What's to know about this hydration revolution? Today, I'm sharing the latest trend in hydration and, specifically, electrolytes. Many riders in the Tour are now using almost twice as many electrolytes as they used just a year or two ago.
I'll start with a funny story.
Earlier this year, a Tour de France team was racing the Tour of Dubai, which was hot.
One of the team doctors started grabbing all the little white salt packets in the hotel breakfast room and had all the riders add them to their water bottles.
The next day, another team was doing the same thing. By day three, all the teams were running around trying to find the little salt packets like they were gold.
This story serves as an example of how fresh this trend is on electrolyte levels. However, adding table salt (sodium chloride) is not the best answer compared to a properly formulated high sodium hydration drink.
Shifting to high electrolytes in your hydration is the hottest trend with many of the Tour de France teams. I'm not going to debate the science that can point to this being a fantastic or terrible idea.
Instead, I will focus on the anecdotal feedback of the riders, with most reporting feeling much better with high electrolyte drinks.
As background, I would consider these as electrolyte levels:
- Low Electrolyte = 200mg of sodium
- Medium Electrolyte = ~400mg of sodium (i.e. Skratch)
- High Electrolyte = over 750mg of sodium (i.e. First Endurance, LMNT)
For simplicity, we don't consider the other electrolytes like magnesium, calcium, and potassium in the counts and look at sodium levels.
First Endurance is the first hydration during your workout with the ideal balance of high levels of electrolytes and the right amount of sugar. Their hydration drink, called EFS, was recently reformulated and has become enormously popular over the last six months.
Another popular you might have heard about is LMNT which has taken off with the high sodium craze. I'm a big fan of LMNT after my workout to rehydrate. But during your workout, I would steer clear as it has no sugar, and you need some sugar to hydrate more rapidly when you are out riding or running (see below)
If you prefer to stick with your current hydration, you should check out SaltStick FastChews. They're one of the most efficient ways to increase electrolytes by popping 4 to 6 in your mouth every hour.
Here are my top choices for slightly higher electrolyte hydration:
3. Powerbar IsoActive (lower electrolytes, but tasty)
4. LMNT (very salty, best post-workout)
5. The Right Stuff (the most salty, best post-workout)
Why some sugar?
We don't love LMNT during workouts because there is a mechanism in our body called "Glucose Transport". You want enough sugar in your hydration to take advantage of it as it helps you rehydrate faster.
In my experience, you want at least 8g to 16g of sugar for optimal workout hydration.
Will this work for me?
The best way to find out is to try it out and see how you feel.
Most Tour cyclists are going high electrolytes, but I did speak with a past Tour winner preparing for this year's race looking for low-sodium hydration and gels as he was having digestive issues with the higher sodium products. So it isn't for every rider.
Hydration for Kids?
We just got in the brand new SOS Kids Hydration. If you have some little ones at home, try this out and let us know what they think!.