Thursday, June 19, 2014

Fuelin' Up Friday: The Right Stuff

Running long miles in the Atlanta summer makes me a very sweaty girl, so in preparation for my ultramarathon, I've been paying extra close attention to how I hydrate and replace electrolytes while on the run. With my goal race being in late August, there is a solid chance of a hot and humid race, and I don't want dehydration and loss of electrolytes to be my undoing. If I don't finish, it's going to be because I was bit by a snake or got lost and ended up in Alabama. When I was recently contacted by The Right Stuff to see if I would like to give their hydration formula a whirl, it was perfectly timed. I wasn't familiar with their product, but with my avid googling skills, I quickly caught up. Turns out the product was originally developed by NASA to keep the astronauts hydrated during the extremes of re-entry (like to the planet, how cool is that).
Full disclosure: When I was a young EB, I desperately wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. I even dressed up as and did a report on Neil Armstrong for Great American Night in the 5th grade.  I will try not to let my fascination with the space program skew my review of the product.
Little EB, back when I had high hopes of being the first woman on the moon.
Now, as you would expect, there is some serious science behind this product.  When I chatted with David from the Right Stuff about the product's development, the thing that impressed me the most, was that this exact formula had gone through clinical testing, beating out other potential formulas. Most other endurance products don't have the budget for strict clinical testing, but incorporate components that have been published in clinical studies (i.e. electrolyte concentrations, etc). Since this product was developed by some very intelligent nutrition scientists to be used by rocket scientists, you can bet their scientific method was rigorous and well thought out. Note: NASA, if you need an Average Jane for testing anytime, I'm available.

Some of the biggest differences I noticed in comparing The Right Stuff to other products is the significant increase in sodium. A person can lose between 1-3 liters of sweat per hour during exercise, and in that sweat is 1.5-3.5g of electrolytes. Most hydration formulas deliver 100-400mg of electrolytes, while the Right Stuff has over 1700mg. It contains no sugar or carbs (so it is purely for hydration, not fueling) and has three major benefits:
  1. Fights the symptoms of dehydration (cramps, nausea, etc).
  2. Stabilizes core thermoregulation (body temp)
  3. Has been shown to increase endurance up to 20% over other formulas
I am a huge science geek and a pretty big numbers girl, so all these things did impress me, but honestly, if I can't stomach a hydration solution, it doesn't matter if it's made of magically unicorn tears, I won't be using it. I decided to first use the Right Stuff on a hot and humid 8 mile outdoor run (high 80s around 4:30pm). I waited about 15-20 minutes into my run to try it out. By this point I had a good sweat going and was ready to work on hydrating. I used about 12 oz during the run, sipping every 5-10 minutes. I did notice that I felt less overheated and more comfortable during my run, both important factors when running in Atlanta in the summer.
Taste: I was sent the citrus blend (lemon/lime) flavor. I had been warned that it was very salty, but it still surprised me a little. I mixed up my first packet in the morning to use on my runcommute home that day, and took a little sip.  Immediately I thought of the ocean, not like beaches and relaxing, but when your brother dunks you in the ocean and you take a big salty gulp. For a moment I wondered if it was something I would be able to handle while running (I've been barf free for so long), but figured it was worth a shot.  I actually enjoyed it a lot more on the run than I expected. Yes, it was still salty, but every run I've tried it on has been a hot and sweaty one, so that salt has been needed. I've just sipped on it and kept on going.

Consistency: Liquid. Since the product comes as a liquid concentrate, it dilutes immediately in water. There is nothing to dissolve. The small packets make it easy to carry.

During run: It actually didn't bother me at all, and I happily sipped on it through out my runs. It sat fine in my stomach. The formula is actually buffered to help prevent GI issues.

After run: I didn't drink a ton of it post run. I actually prefer it more while running.  However, it leaves me much better hydrated and ready for other forms of post run recovery (i.e. food).

Overall: I think the Right Stuff is a great hydration option for long, hot, or extreme endurance events (i.e hot marathons, ultramarathons, summer events).  I don't think it's necessary for the casual 5k racer, but for any situation where you will have prolonged and significant sweating, it will make an important difference. The taste is unique, but it even worked for my picky palate. It's not something you want to sip at your desk (nor should you because of the high salt content), but it is drinkable especially for the purpose.

Cost: Three packets for $8.99. Each mixes with 16 oz of water. Find it on their website: http://therightstuff-usa.com/

The Right Stuff worked well for me on multiple hot, humid runs. It is definitely something that will be important for me to carry during my potentially very warm ultra coming up in August. I was not only impressed by the product, but the company itself. I am your average midpack runner. Occasionally I win age group awards, but I am not a pro by any means. Even with the long list of professional athletes and teams using their product, David took the time to not only respond to my questions by email, but talk on the phone about the benefits, the science, and what the product could do for my training. I truly appreciate a company that respects and works with all levels of athletes.

Do you pay attention to the ingredients in your hydration options? What do you look for or try to avoid?

I received samples of The Right Stuff free of charge for my own personal use. I decided to share my review and all opinions expressed are 100% my own.

7 comments:

  1. I would suggest trying Vfuel also. Came recommended by Sage Canaday and it worked great for me. Plan on buying it for all my long runs moving forward.

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    1. Thanks Schlub. I've been working hard on electrolytes and salt, but I'll look into Vfuel. Right now I use Island Boost for fueling and really like it.

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  2. Never heard of this one! How interesting that it was made for astronauts!

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    1. The NASA part makes it so hardcore. I think it's the closest I will ever be to becoming an astronaut! :)

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  3. wow, it sounds great! i actually prefer things a little on the salty side when i run. i get so sick of everything being sooooo sweet! too bad it's so expensive...

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  4. Aww, your picture- adorable little EB. This stuff sounds pretty awesome. I admit I have been slow to try new things because the things I tried in the past I didn't like. This sure sounds like a winner for your ultra.

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    1. Thanks Karen! I've been slow to try salt replacement because I wasn't really sure where to begin. I liked this option because it was a liquid (vs many that are pill or tab form).

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