Five Electrolyte Drinks to Beat the Heat

Five Electrolyte Drinks to Beat the Heat

As summer temps heat up, staying hydrated before, during, and after your workouts is more important than ever. Here are five electrolyte drinks that will help you beat the heat.

A vigorous, hot training session often results in a significant loss of water and electrolytes through sweat. While numerous factors influence your personal hydration levels — including your sweat rate, a workout’s intensity, and environmental conditions — using electrolyte drinks can positively influence your performance and recovery. Let’s briefly dive into the science of sweat and then we’ll go over some electrolyte-rich beverages that can help enhance your recovery.

What’s in Your Sweat

Sweat includes electrolytes, which are minerals essential for maintaining fluid balance and assisting in the normal function of nerves and muscles. The highest concentration of electrolytes found in sweat are sodium (ranging from about 460-14160 mg/liter) and chloride (at approximately 710-2840mg/liter). Potassium, magnesium, and calcium are also present in much lower amounts and are less relevant for hydration. 

When your body loses more fluid than it takes in, you risk dehydration. Dehydration can begin to affect aerobic performance with as little as 2% of body weight loss. For example, a 150-pound athlete would begin to experience performance effects after losing around three pounds of fluid, although this variable is unique to each athlete. 

Staying Hydrated With Sodium

Sodium is the key electrolyte in staying hydrated. The ASCM recommends sodium ingestion in all athletes with high sweat rates (1.2>L/h), “salty sweaters,” and for all prolonged exercise greater than two hours. Any sodium intake plan should be customized to your personal sweat rate, sweat sodium content, exercise intensity, and environmental conditions. 

On average, one liter of sweat contains one gram of sodium. That’s a lot. Since the average sweat rate ranges from 0.3 to 2.4 liters per hour, sodium replacement is often necessary. A dose of 300-600 mg of sodium per hour during prolonged exercise (over two hours) is a good place to start. For exercise under an hour, ingesting plain water is generally acceptable.

Note: A solid hydration strategy includes preloading fluids and electrolytes before hot endurance events to prevent dehydration.

Electrolyte Drinks and Mixes

When choosing a prepackaged electrolyte drink, it’s important to read the label. Check the sodium content and whether or not the drink includes carbohydrates and added sugar. For activities over an hour, or if you’re coming into the workout without adequate pre-fueling, the addition of carbohydrates is warranted. It is recommended that hypertensives or anyone needing to restrict sodium intake consult with their physician before undertaking an electrolyte replacement plan.

Here are several commercially available electrolyte drinks you can try, plus a natural way to up your electrolytes and ensure hydration.

1. Precision Hydration  

Precision Hydration is a company that stands out because it offers products to match individual sweat rate and replacement needs. They offer fueling plans by filling out a planner that includes your event conditions and individual sweat rate. They also offer hydration tablets and packets to mix with water that come in various strengths and are low calorie and hypotonic, meaning they contain a lower concentration of salt and sugar than the human body. This makes them suitable for when you need fast hydration without the addition of carbohydrates in your drink.

2. Untapped Maple 

This company, started by a professional cyclist, delivers a blend of four ingredients that are natural and easy to absorb, enhancing rapid hydration. The company has two offerings, a ginger Mapleaid concocted of pure maple syrup, ginger, and sea salt, and a lemon tea Mapleaid that blends maple sugar, lemon, black tea, and sea salt. The single-serves are easy to throw in a pocket to add to a water bottle, but bulk purchasing is also an option. Coming in at 110 mg of sodium per serving, the drink also contains 21 g of carbohydrate and 17 g of sugar, making it a great drink before, during, or after exercise. 

3. SaltStick 

With the word “salt” in the name, the purpose of these chews, caps, and drink mixes is pure hydration without added sugar. While adding the packets to a water bottle creates a super easy electrolyte beverage, they also sell a FastChew tablet that can be consumed in conjunction with water. The formula is designed to mimic the ratio of electrolytes lost through sweat and is cleanly sourced and tested to ensure contamination-free supplementation. 

4. Coconut Water 

This is the clear fluid you’d find if you cracked open a coconut. While coconut water is juice, it is low in sugar and calories and has electrolytes including potassium, sodium, and manganese. The amounts vary, and while it is not a reliable source during long endurance workouts or races, it is an incredibly refreshing way to rehydrate any time during the day, or before and after workouts. Make sure to read the label before purchasing to ensure you’re getting 100% coconut water with no added sugar or preservatives.

5. Homemade Electrolyte Drink 

Making your own electrolyte drink is simple, quick, and inexpensive. The key ingredient is, of course, sodium. While table salt can do the trick, I’d suggest using Himalayan pink salt, which includes additional minerals. 

Here’s an easy recipe:

  • ¼ teaspoon of Himalayan pink salt (which contains 420 mg of sodium)
  • 16-20 oz of water
  • 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup (which contains 26 grams of carbs and plenty of sweetness)

Add a squeeze of lemon, shake well, and you’ve got a refreshing drink ready to go. Adjust measurements based on conditions, individual sweat rate and activity duration and intensity.

References

Vitale, K. & Getzin, A. (2019, June 7). Nutrition and Supplement Update for the Endurance Athlete: Review and Recommendations. Retrieved from https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/6/1289?type=check_update&version=1#cite

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