Late last year I started using Gatorade’s G2 low-calorie sports drink for most of my rides—they sold a container of eight individual packages of drink mix and it suited my needs perfectly. However, I’ve noticed that in the last few weeks the pre-packaged power mix has been on “clearance” at several stores and no longer available at other stores. I don’t know if the folks at Gatorade are ready to drop this product or just come up with a better marketing plan for their products (it would be hard for them to devise a worse marketing plan than the one they are using). As a result, I have looked for a new drink mix powder for my rides and decided to try Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix.
Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix was developed by Allen Lim, PhD, a sport scientist and coach for a professional cycling team (Garmin). He created this product “from scratch” because he thought he could improve on the usual pre-packaged hydration products that were already on the market.
A 16-ounce serving of this mix has 80 calories and provides 20 grams of carbohydrates, along with 60mg of calcium, 45mg of magnesium, 310mg of sodium and 40mg of potassium. The ingredients list is fairly simple: Sucrose, glucose, sodium citrate, potassium citrate, calcium citrate, magnesium, and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). As you can see, the mix from Skratch Labs provides less sugar and more electrolytes than other sports drinks.
Back when I was in high school (when the earth was still cooling and dinosaurs roamed the earth) the coaches would pass out both salt and potassium tablets to the athletes on hot days. Any coach that does this today needs to be fired on the spot! Sodium and potassium need to be taken in the right proportions or you can cause a great deal of harm.
The Exercise Hydration Mix comes in several flavors, including: Lemon & Limes, Raspberries, Oranges, and Pineapple. I bought a variety pack that included all the flavors except Pineapple. While I liked all of them, the Raspberry was my favorite—the flavor is not overpowering, but it is a very crisp and refreshing drink.
You can buy the Exercise Hydration Mix in either one or two-pound packages, or as single-serving individual packages. A package of 20 single serving sticks retails for $19.50, which is considerably more expensive than single-serving packages of Gatorade.
While I really like the flavor the Exercise Hydration Mix I am not sure I can recommend it for cyclists. The problem is not the ingredients or the price, but rather the packaging! The single-serving individual packages are designed for 16-ounce bottles, and nearly every water bottle in the world that fits in a bicycle water bottle cage is 20-ounces. In addition, if you buy bottled water at a convenience store it is probably going to come in a 20-ounce bottle. For the life of me I can’t figure out why Skratch Labs is marketing such a fine product in such a horrible size!
I am a distance cyclist and often have trouble making two 20-ounce bottles last between opportunities to refill them, and there is no way on earth I want to go out for a ride with 16-ounce bottles. It is normally recommended that cyclists drink 16 to 20 ounces of fluid per hour while riding. On hot and humid days when the heat index is over 110 degrees I’ve been known to drink twice that amount. I could just dilute the powder with more water, but that ruins the taste.
Here is the bottom line: If you can survive with 16-ounce bottles then the Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix is worth trying. Buying this product by the pound will allow you to leave home with two full bottles in whatever size you want, but if you want to refill 20-ounce bottles while on the road you should to look for another product.