Jun 26, 2017For Athletes Fighting Dehydration, Water Alone is Not Enough
NASA had a problem: astronauts in space lose water because the lack of gravity allows body fluids to move upwards, putting pressure on the head and torso and eventually being eliminated, leading to headaches, fatigue, muscle cramps, and more. Upon re-entry, the return to gravity can leave them with severe dehydration.
When a combination of salt pills and water failed to solve the problem, Dr. John Greenleaf, Exercise Physiologist and researcher at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., spent over a decade conducting studies to develop and optimize a prepackaged formula to meet the need. They replaced much of the sodium chloride (table salt) with sodium citrate, easing the side effects of salt on the stomach, and added a high-intensity sweetener to make the sugar-free formula more palatable. Numerous studies proved that it worked. In fact, the formula proved far better not only for fighting dehydration symptoms but also for protecting the body from overheating, in times of intense exertion or in high heat settings, as well as significantly increasing athletic endurance.
“NASA set out to solve the problem of involuntary dehydration for astronauts,” says Greenleaf, who is now retired. “Our goal was to improve their performance after descent or during the physically demanding work of extravehicular activity during spaceflight. This is not a recreational beverage for casual drinking. It is optimized for effective hydration rather than flavor.”
The formula is available on Earth for serious athletes and others at risk of dehydration as The Right Stuff®, a commercial product from Wellness Brands Inc. that licensed the NASA formula and introduced it to the market in 2009.
“The reason we licensed this technology from NASA is because of the potent science that shaped the development of the product based on over a decade of research,” says David Belaga, president and CEO of Wellness Brands. “It was striking that the it increases athletic endurance by over 20 percent more than any other formula NASA tested as well as protecting from overheating.”
Over the past eight years, the brand has gained a loyal following. In addition to high schools and colleges from across the United States, many pro teams (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS, etc.), endurance (cyclists, runners, triathletes, adventure racers, etc.) and power sports athletes (body builders, weight lifters, combat sports, etc.) all have integrated The Right Stuff into their training and game day or competition regimens. In addition, first responders (military, firefighters, etc.) and industrial workers (construction, parcel delivery, farmers, etc.) among others are also realizing the protective benefits.
Nutrition experts, strength and conditioning coaches and athletic trainers especially like The Right Stuff because of the meaningful science and because it provides a low-carb way to consume electrolytes without calories. “We always start with the science,” one sports nutrition pioneer says. “We want to see what you have got. The fact that NASA had done the homework on it is great.”
Five-time CrossFit Games athlete Ben “Stone-Cold” Stoneberg found The Right Stuff in early 2016, in time for the CrossFit Games in Carson, Calif., where temperatures approached 100 degrees. “It’s awesome,” he says. “When I’m working out and sip on it throughout the workout and after the workout, I feel like it replenishes my body. I feel like I’m ready to go again. It replenishes the body better than anything I’ve ever tried.”
Athletes on Earth don’t suffer from a lack of gravity, but they typically lose one to three liters of sweat per hour with the same effect – dehydration. That sweat carries away 1 to 3.5 grams of total electrolytes per hour, almost all sodium and chloride, which is why those white crusts sometimes show up on your clothing. One teaspoon of salt contains about 2.3 grams of sodium.
Hydration with sodium is essential for optimal human performance. It plays a wide-ranging role for everything from mental focus and response time to eye-hand coordination, athletic endurance, cramping, and fatigue as well as regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, and transporting nutrients throughout the body, among other things. Water is stored in the body in three places: extracellular (in the blood stream), intracellular fluid (within the cells throughout the body), and interstitial (between the cells).
Sweating is the body’s primary way to get rid of excess body heat produced during exercise or in high-temperature situations. When sweat glands are stimulated, they secrete fluid that is mostly water with high concentrations of sodium and chloride and a low concentration of potassium. The fluid comes from the interstitial spaces, which get the fluid from the blood vessels. When there is a shift due to heavy sweating, water is transferred out of cells and they shrink, which affects performance.
Most sports drinks typically provide 100 to 400 milligrams of electrolytes, which is likely insufficient for heavy sweaters. A 0.7-ounce pouch of The Right Stuff liquid concentrate, when mixed in 16 ounces (500 mL) of water, delivers more than three grams. Much of those electrolytes come from sodium citrate rather than sodium chloride, which can be harsh on the digestive system. While its salty taste reminds you that it’s serious stuff, The Right Stuff is available in six flavors. Four flavors (Lemon Lime, Berry Blend, Orange Tangerine and Strawberry Kiwi) are sweetened with Splenda® and the two newest flavors (Lemonade and Cherry Lime) are naturally sweetened with Stevia – offering choices to help the athlete enjoy the performance aid.
International Tennis Federation player and Rio Olympian Tim Kpulun remembers wilting in the Florida heat and humidity, about to run out of energy for the match and out of all his usual products to keep his body in balance, when he remembered the 10 packs of The Right Stuff that a friend had given him. He took the product for the first time, felt the power return, and went on to win the match.
“I tried The Right Stuff and I felt and saw a difference,” he said. “It is this thing that rejuvenated me. I came through a really difficult match. My body was calm. It wasn’t my fitness that got me through. It is this product that rejuvenated me. I felt like I came alive. I need The Right Stuff to survive those climates. I love Florida, but it’s humid – you’re sweating eating lunch, you’re dehydrated maybe in your sleep. I’m in ridiculously good shape, but it doesn’t matter what shape you’re in – if you don’t have the right thing in your body, you will break. For the conditions we play in, The Right Stuff has been the best thing by a mile.”
Tavis Piattoly, a Registered Sports Dietitian (mysportsd.com) and leader in the “food first” approach and the fast-growing sports nutrition movement, says that appropriate use of products like The Right Stuff is important for certain people who are susceptible to heavy sweating and cramps. “It’s good for any athlete,” he says. “We get a lot of sodium in our diet, but when we sweat it out at accelerated rates, we need to replenish it. Our body needs it.”
Whether you are a hard-charging weekend warrior, an elite athlete, or somebody that deals with extended periods of exertion or sustained high heat situations, you need to protect yourself from dehydration. Water alone and, in many cases, typical sports drinks may not be enough to keep you from the challenges of dehydration. Check out The Right Stuff® from NASA – Serious Hydration for Serious Athletes™.
Learn more at www.TheRightStuff-USA.com.