Skratch Your Hydration Itch

Fernando Rivera 2011 IMTX IronMan TexasRemember when we asked you:
What’s In Your Water Bottle?


Hydration Matters

Hydration is a key element to your cycling success – whether you’re racing, doing a century ride like the Wrigley Field Road Tour or enjoying a day out on your bike. The duration and intensity of your ride will dictate how many calories you need and how to properly fuel on your ride.

The water bottle is often the most neglected part of a nutrition strategy. Many people tend to fill their bottles with sugary drinks, when their ride doesn’t really warrant that. Other people assume they will do fine on water alone. Any time you will be pedaling for more than 90 minutes, you need to consider adding electrolytes to your water bottle. But all sports drinks are not equal.

All water bottles are not created equal either. Learn why the Specialized Purist Bottle is so pure >>

Enjoy cold water on your rides? Keep your fluids cool with the Specialized Purist Insulated Bottle >>


Skratch Labs mix is only 80 calories per 500mL (16.9oz). This is significantly less than other sports drinks on the market, but there’s a reason for that. According to Skratch Labs, this is the highest concentration of carbohydrates that we can have in our drink while still optimizing water or fluid transport across the small intestine.

Sports drinks with a higher concentration of carbohydrates can lead to something called “gut rot.” Skratch Labs defines this as “that bloated, sick, less than fresh, ‘I don’t want to drink anymore,’ stomach upset that is a problem common with many sugary sports drinks and gels.”

When doing a long ride, like a grand tour, century ride or an IronMan, you will need to take in more calories. (Remember, though, your body can only process up to 250-300 calories per hour, so you don’t necessarily need to replenish all the calories you’re using up on the bike.) Those calories, however, are better coming from food than from your water bottle. Skratch Labs explains why: “Eating real food that forms a bolus in the stomach and slowly trickles into the body always works better than trying to drink that fuel or energy in a solution.”


Skratch Labs Hydration Mix Allen Lim Cycling Nutrition Science


Get Tips for Fueling from Skratch Labs.


Lab Science

As for how a low calorie solution in your water bottle can help prevent gut rot, Allen Lim, founder of Skratch Labs, gets into great detail on his blog Hydration Science and Practice. In short, our GI tract serves as a semipermeable membrane. (Remember that term from high school and college science classes?) The small intestine, especially, acts to selectively transport fluid and nutrients into our body.

While the small intestine can actively transport nutrients like sugars, amino acids, and electrolytes, it also controls water flux by osmosis. (Another one of those science terms comes back to haunt us!) If you drink a solution with a greater concentration than your blood or bodily fluids, water will flow out of your body into your belly through osmosis to dilute that concentrated solution. Said another way, if your sports drink is “thicker” than blood, then water will flow out of your blood stream into your gut, effectively dehydrating and bloating you, creating “gut rot.”

Skratch Labs likens drinking a solution with a very high concentration of anything (e.g., gels) to throwing a lot of junk down your sink’s garbage disposal and not having either enough water or a strong enough motor to keep the drain open.

You can read more about the science behind this theory. Meanwhile, here’s a demonstration that Adam Lim prepared. Using a raw egg – with its shell removed and “replaced” by an intestine-like semipermeable membrane – he demonstrate osmosis.



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Secret Drink Mix

A few years ago, one of our Higher Gear customers came to us and said, “I got this ‘secret drink mix’ at a trade show and I want to know what it is and where I can buy it.” At the time, the Higher Gear mass spectrometer (okay, not many of our science classes discussed those, but X-Files fans would have heard the term!) was down, so it took us a while to get results.

Over the last few years Skratch Labs went to what many would consider unreasonable lengths and incurred extensive personal costs to produce a drink mix they never intended to sell and weren’t allowed to promote. Their drink mix was developed and tested in the field with athletes competing in races like the Tour de France.

For years, athletes would secretly dump their sponsors’ drinks to replace them with Skratch Labs, earning the name SDM (for Secret Drink Mix) from the pros who used it. Those athletes will tell you that they felt better, performed better, and didn’t experience the bloating and stomach issues that they did with other sports or electrolyte drinks. The secret was that Skratch Labs just worked better.


Skratch Labs Hydration Mix Allen Lim Cycling Nutrition Science


Just some of the reasons Skratch Labs tastes and performs better:

  • Fewer calories and more electrolytes.
  • All natural ingredients you can actually pronounce.
  • Only real fruit for flavor.
  • No artificial “anything.”
  • A light and clean taste profile.


Skratch Labs Hydration Mix Allen Lim Cycling Nutrition ScienceNow that the secret is out, everyone can use this exercise drink mix to optimize hydration – whether cycling, running, skiing, clubbing, or heck, whenever you’re sweating. We at Higher Gear carry single serve packets as well as one pound bags. If you have a favorite flavor, let us know and we’ll order it for you.


Get Tips for Fueling from Skratch Labs.


Come in to Higher Gear to see which flavor of Skratch Labs hydration mix you prefer and to feel the difference proper hydration can make on your ride.


For more on hydration, visit:



Now that the secret is out, come in to Higher Gear to pick up your not-so-secret hydration mix and tell your friends!



Need Help? Have Questions?

Highland Park | 847-433-2453
Wilmette | 847-256-2330

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