My interest in electrolytes started after getting dizzy during workouts on hot days. It was back in 2011 when Austin, TX had over 60 days of 100+ degree weather; the weight room’s only ventilation was a large garage door with fans, and it was just generally hot as hell. The first day I got dizzy, I just sat out the rest of that workout and started drinking a lot of water. It took me about an hour and a half to recover back to the point where I felt normal. The second dizzy day, a gym mate (thanks Tiffany!) offered me a packet of electrolytes, I drank it, and I started feeling better 30 minutes later. I tried preloading electrolytes with Gatorade before workouts, and it was back to working out out as usual.
Fast forward to now, I’m older, and weight is harder to lose. A 32oz bottle of Gatorade is 200 calories with 53g of sugar, so it was one of my prime candidate to cut out of my diet. The dilemma now is: how do I get electrolytes without the carbs, when temperatures are already 95+F in the beginning of June? This is where I tried something that I heard my triathlete friends use – salt tablets. They’re also known as hydration pills, rehydration tablets and electrolyte supplements.
What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are essential minerals that your body needs to function. They affect the amount of water in your body, blood pH, muscle action, and other important processes. The primary electrolytes are sodium, potassium, and calcium. They cycle through your body naturally – you consume them by eating foods that contain them, and they are either consumed by your body or expelled through sweat.
When you’re working out in sweltering Texas summers, you tend to sweat a lot, and if you work out hard or long enough, you’re going to be sweating electrolytes out faster than your body can use them. When you have this imbalance in your system, this can lead to fatigue, muscle cramping, and dizziness, amongst other symptoms.
Keep in mind that an electrolyte supplement is not a replacement fo drinking plain ol’ water. It is important to drink plenty of water before, during and after the workout. The recommended amount of water, if you’re not working out, is 3.7L for men, and 2.7L for women a day (about a gallon for dudes, 3/4 of a gallon for women). You need more than this if you intend to work out, especially if you’re exercising outdoors on these dog days of summer. If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
As with any supplement, always consult your doctor before taking them – especially if you have a known condition.
TOTAL HYDRATION Enhanced+ Electrolytes
I wanted to start off that this is not a sponsored review. I purchased these for $24.95 from Amazon with my own money and they arrived on time with Prime shipping.
One order gets you 100 capsules. The suggested usage per the bottle is:
For exercise, take two (2) capsules with water 30 minutes before exercise to pre-load electrolytes, then two (2) capsules every 30-60 minutes during physical activity to maintain optimal electrolyte levels or as directed by healthcare practitioner. Do not exceed 10 capsules daily.
For rehydration, take 2 capsules with 16 to 32 oz of water two to three times per day or as directed by a healthcare practitioner. Do not exceed 10 capsules daily.
So basically, this is 50 doses. I aim to hit the gym at least 4 times a week, so one order is about 6 weeks’ worth of salt tablets.
Funny enough, I tried googling for their corporate website and I couldn’t find one, although I did find a review that referenced them. Total Hydration ranked #2 above more commonly known #3 Saltstick, the price difference was only a few bucks, so I thought I’d give them a shot.
According to the packaging, these supplements support Rapid Rehydration, Muscle Gain and Recovery, Reduced Heat Stress, Reduced Cramping, Energy and Endurance, and Increased Energy. Since I couldn’t find the research behind this, I’m skeptical of their performance.
I wanted to find a quantitative way to measure their performance, but the only way to get numbers for metrics are via blood tests. Since I’m not a doctor, medical expert, or pretend to be one, I don’t have access to these kinds of tests (and I imagine they’re expensive anyway). I asked a nurse friend of mine for advice on a way to measuring their performance in regard to hydration, and she said nurses use skin turgor and capillary refill to determine if a patient is hydrated or not. Since I don’t have this training, I had to rule this testing method out. I asked about urine color (light colors good, dark colors = drink some water), and while generally this is a good way of testing your hydration level, outside factors can influence the color (think coffee). Since I can’t measure metrics for this, this review is purely opinion.
I started using these Mid-May with the for exercise directions before every workout I did, and this was on top of trying to drink at least a gallon+ of water every day before the WOD. This has continued all the way through early June, and I have yet to feel the dizziness I associated with electrolyte imbalance back in 2011. I tried at first to do two capsules before and after the workout, and I dropped the post-workout capsules as I found that I didn’t need them. So, for the most part, I can say they work, since I haven’t had a Gatorade at all for 2018.
I asked our resident Ironman (congratulations, Alyssa!) to try these as well. She used the SaltStick brand during her Ironman in Houston, TX, and she said that she could not tell the difference between TOTAL HYDRATION and SaltStick.
Val M. tried these twice – after one workout, she was feeling a little dizzy, so I asked her to try two capsules. She said she felt better within 30 minutes. The second time she tried them, she mentioned that she wasn’t sure if they worked the second time around.
Matt M. also tried these pre-WOD (right before the workout) a few times. When I asked him how he felt afterward, he just shrugged and said “They aight.”
When compared to the price of $34.95 for 100 capsules for Salt Stick Caps Plus (Amazon.com), I think I’m going to stick with TOTAL HYDRATION. As far as I can tell, the Total Hydration caps work, so I’m going to recommend these for those who are suffering from dehydration during workouts.
Mashhood, Farzad. “Austin about to set record for 100-degree days” Statesmen.com. Austin-American Statesmen, 24 Aug. 2011. Web. 06 Jun. 2018.
“Electrolytes” WebMD.com. WebMD, Inc., 2006. Web. 08 Jun. 2018.
“Water: How much should you drink every day?” MayoClinic.org. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 06 Sep. 2017. Web. 09 Jun. 2018.
Holland, Kimberly. “All About Electrolyte Disorders” Healthline.com. Healthline Media, 18 Jul. 2017. Web. 09 Jun. 2018.