Silence. That's all Dr. Allen Lim heard when he knew he had arrived at a solution. No longer were his Garmin riders complaining of the headaches and bloated stomachs that had plagued them for so long. Lim had spent countless hours mixing formulas in buckets to create not a product, but a solution that was informally dubbed Secret Drink Mix, or SDM. Why a secret? Because word had spread through the peloton that Lim had perfected a hydration solution that was effective and delicious, and it led to many pros pouring out the electrolyte-heavy, overly sweetened beverages provided by their sponsors and replacing it with Lim's contraband. Fortunately for us, the secret is out, and Lim is offering this pro-developed and battle-tested solution to the world. It's now called the Exercise Hydration Mix, from Lim's Boulder, Colorado-based Skratch Labs.
Unlike many sports drinks, which are formulated around electrolyte or caloric replenishment during physical exertion, the Exercise Mix focuses on keeping your body's sodium levels carefully regulated. Lim discovered that the rampant headaches plaguing his pro riders were not induced by a lack of fluids, but rather, a lack of sodium -- a very typical symptom of dehydration. Essentially, your kidneys regulate fluid retention based on the body's concentration of sodium. When sodium concentration is high, your body is forced to hold on to that fluid to dilute it. But when your sodium levels get too low (ie: through sweat loss), the opposite happens and your kidneys must expel that fluid.
Lim's mix is designed to keep your body's sodium balance carefully regulated, maintaining hydration while also slowing diuresis. With diuresis slowed, you'll be able to pre-hydrate and drink more before a race without needing to make those three inopportune bathroom breaks right before your call-up. If these concepts around a sodium-based formula sound familiar, that's because they are -- Lim's drink mix contains nearly four times the amount of sodium in many convenience-store sports drinks, putting it on par with emergency-grade rehydration salt formulas like Pedialyte, and those used by the World Health Organization to combat severe dehydration.
The athletes that helped Lim develop the Exercise Mix weren't just complaining of headaches. They were also suffering from severe stomach bloating and flavor fatigue. The second half of Lim's solution was to ensure his drink was easy and pleasurable to consume day in and day out. To accomplish this, every ingredient from the Exercise Mix is naturally occurring or naturally sourced from real fruit, which ensures you're not putting anything in your body that's been chemically formulated or enhanced. In short, if it wasn't here on this earth before you were, Dr. Lim and his team refused to use it.
The ingredients are: sucrose, glucose, sodium citrate, potassium citrate, calcium citrate, magnesium citrate, freeze dried fruit, citric acid (a natural preservation agent from pure lime juice), and ascorbic acid. Notice the pronounced absence of the 'natural flavors' found in so many other sports drinks. Part of what makes the Exercise Mix so uniquely palatable even during prolonged periods of exercise and constant re-hydration is the lack of a savoring agent. Generally, chemically-derived flavoring agents like those ominous 'natural flavors' tend to remain on your palate, causing flavor fatigue, and in larger doses, wreak havoc on your gut.
The Exercise Mix uses real lemons, limes, oranges, and raspberries, which are freeze-dried and pounded into powder. This creates a refreshing, super-clean flavor that's easy on your stomach without a lingering aftertaste that wears out its welcome halfway into your race. It means you're not just getting a 'flavor' of lemon or orange, you're getting actual lemons and oranges in the mix. This is one of the many fundamental breakthroughs behind the Skratch Labs drink mixes. Whether you're staying hydrated during a 24-hour endurance race, or re-hydrating after a grueling criterium, they simply taste great.
Lim and his team created two drink mixes, optimizing each for different levels of physical exertion. This Exercise Hydration Mix has a slightly higher salt content, making it Skratch Labs' on-bike mix, best used for periods when your heart rate is up and you're sweating. Because this mix has a supremely high absorption rate and is not a natural diuretic, it's excellent as a preventative measure against dehydration while you ride, when you stop at an aid station, or immediately after your workout or race, because you can drink a larger volume of it at a time without painful bloating. This is due in part to the drink's exceptionally low levels of acidity, and lack of chemically-enhanced flavors.
The Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix is available in Lemon Lime, Orange, or Raspberry. Each one-pound package should provide approximately twenty (23 grams dry), 500ml servings.