Without salts and other electrolytes, your body quickly starts to break down. Losing fluids through sweat can quickly deplete your body of electrolytes. When you sweat them out you need to replace them.
That’s easy with a regular water bottle(just grab a sports drink), but how do you replace electrolytes when using a hydration bladder? Luckily, you aren’t the first person to ask this question.
Here’s how I replace my electrolytes while using a hydration bladder. I have some natural electrolyte recipes down at the bottom if you don’t like artificial sweeteners.
Why are Electrolytes Important?
Magnesium, calcium, sodium, potassium and other electrolytes support the proper functioning of your cells/tissues. When you lose electrolytes through sweat, your body can’t properly transport nutrients and balance your ph levels.
If your body can’t transport nutrients it starts to shut down causing, muscle cramps, abdominal pain, mood swings and general malaise(mental uneasiness, lethargy and discomfort).
At some point, you’ve probably used sports drinks to boost your electrolytes. But they’re loaded with sugars and will quickly cause mold/bacteria growth in your hydration bladder. You need to find a low-sugar option that still has electrolytes.
How to Add Electrolytes to a Hydration Pack
Let me guess, you’ve been told to only use water with your hydration bladder. This is a common myth that’s been passed down for years. Modern bladders can withstand way more than models of decades past.
It’s easy to add electrolytes to your hydration pack. You just have to buy an electrolyte drink mix that doesn’t have a lot of sugar. There’s a bunch of different powdered and tablet drink mixes currently on the market. Salt, lemon, lime, pomegranate and ginger are natural electrolyte boosters.
Sugar Causes Bacteria and Mold Growth
Think about it, your pack is a damp, moist, and dark environment. It’s the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and mold growth. Bacteria and mold use sugar as fuel so choose powder/tablet drink mix that doesn’t have a lot of sugar.
Keep Your Pack/Bladder Cold
Add ice to your hydration bladder to keep your drink cold. Ice both makes your drink more palatable and significantly reduces bacterial growth. Just make sure your hydration bladder is properly insulated so your drinks stay cold.
Definitely consider buying one of those insulated cooler bags if you don’t already have one. They keep your bladder cold all day, for the price, you can’t beat it.
Use Tablets or Powdered Drink Mix
Unsurprisingly, Camelbak was one of the first companies to make drink tablets designed specifically for hydration bladders. They no longer make their Elixer drink mix, but a bunch of other companies started making generic versions. Personally, I prefer the Nuun Brand Electrolyte Tablets(some even have caffeine).
Have you ever taken alka-seltzer? It’s basically the same thing. Just drop the tablet in your hydration bladder in 2-3 minutes later it will be completely dissolved.
Since the tablets only have 1g of carb you have a little leeway with bacteria/mold build-up. You should still wash out your bladder after each use, but it’s going to take a couple days for serious growth.
Those tablets can be kind of pricey(about 50 cents each), but they sure are convenient. Go with a powdered drink mix if you want to save some money. Brands like Crystal Light and Pedialyte are time-proven electrolyte boosters.
Walmart, Dollar Tree and Dollar General all sell cheap individually wrapped powdered(on the go) drink mix. They normally cost 1$ for 10 tubes of generic mix or 6-8 tubes of name brand.
Just make sure the powdered mix has some sodium in it. Dedicated electrolyte products like Nuun and Pedialyte will obviously have more electrolytes, but a little bit goes a long way. You can always add a little bit of salt and lime juice to boost it up a bit.
Stick to Low-Calorie Drink Mix
High-calorie drink mix will almost always have more electrolytes, but it will also have more sugar. Unless you want to deal with bacteria/mold growth stick to low-calorie powders. Go with a powdered mix that’s 10 calories or less.
Natural Electrolyte Recipes
Some people don’t want to drink sugar substitutes. Luckily, citrus fruits are naturally rich in electrolytes and easily mix with water. For instance, lemon/lime juice includes calcium potassium, magnesium and salt.
That’s 4 out of your 5 total electrolytes, all you’re missing is phosphorous and chloride which is in most tap water.
Natural Low Sugar Electrolyte Sources
- Lime Juice
- Lemon Juice
- Coconut Water
- Grated Ginger
Simple Electrolyte Recipes
- Mix a half-cup low-sugar juice(lime, lemon, coconut) with 1-2 cups water
- Add a pinch of salt(sea salt provides 590mg of sodium per quarter teaspoon)
Harder(Double or Triple the Recipe to fill a hydration bladder)
- Combine all ingredients together
- 3 cups of mineral water
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- two tablespoons of agave nectar
- grated ginger
You can also add coconut water to any of these recipes to increase your Magnesium and Potassium levels.