Review: NASA Developed ‘The Right Stuff’ Electrolyte Drink Shuttles Cramps Away

The-Right-Stuff-electrolyte-sports-drink-mix

During the heat of summer staying hydrated can be a challenge, even when you’re not riding. Throw your leg over the bike, start pedaling and hydration becomes even more important. One key element to hydration and staying cramp free is getting in enough sodium. The Right Stuff packs in more sodium than any other on the market today. Short on marketing but long on performance, I’ve found this stuff can be magic on a hot day.

Find out more after the break about this sodium packed punch…

OK, I’ll admit that the name is a bit kitch. I either think about the movie or the terrible song from the 80′s when I see the packaging. The name comes from the fact that this drink was developed by NASA to help astronauts fight off dehydration. NASA worked with astronauts and athletes using drinks available on the market and their own custom drinks. They created a patented formula that they found increased endurance by 20 percent, raised resting plasma volume significantly more than carbohydrate-containing beverages and maintained it better during a 70-minute exercise session. Several other studies done by other researchers confirmed the findings of NASA. This drink is also unique in that it is a liquid concentrate rather than a powder. Each package is .67oz. and comes in what looks like a gel packet. Just rip off the top and dump it into a 16-20oz. bottle. So even though NASA isn’t sending too many folks into space, we’re still benefiting from their research.

And that research says the perfect hydrating liquid contains no carbohydrates and minimal sugars. The key ingredient is sodium, and  The Right Stuff has a lot of it: 1780mg per serving. They added sucralose and citric acid for taste, other than that it’s pure sodium. That number may be surprising considering many other drinks top out at 500g or less. Hydration needs are very personal, but an average athlete needs 500 to 1000mg of sodium per hour and some athletes need up to 1500mg. So an athlete can sip The Right Stuff to meet their personal needs.

I’ve used The Right Stuff on the road and trail and it is an incredible cramp fighting drink. I typically need around 600 to 700mg per hour and with a 20oz bottle I was able to meet my sodium needs for three hours with the help of the sodium in my gels and blocks. Even on the hottest days, and we’ve had some record heat here in Colorado, I never came close to cramping. For long mountain bike races and training days I tucked a pack in my jersey and used water at the aid stations to make another bottle. This was a super convenient and easy way for me handle my sodium needs when on the bike longer than three hours. I also had success with drinking The Right Stuff before a race to pre-load with sodium. The only downside to the single serving packaging is that it uses more packaging and you can’t really ration out the portions like you can with a powder and scoop.

The taste is salty of course. All three flavors -berry blend, citrus and orange tangerine- have a very distinctly salty bite to them. It’s not a light, crisp flavor either, rather it is slightly heavy. It’s not the most palatable, but it gets the job done. I was pleased with the citrus and orange tangerine, but the berry blend was a bit hard to swallow. For me, diluting it as much as possible was helpful, and I usually chased it with a sip of plain water. Not everyone will be able to handle this unique beverage, but for those that can you can kiss cramps goodbye.

Another benefit to The Right Stuff is that you can dial in your hydration, sodium and calories as needed. Getting in sodium without calories, or just water without sodium you can take in the exact element you need without disrupting your system. Many hydration experts are now touting the concept of hydration in the bottle and calories in the pockets and The Right Stuff is in line with this idea.

If you’ve experienced cramps while riding then you know how painful they are and how they instantly bring you to a halt. Sodium is the key to stopping those cramps and The Right Stuff packs in the sodium to keep you on the trail. Convenient for on the trail use, this liquid concentrate has a distinctly salty taste that may not suit everyone, but the bottom line is that it works. Sure, the name is a bit silly, but The Right Stuff is one of the few products that is short on marketing and long on results.

Comments

Brent - 07/11/13 - 4:19pm

how would this be any different that just adding salt to a non sugar flavored drink? or just water?

David - 07/11/13 - 6:14pm

^^^mmm, salty water

vectorbug - 07/11/13 - 6:25pm

“One key element to hydration and staying cramp free is getting in enough sodium.” Citation needed.

Psi Squared - 07/11/13 - 7:49pm

Vectorbug, give hyponatremia a try for a while, and then tell everyone how that works out for you. If you’re not feeling up to the task, then just google “hyponatremia.” Ah, heck: I’ll help you. Signs and symptoms of hyponatremia are:
-nausea
-vomiting
-headache
-confusion
-lethargy
-FATIGUE
-loss of appetite
-restlessness
-irritability
-MUSCLE WEAKNESS
-SPASMS
-CRAMPS
-seizures
-coma

Did you notice the ones about FATIGUE, MUSCLE WEAKNESS, SPASMS, and CRAMPS? Those sound like things encountered on bike rides. Hmmm. Oh, FYI, hyponatremia is low serum sodium levels (in other words, ain’t enough sodium in your bloodstream.).

rideifbikes - 07/11/13 - 9:13pm

kitch? http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=kitch

g - 07/12/13 - 12:30am

Good, more Gatoraide. Which study proves that cramps are alleviated by sodium ?

xoffender - 07/12/13 - 12:34am

i’d like to try this stuff in the extreme conditions we have here in houston every summer. highs in upper 90s, 100+, high humidity, heat indexes well over 100+, for 4-5 mos straight. that’d be a real test of this product

waterglass - 07/12/13 - 8:00am

If only a cheap source of water-soluble sodium were already available in everyone’s kitchen, then we wouldn’t need products like this. I might even put mine in a shaker for convenience, and leave it out right beside the black pepper.

Kevin - 07/12/13 - 5:23pm

Psi Squared:
Those symptoms aren’t limited to hyponatremia. That’s like saying because I had a headache and felt nauseated yesterday I must have been hyponatremic when in fact I had a migraine. The cramps associated with hyponatremia are systemic, not localized like you experience while cycling. There has been absolutely no good research linking sodium levels with exercise-associated cramping.

Psi Squared - 07/13/13 - 12:36am

You’d be wrong about hyponatremia not resulting in localized cramps, especially on a bike. Further, you’re definitely wrong to assume that I indicated all cramps result from hyponatremia.

Kevin - 07/15/13 - 11:18am

You posted a list of symptoms of hyponatremia, highlighted four of them, and said “these happen during cycling.” You posted this in direct response to someone challenging the idea that sodium intake is a key factor in staving off cramps. You didn’t come right out and say it, but you strongly implied that those four symptoms you focused on are due to hyponatremia, which is due to not enough sodium intake. And once again, every study that has looked at acute, localized cramping in athletes has found no correlation between sodium levels and the presence of cramping. Where’s the evidence that hyponatremia results in localized, rather than systemic, cramping?

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