by Precision Hydration
Our multi-strength electrolyte supplements come in three different formats and the differences between them are something we're asked a lot. Here's the answer...
What do the numbers on the front of the packaging mean?
Our electrolyte supplements are available in four different strengths, indicated by the number on the front of the boxes, waterproof packets and tubes. The strengths refer to the amount of sodium the supplement contains per litre (~32oz). So, PH 250 and H2Pro 250 both contain 250mg of sodium per litre and so on up to 1,500mg/l.
The products contain other ingredients, including the other key electrolytes magnesium, potassium and calcium that you also lose in tiny amounts in your sweat, but it’s the sodium content that's really important for maintaining your performance and that differs significantly.
We offer these different strengths because the amount of sodium lost in sweat varies significantly from person to person, so a “one-size-fits-all” hydration drink just doesn’t make sense. We regularly Sweat Test athletes who lose as little as 200mg of sodium per litre of sweat and as much as 2,000mg/l.
I personally lose about 1,842mg/l (I say “about” because things like your diet, fitness level and heat acclimation status can cause slight variations), which puts me firmly in the “salty sweater” camp.
Which strengths are right for me?
Our exercise-free, Advanced Sweat Test tells you your sweat sodium concentration and we developed an algorithm-based free Online Sweat Test to give you a decent idea of which strengths you’re likely to need, which you can then refine in training.
Whilst the Advanced Sweat Test is the gold standard, the online test has genuine efficacy. We sent thousands of data points from our Advanced Sweat Tests to a leading university here in the U.K. and they found a strong correlation between how salty athletes think their sweat is and reality.
What types of electrolyte supplements does Precision Hydration offer?
Our electrolyte supplements come in 3 formats because all athletes and sports are unique and they have different needs. Here are the forms our electrolyte supplements take...
1) PH 250, 500, 1000 and 1500 come in black boxes containing waterproof single-serving packets of all-natural powdered drink mix.
2) H2Pro 250, 500, 1000 and 1500 come in tubes containing effervescent tablets.
3) SweatSalt Capsules come in black boxes containing a blister pack of swallowable electrolyte capsules. Each capsule has 250mg of sodium in it.
What do PH 1500 and H2Pro 1500 have in common?
I'll use our 1,500mg/l strength as an example here, but the same applies to the 250mg/l, 500mg/l and 1000mg/l strengths.
1) Sodium content (and colour)
PH 1500 and H2Pro 1500 both contain 1,500mg of sodium per litre. Both of their packagings has a flash of purple. The same logic applies to the 250mg/l (green), 500mg/l (yellow) and 1000mg/l (orange) strengths.
In other words, add either an H2Pro 1500 effervescent tablet or a PH 1500 packet to 500ml (~16oz) of water and you’ll get a solution with a concentration of 1500mg/l (~32oz). And so.
This makes it easy to find the right strength drink once you know your sweat sodium concentration (by having an Advanced Sweat Test). It also makes comparing our supplements with others on the market simpler too.
If you’ve ever checked out the nutritional information on the back of different energy/hydration supplements, you’ll know that they tend to display the information in different ways, with one product containing 0.4g of salt and another 400mg of sodium (not the same thing, salt is 39% sodium, 61% chloride) for example. We’ve tried to make it really easy to implement a personalised hydration strategy and to see what you’re drinking.
2) The amount of water you need to mix one serving with
Both the PH drink mix packets and H2Pro tablets should be dissolving into 500ml (~16oz) of water to achieve the concentration on the packaging.
Of course, it’s possible to mix them into more or less water than directed but bear in mind that they’ll taste saltier and be more concentrated if you use less than 500ml/16oz water per serving and more dilute if you drop them into more water.
We recommend that you stick to using them as directed (1 serving in 500ml/16oz water). We have a 1L (32oz) bottle available to make this nice and easy.
3) They’re both formulated to be hypotonic
i.e. to be of a lower concentration than your blood. This helps with absorption in your gut and means they’ll taste nice too.
4) They have a very similar flavour
Although the ingredients and amounts of sodium in the PH 1500 packets and H2Pro effervescent tablets are different, we’ve done our best to maintain a consistent light citrus flavour across the board.
If you’ve not tried it already, it really is rather pleasant (even if we do say so ourselves!). It’s a point of pride in the PH office that we get so much positive feedback on the subtle nature of the flavour, especially as it’s not our main selling point!
5) They’re both gluten and GMO-free, they're also vegan-friendly
Ok, so what’s the difference between PH 1500 and H2Pro 1500?
1) The carbohydrate content
The PH drink mix packets contain a small amount of carbohydrate in the form of sugar, about 13g of carbs per serving of PH 250 and 16-17g in PH 500, 1000 and 1500.
This sugar is in there for 3 reasons…
- It enables faster absorption of the drink into the bloodstream via a process called sodium-glucose co-transport through the gut wall.
- It allows us to make the drink with all-natural ingredients (just 8 in total).
- It provides some quickly available energy to help your performance when you’re out there working hard and sweating (without being able to entirely fuel your event)
We’re well aware that sugar is an emotive word in the world of sports nutrition these days. Although it’s got a pretty bad rep in the mainstream press, there’s a very strong and positive, performance-led rationale for its inclusion in some of our drinks.
If sugar really is a complete no-no for you, our H2Pro effervescent tablets and SweatSalt capsules contain virtually no carbohydrates/sugars at all (less than 1g per serving) so they're classified as ‘zero calories’.
2) PH 1500 is all-natural, H2Pro 1500 is zero-calorie
Part of the reason we launched the PH drink mixes (H2Pro came first) is that we were increasingly aware that many of our athletes feel strongly that they only want to put natural foods into their body. This is the way the sports nutrition market is heading and we wanted to make sure we gave our athletes the choice.
3) The osmolality
For those of a scientific mindset, we send our products to an independent lab for analysis to have the osmolality checked to make sure they’re suitably hypotonic (a lower concentration than your blood) when mixed as directed. The results of our latest tests were…
- PH 250 = 111 mmol/kg
- PH 500 = 147 mmol/kg
- PH 1000 = 163 mmol/kg
- PH 1500 = 179 mmol/kg
- H2Pro 250 = 53 mmol/kg
- H2Pro 500 = 48 mmol/kg
- H2Pro 1000 = 77 mmol/kg
- H2Pro 1500 = 113 mmol/kg
(compare that with plasma osmolality in the body which is usually ~295 mmol/kg)
So, which is right for me, the PH all-natural drink mixes, the H2Pro effervescent tablets or the SweatSalt capsules?
This is mainly down to personal preference and circumstances. Here are a few examples of times when we’d probably recommend you use one over the other…
It’s probably best to use the PH all-natural drink mixes…
- …when you’re racing and training hard and want your drink to contribute to your carbohydrate intake.
- …when you’re trying to recover from dehydration, but you’re not taking in food with your drinks. The glucose in the drink mixes will speed up the absorption of fluid in your gut.
- …if you want a drink that's 100% natural (i.e. no sweeteners)
- ...if you're prone to GI issues on longer/hotter events when you're drinking more.
- ...if you want to carry a serving or two of electrolytes on the move, especially in your wetsuit (as the packets are waterproof).
- …if you just prefer the taste of the packets over the tablets. Mary Poppins was right, a spoonful of sugar really does help the medicine go down!
It might be better to use the H2Pro effervescent tablets…
- …when you’re training in a fasted state to burn more fat, but still sweating and wanting to replace electrolyte losses.
- …if you’re strictly following an LCHF (low carb, high fat) diet.
- …at times when you’re actively trying to minimise your overall energy intake to lose body weight.
- …when you’re on the move and trying to pack as light as possible. E.g. self-supported multi-stage races.
- …if you prefer to get your energy exclusively from solid foods/bars/gels rather than fluids.
- …if you have diabetes (or other medical conditions requiring a lower sugar diet) and struggle to keep your glucose intake in check.
It might be better to use the 250mg blister-packed SweatSalt capsules…
- ...if you prefer plain water to even mildly flavoured drinks.
- ...when your total sweat output is likely to be high, but you don’t want to / can't carry lots of fluid. (e.g. during the run leg of a triathlon)
Fundamentally, there are few wrong answers here, but having a complete understanding of the differences between our products should help you make an informed decision on what’s right for you.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to use the correct strength(s) for you and to mix your drinks up as directed (1 serving per 500ml/16oz of water).