Electrolytes & Hydration

By Vishal Patel

Hydration is a key element every athlete must be aware of, and if you’re reading our blog then you probably already know that. But you may not know that what you hydrate with is just as crucial as any other nutritional strategy you take on to improve your performance. A sports drink that is easily metabolized will help with hydration, but electrolytes are the key. For optimal hydration choose a beverage that is easily tolerated and digested, but most importantly, one that has a well-balanced electrolyte profile.

But what do electrolytes do?

Electrolytes are tiny particles that carry electrical charges. They serve many roles to help the body maintain proper function. When you sweat, electrolytes play key roles in keeping water balanced both inside & outside of cells so that your muscles and organs can continue to serve you properly (1).

When you're active in a warm climate, you lose more fluid and electrolytes through your sweat.

When you’re active in a warm climate, you lose more fluid and electrolytes through your sweat.

So, why are electrolytes important?

When you sweat your body loses both fluid and electrolytes. If you don’t begin your workout properly hydrated, and/or you aren’t hydrated properly during your activity, dehydration can occur through the act of sweating.

Dehydration has several negative impacts on athletic performance, and perhaps you’ve even experienced extreme consequences such as muscle cramps and fatigue. But even if you don’t feel a difference, as little as 2% dehydration can result in a decrease in performance. Remember thirst is the #1 indicator that you may be dehydrated.

Replenishing electrolytes via sports drink helps to replenish your mineral losses; but electrolytes also help make the most of your water, which is the key to proper hydration. Sports drinks high in sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium can help retain fluids, and proper fluid balance contributes to optimal performance.

Sodium (Na) – Maintains Fluid Balance

Sodium is the most important electrolyte to monitor during training. Excessive losses of sodium (via sweat) can lead to muscle cramps, and in some cases hyponatremia (low blood sodium) – both can lead to a decrease in performance, and can cause major health complications (2). Sodium is critical for maintaining fluid balance, nerve function, muscle contractions, and acid-base balance (2).  Sodium losses in sweat are greater than any other electrolyte. Therefore, it is crucial to maintain an adequate balance, both during your activity and after.

Potassium (K) – Prevents Cramping

Potassium in conjunction with sodium helps alleviate and prevent muscle cramps (2). Potassium is abundant in many food sources, and the average individual has high stores within the body. In sweat, potassium losses are not as high as sodium. Therefore, making it highly unlikely that losses in potassium (alone) can cause a decrease in performance. With that said, it is still crucial to maintain potassium levels while training as it will be critical for a healthy water & electrolyte balance.

Calcium (Ca) – Regulates Muscle Contractions & Heart Rhythm

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body (2). It serves many roles both in normal bodily functions, and athletic performance.  When calcium is circulating within the bloodstream it has a major impact on metabolism of essential nutrients, and proper physiological functions. It is well documented that calcium is essential for bone and muscle health. Calcium is also involved in all types of muscle (heart, skeletal, and smooth) functions and contractions (1). And lastly, calcium is involved in the synthesis and breakdown of muscle and liver glycogen (fuel stores)(2).

Magnesium (Mg) – Relaxes Muscles

Similar to how sodium and potassium function together, magnesium and calcium do the same. Calcium is essential for muscle contractions; magnesium aids in helping muscles relax (1). Therefore, the combination of magnesium and calcium is critical for healthy muscle function. Magnesium also aids in glucose metabolism, and it used in many enzymatic reactions (3).

Bicarbonates – May Delay Fatigue & Enhance Endurance

Sodium bicarbonate is an interesting nutrient that has some compelling theories behind its use for athletic performance. One of the key benefits of having fluids that contain sodium bicarbonate is that it buffers lactic acid in the blood. During training lactic acid builds up which stresses the anaerobic glycolysis energy system (2). When this energy system becomes disrupted, the acid accumulations inhibit muscle contractions, which leads to fatigue (2). Some research has shown that Sodium Bicarbonate intake can help delay the onset of fatigue, and enhance endurance capacity. Whether or not this phenomenon works, it can’t help but to find sports drinks that contain this nutrient.

How much Nuun does ambassador Jim need? It depends on quite a few factors!

How much Nuun does ambassador Jim need? It depends on quite a few factors!

How much do I need?

Several factors come into play when determining electrolyte losses such as: fitness level, activity duration, and environmental factors. During conditions in which both temperatures and humidity are high, the body works harder, thus increasing internal body temperature (thermoregulation). With this increase, the body needs to release heat (through sweat), and electrolytes can be lost at a greater rate.  During strenuous activities in which sweat rates may be greater, or the duration is longer it is essential to replace electrolytes through fluids, and be aware of signs of dehydration.

Daily requirements for these mineral vary on gender, age, and in some cases, fitness activity level/duration. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has set standards for each of these minerals (4).

For both males and females it is recommended to keep sodium intake below 2,000 mg. However, during training session’s athletes should look to replace sodium stores through electrolyte-rich beverages, as well as, replace loss stores during recovery.

Potassium recommendation for males and females are 4,700 mg per day.  Potassium is rich in many foods, and will not need additional supplementing. However, intake in potassium during training can help maintain water and electrolyte balance.

Magnesium intake for males should be between 330-350 mg per day, and females should intake about 255-265 mg per day. However, hot and humid conditions can cause magnesium store to be excreted via sweat at higher rates so more must be replenished.

Calcium is essential, and is found in many food items. The suggested intake is 800 mg per day for both males and females.

To get a specific measurement of how much to drink we recommend you take a sweat test.

Nuun helps your body make the most of the water you drink.

Nuun helps your body make the most of the water you drink.

How do Nuun Electrolyte Enhanced Drink-tabs help?

  • Nuun contains an optimal blend of electrolytes (Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, Sodium Bicarbonate)
  • Tabs provide an adequate electrolyte profile to help you perform your best (Sodium: 360 mg, Potassium: 100 mg, Magnesium: 25 mg, Calcium: 12.5 mg)
  • Nuun has no sugars, so it’s more palatable and under 8 calories
  • The light, refreshing taste makes it easier on the stomach during activities
  • Effervescent tablets can be conveniently carried anywhere on the go
  • There are twelve different flavors, three with caffeine for an added boost



Additional Resources:
  1. Clark, N. (2008). Sports nutrition guidebook. 4th  ed., Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
2. Ryan, M. (2012).  Sports nutrition for endurance athletes. 3rd ed. Boulder, CO: VeloPress
3. Fink, H.H, Burgoon, L.A, Mikesky, A.E. (2009). Practical applications in sports nutrition. 2nd          ed., pp 220-254.        Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, LLC.
4. Institute of Medicine (IOM) DRI’s for Micronutrients:            http://www.iom.edu/Activities/Nutrition/SummaryDRIs/~/media/Files/Activity%20Files/Nutrition/DRIs/5_Summary%20Table%20Tables%201-4.pdf

Winter Hydration for Health

By Vishal Patel

We can’t stress enough how important it is to pay attention to your hydration status.  Not just in the winter months, but throughout the year! Taking in the right amount of fluids is not just important for athletes, but for everyone who wants to feel healthy and at their best.

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How much should I drink to stay healthy?

We wrote a blog post a couple months back addressing fluid intake among children. The study highlighted in the blog pointed out that children have an alarmingly low intake of fluids, but the same can be said in regards to adults! The Institute of Medicine (IOM) states that healthy males should intake about 115 ounces of water per day, and healthy women should aim for about 104 ounces of water per day (2). These recommendations don’t change just because it’s colder outside, and in fact cold weather can dehydrate you more quickly than more mild temperatures.

We recommend that you track your fluid intake at least a few days per week to monitor how close you’re getting to the average goal.

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Why is hydration so important even when I’m not active?

Drinking enough water or healthy beverages can contribute greatly to your overall health. Water can help speed up absorption of many nutrients. It can also help boost your immune system, which is crucial during the winter months. It can prevent any decreases in energy, and there is strong evidence indicating water can help decrease the risk of many chronic diseases (1).

Water can be boring, so one up your water with Nuun!

It can be difficult to find a drink that is truly healthy, and that provides essential nutrients without the sugars. And we know as well as you do, water can get boring.

Nuun has 3 different products to help you stay hydrated day in and day out, whether it’s a long day on the bike or in the office.

Nuun Active Hydration, our flagship product, is best for pre, during, and post-sports and intense activity. But when your electrolytes are topped off – or for health reasons – sometimes you want fewer electrolytes and more essential vitamins and minerals.

So what’s the best healthy hydration choice for a long day of travel, meetings, or between training sessions when you want fluids but don’t need electrolytes?

Nuun IS Hydration – Nuun All Day

How does All Day differ from out Active Hydration Line?

  • Nuun All Day contains 18 all-natural vitamins and minerals
  • With a minimal emphasis on electrolytes, All Day contains an optimal blend of Vitamins A, B, C, D, E as well as, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, and Zinc.
  • Sweetened with all-natural Stevia, All Day yields a mere 7 calories per serving!

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Nuun’s Healthy Hydration Tips:

  • Keep a water bottle in your car, at your desk, etc – Easy reminder to drink up!
  • Aim for 12-16 oz of water during meals
  • Try NUUN All Day Grapefruit Orange instead of OJ in the mornings!
  • Drink 10-12 oz of water first thing in the morning – body gets slightly dehydrated during sleep
  • Be sure to re-hydrate with NUUN after long days of travel!
  • Monitor urine color – Best indicator on whether or not you are drinking enough, or too much; color should be pale, not clear or overly yellow
  • Don’t force the habit, let an increase in fluid consumption come naturally
Additional Resources:
1. Popkin B, D’Anci K, Rosenberg I. Water, hydration and health. Nutr Review 2010. August; 68(8) 439-458.
2. Institute of Medcine, DRI’s for Water: http://www.iom.edu/~/media/Files/Activity%20Files/Nutrition/DRIs/DRI_Electrolytes_Water.pdf

Nuun Team Spotlight – QT2 Systems

Our athletes, ambassadors, and teams are a large part of what makes being in sports hydration  so exciting and fulfilling for the Nuun family. Without being properly hydrated these groups couldn’t achieve their best results, and we’re humbled and proud that they choose to use Nuun as their hydration product of choice!


Team Name: QT2 Systems

Team Description: QT2 Systems is one of the world’s most successful and recognized triathlon racing teams with its Elite, Age Group Elite, and Advanced group athletes.  Due to the consistent and top performances of its age group and professional athletes, and strong industry partnerships the QT2 team is expected to be 180 strong in 2014. The QT2 Team is for any athlete who would like to take their racing to the next level with QT2′s dynamic coaches, and have the highest level of support, by staff dedicated to sponsorship, team events, and athlete representation. QT2 looks for dedicated athletes, willing to make the sacrifices necessary to be the best that they can be, regardless of ability level.

QT2 Systems Team Photo

Location: US Based – National

Sport: Triathlon

Favorite Nuun Flavor: Citrus Fruit

Number of Members: 160

Website/Facebook/Twitterwww.qt2systems.com – www.facebook .com/qt2systems – www.twitter.com/qt2systems

Why does the team like Nuun? It is low carb and high electrolyte, so is great for our athletes following training sessions where they may feel acutely dehydrated.  Plus, it makes plain water taste delicious!

Team Accomplishments: QT2 qualified 30 athletes to the 2013 Ironman World Championship including 5 professionals!  This contingent includes a very wide demographic of athlete ages and genders.

Winter Hydration Tips for Athletes

By Vishal Patel, Nuun Hydration Nutritionist


The New York City Marathon is usually a nice indication that fall is coming to an end, but as we shift gears into winter with athletes beginning their off-season programs it’s safe to say that many don’t stop training!

Should I hydrate less in the winter?

During the winter we hear a lot from our consumers that they tend to not drink as much water or Nuun as compared to summer months, and generally it’s due to the perception that we do not sweat as much when it’s colder. That theory may be true at times, however, many other factors come into play to determine how much fluid you need. For instance, winter air is cold and dry, that in turn will lead to an increase in thirst – a sign of dehydration.

Note: a mere 2% loss in body-water content has been noted to cause dehydration leading to a decrease in athletic performance.

But I feel like I sweat less in the winter!

Yes, in the winter it may seem as if you are not sweating as much. On top of dry air affecting your hydration status, the regulation of your internal body temperature (thermoregulation) has a tough time adjusting to the drastic changes.

The cold air triggers your body to try to reserve heat and maintain fluid balance by decreasing the release of heat (through sweat). But what we often forget is that runners tend to add layer upon layer of clothing to help keep the body warm. This increase of layers will cause your skin temperature to increase, which can lead to heat needing to be released (through sweat). So, in some instances we can actually sweat more due to winter layering and taking too drastic of an approach to stay warm.

Ways to balance the cold weather and your body temperature:

  • Shed layers after a thorough warm-up
  • Keep key areas covered and warm: your feet (this will be taken care of by the constant pounding), your ears (wear a hat or headband), and your hands (gloves!).


Hypothermia & Hydration

Hypothermia is a concern for athletes who partake in cold weather sports at high altitude. Mountain air is most difficult to breathe due to the very cold and very dry nature of air at altitude. But oftentimes the difficulty breathing is the result of a decrease in blood volume flowing freely through your heart and on to working muscles. Having proper fluid balance with electrolytes will help get blood to wear it needs to go, and help muscles function properly.

Air Humidity & Hydration

The last factor to take into account is the high levels of humidity in the mornings.  The combination of cold, dry air, and more moisture in the air will increase the occurrence of dehydration.  Knowing how much to drink is just as crucial as going into your workout adequately hydrated! The cardinal rule is to drink according to thirst, without exceeding 20 oz per hour. Also, it’s never a bad time to take a sweat test to determine your sweat loss.

Nuun’s Tips for Winter Hydration:

  • Have a hydration plan – carry a belt or stash some bottles along your route.
  • Be well hydrated prior to your activity – drink Nuun Active Hydration the night before/morning of your key workouts.
  • Aim to drink 3-4 liters of water per day – drink Nuun All Day packed with all-natural vitamins and minerals!
  • Be sure to include Nuun in your recovery regimen – have a glass of warm lemon tea post run. Bonus: caffeine has been known to enhance glycogen re-synthesis speeding up the recovery process
  • As always pay attention to signs and symptoms of dehydration and inadequate fluid stores. Post-run headaches, muscle cramping, and fatigue are all signals that your body needs water and electrolytes!