Coach Chad’s Hydration

I’m new to TR and I’m catching up on all the podcasts. Many times @chad mentions how he’s recently nailed hydration and that plain water isn’t enough, that he adds sodium or glucose to help the water stick. My question is, are we talking a pinch of table salt and a pinch of sugar or something more elaborate?


Ask him :smiley: @chad


Hey @gregbuk. It can actually be just that simple. Typically, we’re talking about something more elaborate like Skratch or Osmo or something similar, but Stacy Sims describes here homemade hydration fluid as nothing more than “a pinch of salt and a dash of maple syrup” added to her water bottle which she further clarifies as being 1/16th tsp salt and 1 tsp maple syrup per 20oz water. Just a little of both make water more closely resemble our body water (since no pure water exists inside our bodies) and vastly enhances absorption.


It’s pretty well known that ‘off the shelf’ sports drinks don’t contain enough sodium for the needs of most endurance athletes.
There are quite a few companies that have started offering sweat testing now so that you can identify and dial in your exact requirements. One company over here in the UK is Precision Hydration - a really useful website with loads of good information.
You can make your own mix, but it will always be hit and miss compared to knowing the data…

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I was under the impression that @chad’s hydration consisted of IPAs.


NUUN, the easiest way to roll…not only do they have the electrolytes you need, 10 calories per tablet and they taste good too. They also have NUUN performance for workouts over 90 minutes along with options with caffeine as well as NUUN immunity .

I can tell you first hand the water alone can end up with really bad consequences, drinking water alone between perspiration and water flushing your system of other electrolytes can have a catastrophic ending. Once your sodium levels drop to bad levels you can easily slip into a coma and die, regardless of how much water you drink, hyponatremia is a bad way to lose a friend.

Hmmm, how about honey in stead of maple syrup? Here in Zambia you cannot find proper maple syrup, but honey is easy to get. I have to find a way to make my own drinks as supplements for endurance sports is non-existent here.

Honey works as well , brown sugar / or palm sugar is tasty as well but only good in the winter , since you have to desolve that in warm water.
My mix depends on the length of the workout and the intensity but I always add at least a little pinch of salt

Add to a liter of water:

heaping 1/3 tsp of salt
3 tbsp of dextrose/glucose
(This is a formula that the CEO of Skratch gave to me except he recommended sodium citrate instead of salt)

There is a limit to how much plain water can be absorbed through the gut. However, as salt and dextrose are absorbed by the gut they also pull quite a bit of H2O along. So adding some low concentration of salt and water to your water will actually enhance the aggregate amount of water your gut can absorb.

And, of course, there is the added benefit of getting some extra calories and electrolytes.


FWIW, NUUN is 10 calories per tablet, not 100 - just want to clarify since it does not serve as a liquid fuel/carb replenishment like many other “sports drinks”. That said, 360mg sodium seems to be pretty well in line with most recommendations for electrolyte intake/hour.

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@wfenwick you would be correct, it is 10 calories

Can I just clarify - you guys are talking about hydration during a ride / workout. What about a few days before a hard/long race. What would be good practice? I know you’d need to be well hydrated before the race. My question is in the few days before the race, should I also add salt/glucose? Assuming I’m not training in the few days leading to the race, I am not therefore sweating/losing electrolytes, etc. Should I just drink lots of pure water or enrich it with salt/glucose as well?

Assuming there is no training involved and your normal job or day doesn’t have you sweating profusely, drinking plain water is fine. There is no super-hydration tactics needed. You don’t need “lots” of pure water either, only about half your body weight in ounces plus whatever you sweat out. Usually allowing your thirst to dictate is fine, unless you’re bad about drinking enough water daily.


Bit of a generalized statement. I tested at about 1400 mg per hour.

@Ports If you tend to sweat heavily AND your sweat has high salt content AND you will be doing a long workout/race, then both Precision Hydration and Skratch Labs seem to suggest that you drink something with more concentrated sodium levels the night and morning before your event. Take a look at Precision Hydration’s PH 1500 product and Skratchs Lab’s Hyper Hydration Drink Mix (although you should take Precision Hydration’s online test to see which product is correct for you and reach Skratch Lab’s cautionary statement about who the Hyper Hydration Mix is appropriate for).

I think the idea behind both products is to get you to retain water before the race / event so that you don’t need to drink quite as much during the race / event. Again, I don’t believe this is needed for everyone, so consider each manufacturer’s advice.


FWIW, I’m preparing for a couple of century rides during this summer, which are often in hot, humid conditions. I will also be doing a couple of metric centuries as warmups, and I’m even considering a 200k ride. I’m a big guy (240 lbs.), I sweat heavily, and I can tend to develop leg cramps, so I want to make sure I have a good hydration strategy and test it now to make sure that whatever I wind up choosing to drink is compatible with my digestion.

I have been considering various home-brew suggestions such as the above, and also looking at a number of commercial offerings, and I am completely bewildered by the complete lack of anything even approaching consistency across products in terms of:

  1. Sugar / carb / calorie content per liter (everyone seems to recommend adding their powder to a different amount of water, so I convert everything to liters to be consistent)

  2. Sodium levels

  3. Potassium levels

Here are some very simple examples:

  1. Skratch Labs Sport Hydration Mix:
    – Calories per liter: 169
    – Carbs per liter: 44.4g / 4.4%
    – Sodium per liter: 803mg
    – Potassium per liter: 82.4mg
    Ratio of sodium to potassium: almost 10:1

  2. Vitalyte
    – Calories per liter: 169
    – Carbs per liter: 42.3g / 4.2%
    – Sodium per liter: 287.4mg
    – Potassium per liter: 389mg
    Ratio of sodium to potassium: 0.74:1 (Compare to Skratch Labs!)

  3. Science in Sport Go Electrolyte Energy Drink Powder
    – Calories per liter: 300
    – Carbs per liter: 74g / 7.4% (Note that this seems extremely high. As far as I can tell, you ideally want to be below 4% in hot conditions.)
    – Sodium per liter: 700mg
    – Potassium per liter: 176mg
    Ratio of sodium to potassium: almost 4:1

  4. Osmo Nutrition Active Hydration for Men
    – Calories per liter: 148
    – Carbs per liter: 38g / 3.8%
    – Sodium per liter: 676mg
    – Potassium per liter: 190mg
    Ratio of sodium to potassium: ~3.5:1

Note that the above only compares electrolyte mixes that include sugars for fuel. It doesn’t include pure electrolyte mixes/tablets with relatively negligible sugar. For example:

  1. Science in Sport Go Hydro Electrolyte Tablets
    – Calories per liter: 20
    – Carbs per liter: Unknown, but less than 2g (listed as <1g per 500ml)
    – Sodium per liter: 700mg
    – Potassium per liter: 130mg
    Ratio of sodium to potassium: ~5.4:1

  2. Nuun Active Hydration tablets (new formula)
    – Calories per liter: 21
    – Carbs per liter: 8.4g / 0.8%
    – Sodium per liter: 760mg
    – Potassium per liter: 211mg
    Ratio of sodium to potassium: ~3.6:1

Then there is the fundamental question of whether any of this is needed at all. By that I don’t mean “Do I need a commercial solution? Why can’t I just add a bit of salt and maple syrup or honey to my water at home?” Instead I mean: “Why do I need to anything to my water, full stop?” Yes, I know that we lose electrolytes through sweat. Yes, I know that adding sugar assists with hydration and the absorption of water. But if I am consuming gels or other food that contains electrolytes and sugar, is it really necessary or advisable to ALSO include electrolytes and sugar in my water bottle? I’m not opposed to it, I just can’t figure out whether that is essentially overload…

Anyone have any advice on which is preferable for long distance endurance rides in hot conditions?
A. Electrolyte drink with sugar – If so, which of the options above seems closest to having the right carb / sodium / potassium ratio?
B. Electrolyte drink with negligible sugar
C. Plain water
(Note that all of these would necessarily be supplemented with gels and other food.)

Sorry for the long post, but this is driving me crazy…



Table salt or Sea salt?

I’m not sure there’s much science on whether and how much salt needs replenishing - a lot of salt in your sweat might mean that you have too much salt and your body is getting rid…

about half your body weight in ounces

You didn’t mention the unit for the body weight… or maybe you meant your body weight in ounces? :laughing:

Does anyone else see Nuuns 10 calories/ tablet as a bad thaing rather than a good thing in regards to training/nutrition? Easier to combine the two and supplement with additional food/ gels IME

amcananey: this is a bit late, but one of the Precision Hyrdration people was on That Triathlon Show recently. Episode 191. Granted, he’s running a business and sponsoring that podcast, but he seemed to make a lot of sense to me.