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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As I am getting better at mountain biking, and thus more obsessed with the sport, I am going for longer, sweatier rides. I bring a lot of water with me, but I've been told that should be bringing electrolytes or salt replacement tablets with me as well.
I understand the concepts behind electrolytes, but not so much with the salt replacers. I always thought that was part of what electrolytes were.
So what's the deal?
Also, I'm looking for opinions on brands/types. I don't like Gatorade-like sports drinks, I find them too sugary.

Help me out! :)
 

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When you sweat your body looses sodium. Sodium is important with the body's regulation of hydration. Remember osmosis from chemistry class? Water wants to move from areas of low salt concentration to areas of high salt concentration. In layman's terms, you can become dehydrated quicker. The Sodium-Potassium Pump is one mechanism that moves nutrients across the cell membrane into the cell. It also excites the nervous system cells and heart cells.

So you want to hydrate yourself - It is not likely that during normal exercise you are going to deplete your body's stores of electrolytes. Maybe after 4 or 5 hours you would need salt tablets or gatorade. I still take sports drinks with me in a bottle to supplement my water in a pack. The sugar gives a little burst of energy.

-extreme examples-
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyponatremia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypokalemia
 

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you should be fine as long as you arent riding for more then a few hours, i always keep a gatorade in the cooler for post rides. there are some tablets made by camelbak that i tried last year and liked they werent super tasting but replaced as much electrolytes and sodium as gatorade you could try those
 

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If you plan on riding for 4+ hours, then you'd probably need electrolytes... or if it is extreme heat or you're going at race pace. Otherwise, eat sensibly before and eat hearty afterwards and you'll be fine with your salt/mineral levels. If you find yourself constantly thrsty and water doesn't seem to help then you probably need some salt and electrolytes and DEFINITELY need to stop.... see emtnate's links for why.
 

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I don't know how long of rides you're talking about. I say a ride isn't truly long unless it can't be started and finished in daylight.

Typically I don't worry about electrolytes on rides under 3 hours unless I'm racing. In races I generally need them around 2 hours. It also depends on what sports drink you're using. Some of them have more electrolytes than others.

I'd stay away from taking salt tablets. Americans typically get more than enough salt. Some of the other electrolytes like potassium and magnesium also need to be replenished. If you just do salt, things can get out of balance.

Hammer Nutrition makes a great electrolyte replacement called Endurolytes. They have balanced electrolytes.

If you're looking for something to drink other than Gatorade, I'd look at the Hammer products. They have HEED for shorter distances and Sustained Energy and Perpetuem. Here's a link on how I use the Hammer Nutrition products.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks so much, I feel much better equipped with this knowledge! I'm currently riding about 2 hours each time, but some days are quite hot and humid (yes, even in Canada!) I'm starting to stretch my rides out to 3 and 4 hours, so I now I can pick up some electrolyte stuffs because I know what they're all about.
Thanks!
 

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Personally I've stayed away from...

Gatorade type drinks as they've done next to nothing for me when it comes to cramping up, etc. I switched to Smartwater by Glaceau 2 years ago and I swear by the stuff. It's inexpensive and available at most grocery stores.
 

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I have found for myself the best combo is eat a Power Performance bar about 45 mins before I ride and every 45 mins to an hour take a Power Bar Gel with water. I was really amazed how this improved my riding capabilities. FYI the vanilla crisp are the better tasting bars and the strawberry /vanilla are the better tasting gels. Wal-mart and Target carry these products now.
 
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