Sodium vs chloride

In one of the podcasts Chad was talking about sweating, and the replacement of Sodium , and that the body loses sodium more than the chloride so replacement strategies need to focus on sodium more. (Hope I got that right) The supplements I use like Endurolytes are 60 chloride and 40 sodium. , most products I see have more chloride than sodium. What’s better ratio wise?

I would think the ratio is something that is very personal, not a generalization that covers everyone. Picture is from my results of a sweat test. This is way over my head so someone else should chime in. I just use the recommendations given to me to pick a hydration plan.

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This is a complex topic and likely an area that requires more research.

I believe Coach Chad was discussing sodium chloride versus sodium citrate. Skratch labs has been on of the groups really pushing the benefits of sodium citrate over sodium chloride:

Citrate has some other major benefits. The Skratch labs article mentions its buffering capabilities. It can be metabolized to bicarbonate. In addition citrate is a kidney stone inhibitor (kidney stone patients often are prescribed potassium citrate) as it binds calcium in the urine.

Personally I’ve found Skratch has worked well for me. I don’t get GI upset and there is enough evidence regarding the benefit of citrate that this is the go to drink for me for hour plus workouts. I’ve looked at Maurten as well, but it has sodium chloride, not citrate, so this has given me pause using it as main drink on long rides.

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Good stuff, thanks!

Sorry to bump an old thread. But i feel im on topic, and i didn’t find another thread discussing what im looking for (though possibly my ADHD self didn’t look hard enough)

For all my training i just use table salt + brown sugar. But going to start being more scientific with a ratio of sucrose, fructose, and gluce + sodium, with the goal of doing a 24 hour race with minimal cramps and gastric distress. BUT i thought from the podcast they talked about how we lose far more sodium than chloride, and therefore tablesalt not being a good source of sodium. But from that sweat data Trippy posted, it looks like you are losing plenty of chloride (yes its an N of 1, but still). Any help showing me the light through these weeds would be appreciated.
I like the sound Scratches claims… im eager to look into and buy into that. especially if i can find off brand sodium citrate. Maybe half table salt and half sodium citrate if you’re still going to be losing tons of chloride? or are some peoples gut’s just not able to handle a lot of chloride in the system… maybe i misunderstood when i was listening.


The chloride load can be an issue and is something that Skratch Labs attempts to address with the mix, but also discussed by Coach Chad on prior podcasts. The other benefit is that citrate can act as a buffer and is metabolized in the liver to bicarbonate, which may provide some additional benefits.

When you look at Skratch’s ingredients on their Sports Hydration mix, they use all citrate bound electrolytes including sodium citrate, calcium citrate, and potassium citrate. Potassium citrate in particular has been shown to raise urinary pH. There is also some additional citric acid added as well which is simply citrate.

There are labs that will do sweat testing for you to determine your exact composition which may help with re-hydration strategies.

Personally I’ve found Skratch labs works really well for me in most conditions. On really hot days or long events I do supplement with Hammer Endurlytes Extreme which is primarily sodium chloride based. This has worked well for me but everyone is individual.

It will be interesting to hear how @Jonathan strategy evolves during the year. He has been a proponent of Maurten as an in bottle fuel source. It is sodium chloride based (also has some sodium alginate, which is the gel emulsifier in it), but no other electrolytes or citrate. Jonathan mentioned possibly taking some “salt tabs” in addition, but will be interesting to hear what he comes up with for longer rides such as Leadville.

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So if you have sodium citrate and sodium chloride at hand would you use a combination or just citrate?
(I tried with a little addition of sodium chloride last time to get my hydration mix a bit less sweet and more salty. But if I understand correctly just using sodium citrate would be more healthy… Maybe splitting hairs here?)

Myself personally, I’d probably just try and copy the Skratch Formula, with is all citrate based, as a baseline. However there is probably some room to experiment and see what works for you.

There are some other factors to consider to:

  1. Length of ride - short 1 hour ride it probably doesn’t really matter what you have in the bottle but as the duration and intensity ramp up, the more critical the mix becomes. Heat can also be a big factor.

  2. Taste - you already mentioned this but can be a big factor

  3. How your stomach reacts

  4. Other sources of fuel. What are you eating during the ride and what is the composition of it is.

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found sodium citrate on amazon,
I like the idea of copyying scratche’s formula as a baseline. i’ll look that up later.
Going to try doing mostly sodium citrate with some table salt for the chloride, since its a 24 hour race, it seems like a long time to be depleting chloride without any replenishment. Gonna have to figure out the other electrolytes, but might just rely on real food, bananas oranges that are electrolyte dense.

Since you sweat out mostly sodium, i’ve also heard you rely mostly on having good nutrition and stores of those electrolytes in the days/weeks prior to your race, as opposed to replenishing the day of. So i might not have to worry about getting tons of the other electrolytes if my nutrition is on point.
Also got some maltodextrin and fructose powder for a supposedly optimal carbohydrate mix.
Maltodextrin - 5 lb Bag
I’m going to mix it all up and start using it on the trainer, and then see if my stomach handles it when i start doing longer rides when the race gets closer.

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I am deep in the weeds with this right now after a bout with hyponatremia this past week. I have a few questions if anyone has some insight:

  1. if a bottle calls out sodium and chloride independently, is it safe to assume that the sodium is sodium citrate?
  2. is sodium citrate a thing? These bottles have potassium, magnesium and calcium all in both citrate and chloride form. What is the difference?

I am quite confused about how citrate and chloride are different in all of it’s different forms (sodium, magnesium, calcium, potasium), and do we need both in all it’s different forms?

I’ve got my sweat test on order, but don’t even know what to do with the results at this point with all of these different forms of citrate/chloride

You can also use sodium bicarbonate(baking soda) in addition to sodium chloride. I think the idea being that chloride being more commonly found in other foods you will consume on the bike so you’ll overload with chloride. If you’re only going to be drinking mix with no food sodium chloride as the major electrolyte should be fine

Since I am digging, I will share a few resources as I find them for people who e counter this thread later. Here is a very simple and easy to read article from Nuun about the difference between sodium chloride and citrate:


I know this is an old thread, but updated link to the nuun article:

Just in case you never got an answer here…
Sodium Citrate is awesome.

Totally digging up old stuff while I read up on electrolytes for an upcoming youtube vid, but thought you’d enjoy a recent finding:

Intestinal chloride absorption is blunted during exercise to a greater extent than sodium absorption. Just one more reason to either use sodium citrate or a mix of sodium citrate and table salt (sodium chloride).

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