Electrolyte add-ins: Elete, Nuun, CamelBak Elixir - SNEWS

Electrolyte add-ins: Elete, Nuun, CamelBak Elixir

Once upon a time if an athlete or workout enthusiast wanted or needed electrolytes such as sodium or potassium, he or she had three choices: Gatorade, Gatorade, or a pinch of table salt in some other beverage. But several companies are pushing the envelope, expanding options for those who work out intensely, for long periods, in extremely hot or humid weather, or for those who are just plain “salty sweaters” and may need a few more electrolytes.
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Once upon a time if an athlete or workout enthusiast wanted or needed electrolytes such as sodium or potassium, he or she had three choices: Gatorade, Gatorade, or a pinch of table salt in some other beverage.

But several companies are pushing the envelope, expanding options for those who work out intensely, for long periods, in extremely hot or humid weather, or for those who are just plain “salty sweaters” and may need a few more electrolytes.

>> Elete

Elete is a clear, colorless, sugar-free, tasteless (mostly…more on that later), additive- and flavoring-free liquid that a user adds by drops to water or other beverages to transform any liquid into an electrolyte-infused drink.

The SNEWS® team has tried it and has found that some users are sensitive to a slightly metallic taste, depending on the amount added, while others sense no taste or mouth feel. Because of the electrolytes in the clear liquid, once the bottles sit for a short period of time, liquid residue left on the screw-on cap crystallizes. Not that the crunchy crystals really harm anything but they do indicate a user better make sure the bottles are screwed down tightly, otherwise you’d end up with a bottle of crystals from evaporated liquid.

The beauty is being able to add it to anything and not being forced to drink it separately or mix-in special powders, pills or potions. The disadvantage for really high-performance or long-endurance athletes is the quantity of sodium, which may not be enough in some cases: One liter of fluid (about a quart or four cups) with Elete added in has 125 milligrams of sodium, 45 milligrams of magnesium, 130 milligrams of potassium, and 390 milligrams of chloride. Most athletes won’t drink more than about 16 ounces an hour, perhaps up to 30 or 40 in truly extreme situations, meaning that if you rely on Elete you may only get 60-80 milligrams of sodium an hour – not enough for endurance or long-distance events unless it is supplemented in other ways.

In our team’s adventures where we tried Elete, from hiking to ultra-running to biking, we found it served as a reasonable addition but wasn’t enough to rely on for sufficient electrolytes. It may be just fine for a fitness athlete or one doing shorter adventures. Nevertheless, it’s still a nice, tasteless, sugar-free alternative. Personal taste and delivery preferences will likely help make a decision.

SNEWS® Rating: 3.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)

Suggested Retail: Pocket Bottle (makes 10, 32-ounce servings) $5; Economy refill (makes 48 gallons) $35

For more information: www.eletewater.com

>> Nuun

We were a tad suspicious at first of fizzy tabs the size and shape of Alka-Seltzer that foamed up in water bottles, cups and reservoirs to make water into a powerful electrolyte drink. Call us impatient, but the several minutes we had to wait before closing a bottle or capping a reservoir while the bubbles released was more than we thought we could handle – let alone could afford at a race aid station -- and we had been told to wait so the container wouldn’t fill with pressure.

What we discovered, however, is that the ease of adding a tab to a water bottle wasn’t so bad and if you were in a hurry to get out the door or move through an aid station, you could “burp” the bottle or reservoir a few minutes later with a quick suck on the nozzle or a release of the cap.

Nuun (“noon”), first introduced in early 2006 to the outdoor industry and the first of the fizzy tab electrolyte add-ins, comes in tabs that are designed to be added to a 16-ounce bottle (although our team has found that adding it to a 20- to 22-ounce bottle helps dilute the flavor just a bit and is more palatable. But that’s a personal preference. You can also doctor another beverage if you want, such as a non-electrolyte juice.

The tabs come in four calorie-free flavors – citrus, lemon-lime, tri-berry and kona cola, the last of which also has a small dose of caffeine. We liked the cola and citrus flavors, but in all cases found it much tastier and easier to quaff when it was chilled, i.e. put into a bottle or reservoir also filled with ice when possible. In fact, the cola with caffeine when chilled tasted like a cola beverage, but when it warmed up tasted like a can of Coke that had sat open in the sun too long and gone flat. We also liked the citrus flavor the best. But, as always, all of the above is personal preference.

One tab provides a good dose of electrolytes including 360 milligrams of sodium, 25 milligrams of magnesium, and 100 milligrams of potassium, as well as 12.5 milligrams of calcium, a dash of vitamin C and 500 mcg of vitamin B2. There is no choloride. We liked the light flavor and in fact enjoyed being able to make a drink out of plain water. Although great for harder-core athletes or endeavors, the quantity of sodium could be too much for casual fitness enthusiasts but one could break it in half for a smaller dose.

Although they are sugar-free, and therefore don’t promote of gross fuzzy stuff in reservoirs and bottles, they do use acesulfame potassium and sorbitol as sweeteners. There are also other additives, such as citric acid, as well as natural colors and flavors and stuff that makes it fizz.

All in all, this is a good and transportable option for electrolyte needs. Personal taste and delivery preferences will likely help make a decision.



SNEWS® Rating:
4 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)

Suggested Retail: $6.50 for a 12-tab tube, each designed for 16 ounces (coming soon will be so-called “Big Nuun” at $13 with larger tabs, each designed for 32 ounces). In both cases that is 3.38 cents per ounce (This nano-comparison is important when you compare the next write-up with this.)

For more information: www.nuun.com

>> CamelBak Elixir

From the makers of the first backpack hydration system come similar fizzy tabs, on the market in May 2007.

The same discussion as above applies: We were unsure of the wait needed for fizzy tabs but found it all worked out and kept us happy.

These tabs, coming from a reservoir maker, of course are designed for reservoirs and each is made to go into 24 ounces of water or other liquid of choice. We found that a bit limiting at times when we were headed out with just one bottle. Ultimately, we snapped a tab into a smaller chunk to make it work, which seemed a bit silly but did work. Of course, if you are using a reservoir system, the larger size makes more sense since you can use 2 or 3 or 4 tabs in common sizes pretty easily.

There is no sugar so the tabs will not promote the growth of gross stuff in reservoirs or bottles. These come in one flavor – lemon-lime – which is of course a pretty popular flavor, but can be a limitation if lemon-lime doesn’t float your boat. The SNEWS® team felt it was tangy and fresh-tasting, but tasted better when chilled.

These too provide a hearty dose of electrolytes for serious athletic endeavors – perhaps an overload for more casual workouts – including 410 milligrams of sodium, 18 milligrams of magnesium, 70 milligrams of potassium, and 68 milligrams of chloride. In addition, there is a small amount of calcium, manganese and vitamin C. As sweeteners, these include acesulfame potassium, sorbitol and sucralose. You’ll also find natural flavors and citric acid.

These too are a good, transportable option for making water or other liquid into an electrolyte drink. Personal taste and delivery preferences will likely help make a decision.

SNEWS® Rating: 4 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)



Suggested Retail:
$10 for a 12-tab tube, each designed for 24 ounces. This comes to 3.47 cents per ounce. (This nano-comparison is important when you compare the write-up, above, with this.)

For more information: www.camelbak.com 

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