04 June 2012

Hydration review

Yesterday, I mentioned that I'd post a review of the hydration drink mix I'd started using, that is probably the last and best and forever-est hydration mix I'll use.

The secret is out.

Yes, it's the drink mix formerly known as SDM (Secret Drink Mix), developed by Dr. Allen Lim (now of the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team) as a solution to "rot gut" experienced by pro cyclists during races. I'll let them tell you the whole story, but the upshot is that Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix (formerly known as SDM) is a fairly low-calorie, high-electrolyte hydration mix. As I've always noted, the real problem with hydrating during exercise is not replacing glucose (though, that is an issue), it's the replacing of sodium and potassium. Most drink mixes don't do a very good job of replacing those electrolytes over the long term exercise that marathoners, triathletes, and cyclists perform, but instead focus on glucose uptake to prevent glycogen depletion-related "bonk." That's fine, for the ninety minutes or two hours that most athletes are expected to perform, but not for cyclists, who may ride in their aerobic or tempo heart rate or power zones for five hours at a time.

Why do I like it? First, it's extremely light in taste, which makes it a total non-issue to drink and swallow. Second, it's got the spot-on electrolyte profile that I've been looking for, which means that I don't need the extra electrolytes from the gels (which I'd wanted to cut out for calorie reasons anyway). Third, it's made with real fruit for the flavor; and finally, it's the first drink mix I've used that COMPLETELY DISSOLVES when I mix it with cold water. That alone would make it a top-three mix, but the other reasons push it over the top.

So far, I've used the lemon-lime and orange on a ride-after-ride basis, and I am going to try out the raspberry and pineapple flavors as soon as I can, but even if those two don't fit my taste, the other two do.

I do want to point out that if all you do is a couple of hours here and there, then you might find other mixes to be adequate. If, however, you are getting along past three hours, I strongly recommend you give Skratch Labs a try. I think you'll find, as I did, that they got it right.

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