Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Salts or No Salts

There are those who swear by salt tablets, and there are those who swear against them. There are those who swear by 'sports drinks' for the salt and other 'electrolytes' in them, and there are those who sneer at them. There are those who believe in the recent fad for drinking huge volumes of water, and there are those who never do it and think it is dangerous (which it is).

Water makes up around 60% of the total body weight, and major reductions impares normal body performance

Sweat contains the following electroyltes - Sodium, Chloride, Calcium, Potassium and Magnesium - technically these are all salts

Many ... sports drinks contain the above electrolyte to a similar concentration as normal sweat - however the sodium concentration is often HIGHER than the sodium concentration in blood. Sodium (in salt as we know it) absorbs water, and is discharged through the body. Therfore excessive levels of sodium found in sports drinks actually blocks the absorbtion of water in the body.

These electrolytes are best managed by eating a healthy balanced diet,

The Australian Sports Commission and Australian Institute of Sport advise that it is not possible to drink too much water [WRONG] as the body will dispose of what is not necessary. HOWEVER, if a person slips into shock from dehydration water CAN be fatal [true] (follow normal shock proceedures - sipping, moisten lips etc)

I recommend to athletes to begin hydration well before training - 2-3 hours. For high performance I recommend begining hydration before going to bed the night before, drinking plenty of water before sleep and then a further 2 litres on waking. Sure this causes heavy peeing but the body is fully hydrated then for a full days training. I follow similar guidelines before my own training.

The causes of cramps are multi-factorial:- cramps occur in conjunction with heat, cold, dehydration, low blood sodium and/or potassium (& probably other eloctrolytes), fatigue, low blood sugar, high intensity (anaerobic) weight training, low intensity (aerobic) training, etc.

Sometimes cramps occur for no apparent reason (like the cramps I get in the arch of my foot in the middle of the night).

There is great individual variation in cramping - both between individuals experiencing the same conditions, and over time by an individual experiencing the same conditions.

There is no 1 solution to cramping, and many professional athletes continue to suffer cramping despite the assistance of Sports Doctors, Exercise Physiologists, Dieticians and Trainers.

The application of salt (in tablets or drinks) may help some individuals who have a low dietary salt intake, sometimes. However, if the cause of the cramp is not due to low electrolyte levels, electrolytes would probably not assist.

1 comment:

Adrian said...

Hi Simon,

I read your blog with great interest and agree with much of what you say. I was however wondering if you have tried a sports drink concentrate called elete, which is specifically designed for optimum hydration. Indeed, an independent peer reviewed study indicated that when using elete™, 40% less water is needed to hydrate properly. (A copy of the full report is on our website

I have to declare an interest as I am a Director of MRI (UK) Ltd which has the European distribution rights for elete. However, I am absolutely convinced elete is the most effective hydration product on the market.

I would very much like to send you a bottle or two to try free of charge if this would be agreeable to you, just contact me at with your details and will have some sent to you.

If you are interested in learning more about elete please visit our website at which has lots of information about elete, how it works and the science behind it etc.

I also set out below a summary of the key information about elete:

The reason for elete’s its effectiveness is that it contains four electrolytes (magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride) each in totally ionic form, combined with 70 trace and ultra-trace minerals which are also valuable nutrients. Together this provides a solution which contains all the minerals necessary for proper hydration. No other sports/hydration products contain this mix of electrolytes and trace elements.

As well as hydrating remarkably well, elete™ prevents and halts cramping very effectively (I think you will find that magnesium is very important in this regard) and it can also enhance energy production and maintain mental focus.

elete™ is derived from the inland sea water from the Great Salt Lake in Utah. It is 100% natural, has zero calories, zero carbs, zero sugar or sweeteners, no additives of any sort - it is simply the electrolytes above plus the trace and ultra- trace elements and water.

It comes in a concentrated form and is just added to water, juice, any drink or food (hot or cold). It can be added to other sports nutrition products such as carb drinks or gels or protien mixes.

The price is also cheaper than any other product on the market - a 25ml at £6.49 pocket bottle makes up 20 x 500ml drinks , making a cost per drink of only 32.5p.

I notice that you are a member of the Tri-Anglia Triathlon Club and I would be very happy to send some samples for members to try out if that would be agreeable.

I hope to hear from you

All the best

Adrian Shaw

MRI (UK) Ltd
Tel: +44 1483 271291
Mobile: +44 797 9900733