Can a Secret Drink Mix Solve Your Hydration Issues?

I suspect there are very few endurance athletes that have not had some sort of problems with race day fueling and hydration. Sometimes the problems are associated with hot and humid race conditions and other times the problems seem to come out of nowhere.

Last year after presenting at a U.S.A. Cycling Coaching Summit I attended a presentation titled, "Thermoregulation: Manipulation for Performance." The presentation included several strategies to keep athletes from overheating during training and races. One of the strategies was manipulating nutrition and hydration. The presentation was intriguing and it spurred me to reconsider my current fueling and hydration protocol.

The presentation was given by Dr. Stacy Sims, a Research Scientist at Stanford University in thermoregulation and nutrition science. Her main message on the fueling and hydration front was that athletes need to stop trying to use liquids to be both fuel and hydration. Her message was, "Hydration in the bottle, food in the pocket." Another key point she made was that sodium chloride is not a good electrolyte supplement and told us why.

Before I head into a Q&A on this approach, know that the research for the hydration and fueling strategy came from the work done by Dr. Sims and Dr. Allen Lim while working with the Garmin-Slipstream professional cycling team. Dr. Sims now works with Leopard-Trek, TIBCO and Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12 professional cycling teams consulting with them to improve performance. Dr. Sims also does work for individuals on the BMC professional cycling team and triathletes racing International Triathlon Union (ITU) Olympic events, Ironman, 70.3 and XTERRA events. Additionally, she does work for U.S.A. Olympic Hockey, BMX and Track teams.

Sims and Lim did custom mixing for all the athletes under their care. While there hasn't been a big product launch yet, the drink mix is now commercially available by the brand name Secret Drink Mix. I spoke with Dr. Sims a few weeks back to have her answer some common questions that came up during and after her Coaching Summit presentation.

Reading the label of your product, I see you list "sodium" but you're not specific about the type. After attending your presentation, I assume that the sodium types you use include sodium citrate and sodium bicarbonate rather than the sodium chloride that is used in most other products?
While sodium bicarbonate has excellent buffering properties, we are not using it in the exercise solution because it causes some athletes to have gastrointestinal (G.I.) problems. We do, however, use sodium citrate. Additionally, there is no artificial anything in the mix and it contains minimal additional ingredients. All of these details make the product different than the other traditional sports drinks available on the market.

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