Do we really need sodium for exercise?

I started to dig in a bit about the role of sodium for exercise, because my daughter will only drink pure water no matter what. She trains 2.5-4hs/day and has multi-day swim meets with prelims (AM) and finals (PM) sessions that last hours on end.

The posts below looked at studies on the topic and, in summary, sodium in the water bottle might not seem as important as we make it to be. At a minimum, it evokes some thinking and questioning.

From personal experience, I like having sodium + glucose as the osmolarity of that combo helps shuttle the water out of the stomach and it prevents the feeling of having a water balloon in my stomach. This effect is supported by research.

Another personal experience is that I feel sodium helps on very hot days/environments. But I wonder how much of this is anecdotal?



Super interesting. I’m actually glad to read these. Like you daughter @Coach_Theia I much prefer to drink just plain water. But I’ve made myself drink electrolyte drinks because I thought I was supposed to even though they upset my stomach at some point during a long ride. At that point I stop drinking them and just drink plain water and always feel much better but then I always end up worrying about not drinking them. Seems like I don’t need to force myself to drink them anymore? That comes as a relief.


I would agree @Stefanie . No need to force it and do what feels good. If your body is low on sodium, you will crave more salt in your food.


I’d think some people get enough from their food as well. Could sweat rate impact it as well?

I have been using one bottle with electrolytes and one with plain water. Trying to keep my stomach and bladder a neutral environment.

Thanks for the info.


I haven’t read the articles yet but I do prefer a little electrolyte with some energy comb, if I forget and have just plain water for the bike it doesn’t feel right. I’m good with water for pure barre but if I have extra in a bottle from the bike will take it and just add more water
I’m not a heavy sweater so? :rofl: but mentally I need the hydration
I’m a Skratch fan and their new everyday hydration I’m trying to use to keep me taking in more water


i’ve lately using one bottle of electrolytes (tailwind) in my bottle and the other with water. I’m trying to keep my bladder less acidic and it seems to be helping. I too get tired of plain wtar too @PaleGail but for now this is what I have to drink. I so miss my coffee.

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