are losing, you have a deficit, which eats into the ready reserves that you have (you have a lot of sodium in your body, but most of it is bound up in bone and muscle). As you use up your reserves, your serum sodium (ie sodium in your blood drops).

    There's a great overview here:

    http://advancedinstruments.silversca...dration07B.pdf
    Eric

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    How can there be any debate that you sweat out sodium when you are exercising, you only have a finite amount in your body, and that if you want to continue to ride during a long (hot) day that you need to try to replace it? Hammer Endurolytes work well and they have a balanced amount of electrolytes, not just Sodium. I have used them for some time with positive results.
    Try some Hammer Gel, HEED, and Recoverite via the 15% Hammer Nutrition Discount! - You won't be disappointed!

  14. #14
    www.ocrebels.com Rick@OCRR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slickjolly View Post
    How can there be any debate that you sweat out sodium when you are exercising, you only have a finite amount in your body, and that if you want to continue to ride during a long (hot) day that you need to try to replace it? Hammer Endurolytes work well and they have a balanced amount of electrolytes, not just Sodium. I have used them for some time with positive results.
    I totally agree! The problem is neither that difficult to understand, nor that difficult to solve. Hammer must have done their research properly, because I've had very positive results when using their products.

    And while the above post is correct in that everyone has slightly different needs/requirements along these lines, sodium requirements (at some level) are basically the same for all humans. Yes, your sodium (and other mineral) needs/requirements may vary . . . but big picture, it is a need/requirement for everyone (well, everyone in the endurance sport context).

    I gave Lauretta a Hammer E-Cap to try last Sunday . . . have to ask if it worked for her!

    Rick / OCRR

  15. #15
    Senior Member LandKurt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HealthJunkie View Post
    Consuming sodium during exercise has not been shown to have any positive effect on the body. It is nothing more than clever advertising by companies like Gatorade and Hammer.

    http://www.sportsscientists.com/2007...olytes_27.html
    What I get from that link is that Gatorade doesn't do enough to prevent sodium loss. Which doesn't surprise me as the reference I've seen says that a liter of sweat typically contains 900 mg of sodium. Trying to replace that water loss with a liter of Gatorade is going to get you a lot less sodium. A study indicating that one specific product doesn't do enough to combat sodium loss does not equal sodium replacement being useless. I see it as stressing low sodium as a real problem that isn't solved simply by drinking Gatorade.
    The upside of hills is the downside

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    Gabe Mirkin is an interesting and often controversial doctor. He used to have a syndicated radio show and writes a good bit on exercise. He claims water and salted peanuts are all most people needs.

    Another benefit of sodium is it helps to retain fluids as well to keep you from getting dehyrated.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  17. #17
    Member HealthJunkie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LandKurt View Post
    What I get from that link is that Gatorade doesn't do enough to prevent sodium loss. Which doesn't surprise me as the reference I've seen says that a liter of sweat typically contains 900 mg of sodium. Trying to replace that water loss with a liter of Gatorade is going to get you a lot less sodium. A study indicating that one specific product doesn't do enough to combat sodium loss does not equal sodium replacement being useless. I see it as stressing low sodium as a real problem that isn't solved simply by drinking Gatorade.
    The authors of the blog or researchers they worked with completed a study that gave people running a marathon either: water, gatorade, or half mix of water and gatorade. They found no difference in performance between the three groups. If I remember right, those who drank gatorade had rather high levels of sodium.
    '07 Gary Fisher Marlin --- Future bike > GF HiFi Pro 29er

  18. #18
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HealthJunkie View Post
    Apparently you took offense to me having a difference of opinion. You are entitled to yours, as I am to my own. You can continue to waste your money. And you are right, I have never ridden 250 miles straight, I wonder how many people do on the average weekend?
    Yes, I did take offence, but not at you personally. I have a personal stake in giving advice on these forums that people can rely on. If I said something that could harm anyone, I would never forgive myself. I have to extend this to countering what I perceive to be bad or dangerous advice, which if followed, could lead to a bad ride at the low end, and serious health effects at the high end. You can believe me about the serious health effects, because I have experienced them and know their causes, symptoms, and cures. So no, I'm not wasting my money. I and other experienced posters on this forum are simply trying to improve and empower the rides of others. I'm sorry if your feelings were hurt. I could have put that better. BTW, a 120 capsule bottle of Endurolytes is $20. I go through about 1/yr.

    I encourage you to try riding multiple mountain passes in 90-100 heat before advising on fueling. Or even if you never want to advise anyone, just on general principles. It's a quite enlightening and strengthening experience, even enjoyable in retrospect. 800 riders in the state of Washington will be doing that tomorrow, on Thursday, as they participate in RAMROD: 160 miles and 10,000' of climbing during a record heat wave. May their med tent be sparsely populated, and may the organizers have purchased sufficient saline. And let us all say Amen.
    Last edited by Carbonfiberboy; 07-29-09 at 09:35 AM.

  19. #19
    Member HealthJunkie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    Yes, I did take offence, but not at you personally. I have a personal stake in giving advice on these forums that people can rely on. If I said something that could harm anyone, I would never forgive myself. I have to extend this to countering what I perceive to be bad or dangerous advice, which if followed, could lead to a bad ride at the low end, and serious health effects at the high end. You can believe me about the serious health effects, because I have experienced them and know their causes, symptoms, and cures. So no, I'm not wasting my money. I and other experienced posters on this forum are simply trying to improve and empower the rides of others. I'm sorry if your feelings were hurt. I could have put that better. BTW, a 120 capsule bottle of Endurolytes is $20. I go through about 1/yr.
    I guess we can agree to disagree. I have in fact ridden in the rocky moutains of Colorado, including hiking up 14ers.

    I think we can both agree that someone does not need to take sodium when only riding, say 3 hours. Most of my rides only last that long. How many riders took sodium tablets/supplements with sodium during the stages of the Tour de France?
    '07 Gary Fisher Marlin --- Future bike > GF HiFi Pro 29er

  20. #20
    not actually Nickatina andre nickatina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by healthjunkie View Post
    apparently i can't differentiate between the subjective and the objective, and think we're just arguing over differing opinions.
    ftfy

  21. #21
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HealthJunkie View Post
    I guess we can agree to disagree. I have in fact ridden in the rocky moutains of Colorado, including hiking up 14ers.

    I think we can both agree that someone does not need to take sodium when only riding, say 3 hours. Most of my rides only last that long. How many riders took sodium tablets/supplements with sodium during the stages of the Tour de France?
    Yes, agreed. TdF teams seem to make their riders' fueling a closely guarded secret, and for good reason. Reports indicate that about every other bottle given to a rider will be loaded with electrolytes, but it's hard to discover what and how much. I found this article:
    http://www.golfsa.com/static/tdf/col...3502&c=insider
    which gives a brand name and says that the riders pour the plain bottles on their heads and drink the loaded bottles. I wonder how they know which is which? But that accounts for reports of riders going through 4 bottles/hr., which would be 80 oz. using Tour bottles, an impossible amount to drink. But it does seem that all TdF riders consume electrolytes.

    And this is very interesting:
    http://www.jacn.org/cgi/content/full/21/6/553
    especially for the fluid/sodium ratios of finishers. However, many LD riders will not be able to manage the quantities of fluid and CHO consumed by these LD runners. They were on course for about the same time as a fast randonneur on a 600k, who in my experience are riding plenty, plenty hard! I think cyclists have a huge advantage in energy output over runners because we aren't pounding our bodies.

  22. #22
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    Well, there are obviously a polarized opinion on this and as near as I can tell, both sides are right, to a point.

    If you are going to go out and do a 2 hour ride, it is unlikely that you will need to replenish electrolytes during the ride.

    On the other hand, I have personally seen one death and no telling how many heat injuries from not replacing them, while consuming lots of water. The electrolytes are flushed out, in urine and sweat during the course of a day, and if they are not replaced at some point, then death can quite easily be the result. Can they be replaced with a normal diet, maybe, maybe not. It depends solely on the activity level and environment.

    I can tell you that the Army MRE's are so loaded with sodium that they would give a cardiologist a nervous breakdown. That is for a reason. You have absolutely no idea how much you loose, till you see uniforms that are absolutely crusted with salt. I can absolutely guarantee that a "normal diet" will not replace those. The same can be said of any long term endurance event, whether it is recreational, work, or any number of other causes.

    While in much of my training, supplements were not allowed, but a salt package mixed into your water is pretty much the same thing.

    I'll err on the side of caution, and continue to supplement electrolytes when I know I will be out in the heat for extended times.

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    I don't care. On long hot rides I notice a difference when I take e caps. That is good enough for me.
    Carry on.

  24. #24
    Senior Member rangerdavid's Avatar
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    cytomax for me. it works to stop the thigh burn for me, and keep me riding longer. that's all i need to know.

  25. #25
    Pain ?? What Pain !!
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    I take 3 Endurolytes before hot rides. Have not had any problems.
    2010 Felt F75

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