Sport drink recommendations sans potassium


After the recent annual physical and blood draw, everything came back within the normal ranges except potassium which is modestly elevated. The recommended level for my age & sex is 5.3 and I am at 5.4.

My diet is pretty broad and balanced. After a quick internet search, my diet includes all of the food groups that are naturally high in potassium with the exception of red meat. I don’t happen to eat much red meat. The only thing that has changed is since the beginning of the year, I have been drinking a bottle of SiS Go Electrolyte that contains potassium chloride with every ride (usually 3 - 4/week). The label says potassium is 2% of the daily value. Which doesn’t seem like much

Are there any supplements that contain carbohydrates but don’t contain potassium? In case a change is warranted. Thanks in advance.

did your doc actually say to reduce?


The easiest and cheapest thing is to mix your own with some bulk maltodextrin. You can add sodium citrate if you need electrolytes. I buy Now Dextrose or Carbogain off of Amazon (8 or 10 pounds) and it usually comes to around $.20 per ounce. A tub last me forever.

Gatorade powder costs even less and is basically maltodextrin. I use a little in my bottles for taste but can’t take full strength Gatorade so I mix it with plain maltodextrin.

I’m not a doc and this isn’t medical advice but I personally wouldn’t worry about a .1 out of range on one single test. What is the margin of error on the test? How much do these tests vary if you tested every day for a week? If I were concerned, I’d do whatever my doc says to do.


This is the important question. The sample was most likely hemolyzed and thus falsely elevated. If not, you should be having a more in depth discussion with your doctor about management going forward.


Im not your doctor but if your other kidney function tests (BUN and Cr) are normal than you should be able to handle the K and your blood draw may have been a little hemolyzed. For patients with kidney injury/failure things have to get pretty bad before K becomes a problem. FWIW

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Not a medical doctor, but I think you are jumping to conclusions:

  • Did a doctor look at your blood work results? If not, take your results to a doctor.
  • When a doctor sees something unusual, I would expect them to follow up on it. What do your high potassium readings mean? What might be behind it? What might be the consequences?
  • When I got blood test results back, there were always normal ranges indicated rather than a single number.
  • Not all unusual readings need to be indicative of a medical problem. E. g. my red blood cell counts were right at the limit of the normal range. But I reckon this is just due to me doing endurance sports and not an indication of a medical problem.
  • Sometimes measurements are done improperly or fail for some weird reason. At my health checkup in a hospital two days ago the Tanita scale pegged me at 28.9 % body fat. Pride aside, but that’s not even in the right ballpark. I think that some test results are influenced e. g. by what you have eaten.
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Sounds like a non-issue to me. Also, there’s no such thing as an exact “normal level” when it comes to biomarkers. It’s always a reference range, and the ranges aren’t an exact science. Different doctors and testing companies use different reference ranges, which are based more on averages than what is optimal.


As the others have said, I would talk to your doctor, but if you just want to change your drink, I’ll add a +1 for making your own. There is a huge thread here about it, but I like to use Maltodextrin:Fructose in a 2:1 ratio. I add an electrolyte table for the sale and flavor. If it’s an easy ride and I don’t need much carbohydrate, I will just use table sugar.

My stomach is sensitive to some things, but many others do a combo of Gatorade plus additional carbs.


Thanks for all of the suggestions. My original wording did contain information about the doctor’s evaluation. I thought it made the question unnecessarily wordy so I deleted it before posting. The doctor has ordered another blood draw in 30 days to see if this is just an anomaly.

Anyway, @MaudeD , @OreoCookie and others, all of the other measurements came back within whatever the acceptable range is, often right in the middle. Potassium is the only measurement that was outside its range and that only by 0.1.

I finally took @ambermalika 's advice not to diet on the bike and have been consistently nailing all of the workouts with this one change. I’ll stop the drink for 30 days until the next blood draw. If the high reading persists, I’ll try some of the recommendations for making my own mix. As a cyclist, I can be guilty of overthinking things.


I’ve been trying to figure out if I should be adding potassium to my homemade water bottle formulation, so have done a bit of reading. A couple items that have stood out, that may give a bit of perspective.
a) the daily recommended intake for potassium (on average) is actually more mg than the rda for sodium (and lots of articles said that most people don’t get enough potassium daily)
b) many articles said that blood serum potassium levels aren’t a very good marker for your potassium levels since potassium is mainly held in the muscles (would need to take muscle sample to really tell), and during exercise is released into the bloodstream (as part of the process to shuttle glycogen to the muscles)
c) during exercise when you are sweating heavily, you can lose 200-300mg per hour in sweat

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Blood tests are pretty wildly misread by many patients and some physicians too.

Having a 0.1 above ‘recommended levels’ is nothing. Literally. Don’t interpret the ‘recommended levels’ as a hard ceiling. If it were 2 or 3 points high, I’d be concerned as a patient, and your physician would be right to try to track that down, but 0.1? Relax, and have a banana…

The medical folk needed to come up with a way to suss out issues with patients and decided on upper and lower ranges of certain tested substances which can give the patient the idea that being above or below that level is ‘abnormal’ and prone to illness. Yeah, but that excludes the possibility that certain people run lower or higher in certain tested compounds, and even certain races and genders can run contrary to the ‘better judgement’ of a group of medical people, and ignores the fact that they are ‘snap shots’ of the levels at that moment.

One thing that I personally found was that I was high in the PSA test, but if I stopped riding for a week, it was normal. The PSA test apparently doesn’t test for ‘cancer’, but for what could be called prostate ‘comfort’. Doing certain things can make your prostate ‘uncomfortable’, and cause an elevated PSA test result. I always stop for a week or so before a PSA test, just to baby my prostate and get good numbers. But if I tested ‘really high’ then I would be looking for more tests to see if it is really a possible cancer issue.

But yeah, once I ate a bunch of seafood before a blood test the next day, and had high cholesterol, and serum sodium. (Well, DUH!)

So, don’t sweat the minuscule increase in potassium. So much could make it spike that unless you really spike, and have a history of it, or symptoms of high potassium, I’d relax that the rest of your results were so good. (I freaked over a low hemoglobin result once, and it’s so common and was ‘just barely low’ that it was nothing as well) There are things to be freaking out over based on test results. You are fine… It’s good to be looking at your results, but don’t read so much into them.

And an interesting thing I discovered, we have a water softener and I tested on the high side for sodium, so I switched to potassium chloride, and the sodium dropped, and my ‘lowish’ potassium levels went up. My doc said that swapping the chloride compound was brilliant and was clearly the best thought to improve my health. Cutting the sodium level was awesome…


LOL tell me you don’t know what you’re talking about without telling me you don’t know what you’re talking about. A potassium that is 20 or 30 points high is impossible in a living person.

For what it’s worth, I start getting squirrelly when a potassium is 6. That is, I’m doing providing interventions the patient NOW or sending them to the emergency department if it’s an outpatient situation.

Instead of asking strangers on the internet, ask your doctor about the result. If the sample was not hemolyzed, my first step would be to repeat the test. If it came back high again, I’d start figuring out why a presumably otherwise healthy person has a mild hyperkalemia.

Some things I dismiss as normal-ish. Hyperkalemia isn’t one of them.


I’m guilty of not being a physician. Jail me. Punish me. I pulled numbers out of the air.

But to overreact to a 0.1 level increase in one test result on one day is kind of chicken little. Get it done again. If it’s still ‘high’, get concerned. Get it tested again, and if it’s still high, get more concerned. I am aware that certain substances that show up on those tests do have low tolerances but not being a physician I have no clue what the LD50 for potassium would be.

Freak out about the 0.1 if you want, it is your life, but the sky isn’t falling, just yet, IMO.

Part of what drove me to comment was the fact that I have ‘pushed the panic button’ before on test results. I freaked holy hell over an ‘elevated’ PSA test. Then I researched that bikers tend to run high on that test, and it was said there is high, and there is ‘high’, and someone running high on their PSA with a familial history of prostate cancer should take it more seriously than someone with no history at all, and a marginal result. So I could freak out about a lot of my test results over the years, but they all trended perfect, and an occasional spike is not necessarily the end of my life. It’s the ‘trending’ of results that is often more important than a one time result.

If they (you?) are trending higher, get it looked at. All I was saying is ‘don’t freak out over one result’. Let your physician do that. Good grief…

Well, and yes there are results that do carry more weight. I trust that my physician and other medical people I can consult with will tell me when to light my hair on fire. (Like my liver ultrasound recently)

What got me into the PSA issue was a local rider got a ‘high’ PSA test result, and his doc said SURGERY! STAT!!, and he did it. They found nothing, and he’s suffered with lots of side effects of that surgery. Yet another rider, same group ironically, had a really high PSA result, and it DID end up cancer. He had a familial history of it though, and it was apparently really kinda high all of a sudden. So FOR ME I alter my riding to help get a more realistic result. If I live long enough, my prostate will likely kill me, but I don’t need to suffer the side effects of a needless surgery. If the OP’s doc said it was a problem, it’s a problem. Just because it’s high once doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a problem was all I was trying to say.

Whatever. People are free to freak out any time they want. I’m out…

Just going to throw a plug out here for Saturday Morning App.

While the app assumes you’re going to combine sodium and carbs, for the most part I have them split.

Hydration goes in the hydro pack, carbs in solids, gels, and bottles. So I start with the reccomendation from that app, go with a weak version of Gu/Nuun tabs, augment the sodium with sodium citrate and use the app to help dial in the carbs/sodium coming from the rest of my ride fuel. I haven’t cramped since using the app, so it’s obvious that off the shelf stuff did NOT have enough sodium for me.


don’t stress about this!!

The Skratch Hydration Sport Drink Mix, as far as I can tell, has ‘0% potassium’. The only issue I have with their mix is it seems to have a larger amount of sodium than my trainer and doc is comfortable with, although I do use it on occasion. All potions, bars, and gels are a tradeoff between what you like and what you get. (Like ‘GU’, I can’t stomach it, but it seems to be a good system for many people. Hammer works for me, and I did flirt with Gatorade (BARF!) and generally stick mainly to water and maybe a banana or Luna Lemon snack size)

At one point Skratch had a ‘mango tangerine’, and a ‘tangerine mango’ mix. I guess you can have it both ways then?

Skratch 'Wellness Hydration Mix does have potassium 6%, and their High-sodium has 4%, according to the labels.

FWIW that’s why you have to consult a doctor. Sometimes the changes and discrepancies= in the numerical values may seem small, but might be significant. Or vice versa, the changes are “big”, but nothing to worry about.

But I wouldn’t do anything drastic unless your doc recommends it.