Bring me your sweaty, overheated, chronically dehydrated, weary, and weak. Bring them to me and I shall bestow upon them a great and lasting gift, a gift of salty goodness, and improved performance. I share with you, friends, Skratch Hyper Hydration, the latest genius creation of Dr. Allen Lim, Ian McGregor, and the Skratch Labs team.
Many people don’t need a “hyper-hydration” product and that’s great. For sweaty, dehydrated, sufferpigs like me, though, this is the best nutrition/energy/performance product I’ve ever used. Period. No joke. Zero embellishment.
Because this stuff drop-kicks dehydration in the nutsack and makes you feel like a champ along the way. Forget Chuck Norris. Think you and Jet Li partying in a women’s prison with a fistful of pardons and Fatboy Slim spinning the event. THAT’S how good you feel…
OK, extreme enthusiasm in check, so let’s get down to business. If you’ve ever had the sense you just can’t keep up with your hydration while riding, running, climbing, skiing…then Skratch’s Hyper Hydration might be for you. (Henceforth I’m not capitalizing hyper hydration, as Skratch Labs’ packaging does not.)
“If you’re the type of person who knows you suffer (from dehydration), then you’d be a candidate to use this drink,” says Dr. Allen Lim, Skratch founder.
I first had the inkling I might sweat more than the normal guy when I started doing yoga. These were the days before “hot” yoga, but nonetheless, I’d soak my mat like I was having an anxiety attack in Guam. People (OK–mostly women) would stare. I was the class pariah, the chubby, sweaty guy in the corner, with tight legs and pools of sweat around his mat. Yuck.
But anyway. Fast forward years later and when I heard Dr. Lim had pioneered this drink, I demanded a sample. And he delivered. Hyper hydration is all-natural, just like Skratch’s exercise hydration mix, and flavored only with dried fruit. No colors, no artificial flavors. Skratch products only use sodium citrate, too, rather than the cheap sodium chloride found in junky products. I dropped by the Lab and snagged a dozen single-serving packets. Each one makes a 16-ounce hydration bomb.
Now, before you demand your sample, listen to Dr. Lim, “If you’re a person who’s never had a problem…with your hydration, you probably don’t need this drink. If you have to ask yourself if you need it, you’re probably not the person who needs it.” Hyper hydration packs far more sodium per liter than “regular” sports drinks. Especially if your doc has told you to avoid salt in your diet, double check with her or him that this is for you.
For those of us, though, who feel wrecked after a huge day or during extreme heat, hyper hydrating makes sense.
“This product was originally designed to help people pre-hydrate before extreme events,” explains Lim. “Essentially the basic goal is to find people who are in a situation in which they know they’re going to be sweating more than they can drink.”
Lim says a 1.5- to 2-percent loss of body weight through fluid will negatively affect “your ability to perform, neurologically,” so things like reaction time, quickness, and mood go downhill. Add to that decreased aerobic capacity and cardiac output and bottom line is, you feel terrible and you perform terribly, too. Bummer.
“For example,” Lim explains, “Someone in a NASCAR vehicle, at 160 degrees Fahrenheit, could be losing three to four liters an hour. They’re gonna be in that car for three hours, they could potentially lose nine liters of fluid.”
Funny Lim should mention the NASCAR guys because at present several of the biggest teams in the sport are using his products, including hyper hydration. Keep in mind some of these guys are sponsored (six- and seven-figure sponsorships!) by drink manufacturers and they’re secretly using his stuff.
Most of us aren’t NASCAR drivers, though. Do we still need it? “We’re not making any assumptions about whether or not someone needs to bump up to this product,” answers Lim. “We don’t intend it or recommend that people use this product on a daily basis.”
But for your biggest, meanest, hottest, hardest days, hyper hydration is where it’s at. Is it all in my head, though?
“What we’ve found,” says Lim, “is that this works great for scenarios like you’re about to fight a wildland fire and you can only carry so much water. It works great for a time trial where you’re not going to be able to reach for a bottle. It works great for a cyclo-cross race type of event. The reason it works great is that not only do you have extra fluid, that extra fluid increases your cardiac output. It increases the amount of blood your heart can pump per stroke and even though it doesn’t change your red-blood-cell concentration, by the mere fact that you can push more fluid and blood, you can deliver more oxygen and you do a better job of cooling the body. And you have more of a water reserve for sweat to also cool the body.”
Lim boils the physiology down to this: “The concentration of sodium in this drink is the same as normal blood (3.5g/L), if you’re dehydrated, this will more likely stay in your body, rather than be filtered by your kidneys and peed out.”
As the body’s kidneys detect less sodium in the bloodstream (sodium concentrations decrease as one dehydrates), the body gets rid of water more easily in an effort to maintain its desired sodium concentration (3.5g/L). Skratch’s hyper hydration formula enters the body at 3.5g/L so it’s absorbed more easily and tends to stay in the body, rather than get excreted by the kidneys and urinary tract.
I’ve used the product six or seven times now, on days when I knew I would be moving for five or more hours (guiding and going big in the mountains!). My initial observation was that I didn’t pee for the first several hours of my day–this is unusual for me, because I usually drink a ton of fluids in the morning, because I know I’ll be sweating a ton over the course of my outing. With hyper hydration, though, it seems my body tends to retain the fluid it has over the course of the first few hours of exercise. I also drink a bit less than normal, which means I can carry a bit less water–a good thing for climbing.
I haven’t yet experimented with drinking another 16-ounce serving of hyper hydration during my day, but I’m headed to the Cascades for my final American Mountain Guides Association course. This will be the perfect proving ground, because some of the days can be 12 or more hours, making it impossible to carry enough water, but critically important to stay hydrated and comfortable. Stay tuned.
Skratch Labs hyper hydration will be available at specialty retailers (bike and run shops, etc.) soon (more info on where to buy HERE). The down side is…it ain’t cheap. At three bucks a serving, it’s a significant cost to your workout/nutrition budget. Full disclosure, Dr. Lim gives me a discount, but I’m going to pay for more and I’d pay full retail, too. It works that well and I feel that much better during a workout. For long, hot, tough days, I feel stronger and have a way better mental state (I’m not joking) throughout my effort. If you’re a candidate for hyper hydration, then give it a whirl once it’s on shelves. I bet you’ll think it’s a bargain. Bravo, Skratch!
Read more about Skratch Labs HERE.
Rob Coppolillo is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado. He’s the author of Holy Spokes: A Biking Bible for Everyone and a contributing editor at Elevation Outdoors. He’s also an AMGA/IFMGA aspirant guide in the rock, alpine, and ski disciplines, as well as an AIARE 1, 2, and 3 avalanche professional.