If you want to sustain optimal hydration during intense exercise, such as running or cycling, drinking water is not enough. You also need minerals.
Minerals are a common ingredient in energy gels. The minerals, which become electrolytes in your blood stream, are responsible for most body functions and are directly related to proper hydration.
The essential minerals are:
- Sodium chloride (salt)
Unfortunately, many energy gels lack one or more of these minerals or contain the wrong concentration of these minerals, which can lead to poor absorption, digestive issues, and inadequate hydration.
The best concentration of minerals in your energy gel respects the concentration of minerals (electrolytes) you lose in your sweat during exercise.
How much sodium chloride should an energy gel contain?
Sodium chloride aka salt is one of the minerals you lose most in sweat during exercise. The average amount of sodium chloride you lose per hour of intense exercise is 1000 mg, but this number can range from 500 mg to as high as 2000 mg.
For optimal hydration during exercise, your energy gel should contain at least 150 mg of sodium chloride per gel. This way, under the condition you consume 4 energy gels per hour, you can replace the minimum amount of salt lost with sweat during exercise.
How much potassium should an energy gel contain?
Potassium is another mineral that you lose a lot of in sweat, and the amount ranges from 150 to 500 mg per hour.
Furthermore, potassium is required to store glucose as muscle and liver glycogen, so if you are intaking carbohydrates without potassium, you will further deplete the potassium levels in your system.
Unfortunately, many energy gels do not contain potassium at all. Potassium depletion can lead to several negative effects of potassium deficiency, such as cramps, muscle weakness, and fatigue.
Under the condition that you consume 4 energy gels per hour, your energy gel should contain at least 50 mg of potassium.
How much calcium should an energy gel contain?
Calcium is not as important as sodium chloride and potassium, but you still lose about 1 mg of calcium per kg of body weight with sweat during exercise.
If your energy gel doesn't contain calcium, it's not the end of the world, but anywhere from 20 to 50 mg of calcium per gel should do the trick.
How much magnesium should an energy gel contain?
Magnesium is one of the most controversial minerals in energy gels. It has been widely advertised as the mineral that prevents muscle cramps, and many athletes still use it for that purpose.
Many studies dispute that fact, and it seems magnesium is not related to muscle cramps at all.
What we know for certain is that magnesium has a laxative effect. For this reason, consuming too much magnesium, especially during cycling or running, seems like a bad idea to us.
Oh, by the way, the amount of magnesium you lose in sweat is very low, somewhere between 3 and 5 mg per hour. So, if your energy gel contains more than a few mg of magnesium, we do not recommend it!
Best energy gel for optimal hydration in sports
If you're looking to replace all the minerals you lose in your sweat during intense exercise, such as cycling, running, or triathlon, look no further than Nduranz's Nrgy Unit Gel.
Nrgy Unit Gel is designed to fuel high-intensity exercise. In addition to 45 grams of carbohydrates in a combination of glucose and fructose in the 1:0.8 ratio, this bad boy contains the Nduranz Electrolyte Mix, an advanced mix of minerals designed to replace exactly the minerals you lose in sweat.