Summer temps have shown up all over the US….mileage is increasing and plain water, while important, is not going to cut it!
Electrolytes are minerals that helps us stay hydrated and regulate the balance of our bodily fluids. When we sweat we lose electrolytes. If not managed, it can lead to dehydration, fatigue, cramping, nausea, confusion, irritability, headaches…..
So what kind of electrolyte drink do you need? And how much?
Let’s say you are just looking to replace electrolytes. A low calorie electrolyte replacement drink will get the job done. They typically contain a blend of sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which are the four main electrolytes lost during exercise. A couple of great brands are NUUN and LMNT. How much? It depends…but 20 ounces and hour is a good place start. Don’t forget to drink some plain water also. The longer the run, the more important this becomes. It just may take a little planning on your part. I carry a bottle of electrolyte and swing by a place with water fountain, or stash a bottle by my car or in my backyard, and run loops.
So let’s talk calories for a moment. We are burning more than we are taking in when cycling and running. My general rule is approximately 200-250 calories per hour on the bike, or 30-60 grams of carbs per hour when running after the first hour.
Many athletes like to take liquid nutrition. This means making sure your electrolyte replacement also includes the necessary calories/carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen stores. Infinit, Generation UCANN, Gu, Tailwind, Skratch…these are just a few brands. Or you can stick to your low calorie electrolyte and supplement with bars, chews, or gels.
Whatever you decide to do, PRACTICE! Let’s keep the race day surprises to a minimum !
Are you more of a “non processed” food connoisseur? There are a ton of resources out there to get you started. Here is my homemade version of a low-calorie electrolyte to get you started.
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- Squirt of honey
- Juice of half lemon
- Optional splash of orange juice