Monday, August 20, 2012

Electrolyte Needs

A few weeks ago I inadvertently started and argument with a "local" running store and Hammer Nutrition (edit: over an article written by the running store). The article was pushing endurolytes for replacing lost electrolytes while training in the heat. Hammer Nutrition is a great company and I use their products however, the amount of sodium, potassium...etc in endurolytes for the price is a joke. I was simply trying to make the point that endurolytes are extremely overpriced when compared to say Salt Stick. I also made the comment that I would need to carry at least 2 bottles ($40) for an Ironman. I wish they would lower the price and add a second product with more sodium and price it at a reasonable price.

There has been an ongoing discussion (that has mostly stopped) between myself and a few other tri club members regarding electrolytes. One person has resorted to making his own electrolyte tablets...which is a great idea IF and ONLY IF you know what you're doing. That same person from the tri club is now on a first name basis with someone from Hammer and went back and forth about electrolytes during training and Hammer had the opinion that you couldn't possibly need 1000mg of sodium per hour. I disagree.

The author assured me that he does an IM with maybe 20 endurolyte tablets. Great, this might work for you but, I'm one of those people who needs 1000mg+ of sodium and the appropriate amount of potassium per hour when it's hot out. What makes this more interesting (to me at least) is the amount of sodium and potassium one of the pros took during IMNYC:

Sodium: 6632mg (1494mg/hour)
Potassium 2014mg (454mg/hour)

...on the bike

Sodium 5316mg (1778mg/hour)
Potassium 1216mg (407mg/hour)

...for the run

That would be almost $60 worth of pills. Imagine spending $20 on sodium pills for every long ride you do and then another $10-15 for long runs.

Granted the pros are going fast but, I weigh more than the pros and sweat just as much if not more. So, I don't understand how an argument against high electrolyte consumption can be made. Even Macca admits that he couldn't win Kona unless he loaded up on electrolytes in the days before the race. He figured this out from talking to bodybuilders, which when you think about it bodybuilders walk a fine line between dehydration and not cramping during competition.

So, to sum up...I suppose I'll stop listening to "experts" since my electrolyte needs are clearly not close to the needs of the majority.


  1. With all due respect, Sir, this is fascinating. Simply fascinating.
    Where did you get the stats on the pro consumption at NY?

    1. Jordan Rapp's IMNYC nutrition post on Slowtwitch.

  2. Just checked that out. Wow. That stuff is insanely detailed and great resource. With an open mind.

  3. You make a great case that we all have "individual" needs.

  4. Timely post for me as I am just starting to learn to use "salt pills"! I have been using Salt Sticks for the past two weeks and still trying to find the right amount of pills for me!