Salt capsules 101: what, why & when?


by Marewa Sutherland March 12, 2019

Have you considered adding salt capsules into your training or racing nutrition plan?

Salt capsules (also called electrolyte capsules, or mineral salts) are designed to take during exercise to not only help prevent cramp, but also help performance right down to cellular level.  Here is everything you need to know to get the most out of using them. 

 

What's in electrolyte capsules?

They are comprised of mineral salts (electrolytes) that we naturally lose when we sweat. The predominant electrolyte is sodium followed by potassium, magnesium and calcium.

 

Why would I use electrolyte capsules?

The most common reason for use is cramp prevention, however electrolyte capsules help replace the salts lost while sweating. They also help to hydrate you by drawing water from your stomach into your body and into your cells. On a cellular level, these electrolytes literally allow your muscles to move so you can get from start to finish.  Many people also report of feeling less fatigued during training & racing when they use electrolyte capsules.

 

How do I know if I need additional salt in my nutrition plan? 

Without getting too scientific, there a few simple ways to see if you require more salts in your training/racing nutrition. Firstly, check the colour of your urine first thing in the morning;  if it appears dark in colour (and you drink plenty of fluids) then you may have an electrolyte imbalance.

The amount you sweat and salt concentrations differ between people, but a quick way to self-check is to simply lick your sweat! If it tastes very salty you more than likely require electrolytes (or larger amounts of these) during exercise. Cramp is another area that can be caused by insufficient electrolyte delivery during exercise, however, don't forget other factors can lead to this such as how trained (or lack thereof) your muscles are for exercise demands. 

 

When do I use electrolyte capsules?

Electrolyte capsules can be used before and during training or racing, and also to help general hydration.  You can preload on electrolytes leading up to your event, however I would recommend only considering this in events that are over 2-3 hours in duration or for events in hot conditions.

The quantity required prior to racing differs based on individual requirements and dietary intake of salts, so if you're unsure on your own needs it may be worth checking in with a professional dietitian/sports nutritionist.

During exercise, we recommend taking one PURE Electrolyte Capsule every 30 minutes with water. They are designed to be taken in addition to a sports drink, such as PURE Electrolyte Hydration, which also contain high amounts of electrolytes. Electrolyte capsules can also help hydrate your body generally, which is great for aiding situations such as hangovers and jet lag. 

 

Do they have energy in them? 

No, electrolyte capsules are energy free which means they are a zero-carbohydrate option of electrolyte replacement.  Sometimes people prefer this for lighter training periods or shorter sessions. 

 

Are they dissolvable? 

Yes, but they shouldn't be. Mineral salts do not always have the most pleasant taste, so being encapsulated (ours are vegan-friendly) it allows you to quickly swallow your required dosage in a tasteless form, and let it do its job at a cellular level.  

 

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Marewa Sutherland
Marewa Sutherland

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