Thursday, July 18, 2013

Review: Skratch Labs Sports Hydration

As I was going through my mental checklist to prepare for my race in a couple of weeks, I realized that I needed to solve a problem that has been bothering me since I started doing triathlons.  I need to take in some kind of sports drink during the race, but all the ones I have tried have given me some unpleasant GI effects.  I find the taste of Gatorade and Powerade disgustingly sweet, but drinking just water while sweating in the heat does not work well for me -- I lose a lot of salt when I sweat and it takes me a couple of days to feel right after a race.

I Googled "Sports drink GI distress" and, after a little poking around, came across a story about Skratch labs. The writer complained about the same problems that I had, and the way that Skratch labs had approached this problem:
I found the company's website and checked out their list of retailers. Luckily for me, BikeWerks, a cycling shop just a few miles from here, was listed as a retailer. At $19.95 it seemed a little expensive to me, until I realized that this packet was the equivalent of 20 16-ounce sports drinks. And at 80 calories for 16 ounces, I didn't have to worry that I was going to overdo it on sugar if I started trying it during my training.

I mixed up 16 ounces to drink before my run today, and even though it was 86 degrees, I felt pretty good after running.  No GI distress, no headache. For a short run like this, I would never use a normal sports drink, but since the calories and sugar content of this are so low, I thought it was worth it to practice.

Of course the real test will come during my race. I will update this post then. Updated: I did my race with no GI distress after using Skratch Labs sports hydration in the days leading up to the race and during the race itself. Granted, it was cooler than usual for a triathlon, but my face still felt gritty from the salt I lost through sweat, so I consider this drink a success. I also didn't get sick of the taste, which always happens when I drink the super-sweet commercial sports drinks. I'm sticking with SkratchLabs.

I like their approach to postrace reccovery, too. Instead of offering some kind of weird protein drink, Skratch has two cookbooks, one for portable food for during and after a race, and one for everyday. I just ordered both books and as a bonus, got a free pound of drink mix. I just found one of the recipes online, if you want to get a sense of what they're like. I will review the books after I have tried some of the recipes.

As Skratch Lab's Allan Lim said in his interview with the Philly Enquirer, "Until we could figure out a way to make a protein recovery drink that tasted as good as a bowl of chicken-fried rice, we'd keep making chicken-fried rice." 

This is a food philosophy that works for me. No weird bars, no creepy protein drinks -- just food that looks like food.


  1. I don't run, but you never know. In the future I may consider some form, such as "fast walking." Not having GI distress is a big plus. Hope this continues to work for you. Take care of yourself in this heat and humidity.

    1. Thanks! I normally stick to water but for a race or a long, hot workout this seems like it will be a good option.

    2. Did a race today, used two single-serving packets: one oranges, one raspberries. Both tasted pretty good -- the lemons and limes is probably the blandest one. I did a hard swim and a longish sprint -- no gi issues but a bad headache, which I think was from the long time I spent in the sun. So far this stuff is much easier on my system than anything I have tried.


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07