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The secrets of sweat: developing a hydration powder

Sweat. It’s not the most glamorous subject. But for nutritionists, sweat is a goldmine of data and information – you can tell an awful lot about an athlete from analysing just a few drops. So that’s exactly where we started when it came to developing our very own Hydration Powder.

The importance of sodium

Some athletes are salty sweaters – they’ll get salt crystals forming on their clothes and their sweat stings their eyes. Others don’t lose as much salt, but without a proper sodium test, it’s difficult to be totally accurate. Either way, sodium is crucial to proper hydration. Around 60% of your body is made up of water. And a third of that exists outside of your cells in extracellular fluid (e.g. your blood). The main electrolyte in this extracellular fluid is sodium, which helps the body retain fluid and also helps the gut to absorb nutrients. So it’s really important.

“Sodium helps your body to retain fluid – getting the right amount is crucial to staying properly hydrated.”

How to work out your sweat rate

The amount of fluid you need during exercise depends on many factors, including your sweat rate. But it’s not difficult to work out and will help you better understand your body so you can prepare properly. You’ll need to weigh yourself before and after exercise, factoring in the weight of any fluid/food you consumed (and if you went to the toilet). Here’s an example:

  • A player weighs 80kg pre exercise and 78kg post exercise. They also consumed 500ml of fluid and the exercise was 2 hours long.
  • So in total they lost 2.5kg through sweat over 2 hours, providing a sweat rate of 1.25l per hour (2.5kg divided by 2hrs)
  • Ideally, this individual would consume at least 1l of fluid per hour with electrolytes to prevent any drop in performance.

Even top athletes don’t get it right

Hydration is probably the easiest element of nutrition – but it’s surprising how many athletes don’t get it right. Research suggests that many team sport athletes start a match or training session in a dehydrated state, but it’s actually pretty simple to check. The colour of your urine is usually a good way of telling whether you’re properly hydrated or not – it should be straw-like (but bear in mind that some food can affect the colour)! 

So what’s in Blue Fuel’s Hydration Powder?

It’s tough to know precisely the amount of electrolytes you’ll need before, during and after exercise. That’s why we include 350mg of sodium in our Hydration Powder – to make sure we cover as many individual athletes as possible. We used sweat sodium data from the Chelsea FC players and all the available hydration research to choose this as the ideal dose for team sport athletes. We also made sure it mixes really well (so you don’t have to spend ages shaking up your bottle) and there are two flavours to choose from – Orange or Lemon.

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