Electrolytes, math, and me

As the rides have been getting tougher the stress on my body has been getting greater.  I have in the past had post-ride cramps that I've been trying to avoid.  One thing I've figured out is that I haven't been getting enough electrolytes.  The ALC guidelines say that I should have 1 bottle with water and 1 bottle with electrolyte.  What wasn't clear is that is the MINIMUM.  No reason not to have BOTH bottles with electrolyte solution.  Yay.

I started off using Nuun.  Easy to carry, it tasted ok.  I had it one bottle.  But I was trying to "balance" the plain water bottle vs the Nuun and that's where I think my mistake was.  If I keep using Nuun I plan to use it in both bottles and just drink a bottle until it's done.  That makes it easier for me to understand.

The next step was to use Hammer Endurolyte capsules.  They said "1 cap per 50lb body weight per hour" as a base.  That was easy enough.  For me, rounding up, that was 5 caps per hour.  I did that my last ride and felt ok.  They also have a "Fizz" version which seems similar to Nuun that I have *not* tried. 

My next step will be to try Skratch Labs.  Vanessa, Cycling Goddess, loves it.  It has a great rep.  We'll see.

But what do the numbers say?  Well, let's take the recommended numbers.  The standard rule of thumb is 1 bottle of fluid per hour.  What's interesting is that it's not body weight dependent.  Maybe I need more?  Here are the numbers comparing 1 bottle per hour at the recommended concentration vs. 5 Endurolyte caps.


Serving size: 16oz prepared, 1 24oz bottle/hr

NutrientPer servingPer hour


Serving size: 8 oz prepared.  1 24 oz bottle/hr

NutrientPer servingPer hour

Endurolytes Caps

Serving size:  1 Cap, 5 caps/hr

NutrientPer servingPer hour

Endurolytes Fizz

Serving size: 16 oz prepared, 1 24oz bottle/hr 

NutrientPer servingPer hour

The numbers are interesting.  The Endurolyte option is giving me less sodium but way more of everything else.  They have a detailed article telling me why they have their mix the way they do, but it's interesting that their fizzy version mixes things up differently.  The one other variable is that the Skratch drink mix has 40 calories per serving, so that 1 bottle per hour would have 120 calories in it.  

Then there is the issue of practicality.  This is something I have to carry with me - none of these options will be found at ALC rest stops.  Let's say that I consume 1 bottle/hr minimum.  On my first century it took 7.5 hrs - I'm gonna round that up to 8 hours moving time for a long day.  The first two bottles of the day I could make at home (or in camp).  So that's 6 bottles over the course of the rest of the day.  At 1.5 little envelopes per bottle that's 9 envelopes of Skratch that I would have to carry with me.  If I "went safe" and doubled up on Nuun and/or Endurolytes Fizz it would be 12 tablets (or 1 tube).  It's 40 caps of the regular Endurolytes which is fairly easy to carry in a small baggy.  The Skratch Labs option is the least practical for sure.

I also haven't hydrated with anything that involves real calories.  I think I'm getting enough calories over the course of a ride but it's uneven - I eat when stopped.  Perhaps there is value in getting some calories in on a regular basis.  

I haven't tried drinking nothing but Nuun for a day.  I know there are times where I've preferred the taste of water.  I also haven't tried the Endurolytes Fizz at all.  I will be trying Skratch Labs on a short ride in the next day or two.  I have done a ride where I drank plain water and took 5 caps every hour (when the "moving time" clock on my Garmin said so).  That seemed to work ok, but like the un-even energy intake I wonder if it's less than ideal.

I will say this - this all gets to be rather overwhelming, and it's also rather individual.  I've got about 2 months to try the combinations and find what works best for me.  Hopefully I will be able to leverage the experience of others in addition to my own experiments.