My ears perked up when I first heard about the Precision Hydration Sweat Test. I must have this test, I thought! I am a Sports Dietitian in Arizona, after all, and my clients are endurance athletes - triathletes, runners/ultra-runners, and distance cyclists. People sweat a ton here because of the heat, and with the sweat losses go the electrolytes… namely sodium. Sodium has many essential functions in the body. Responsibilities include: maintaining fluid balance, maintaining cognitive function, nerve impulse transmission, absorption of nutrients in the gut, and muscle contraction.
The test measures sweat sodium concentration (the amount of sodium lost per liter of sweat), which is largely determined by genetics. This measure is highly variable from person to person. You can be a heavy sweater, but not lose much sodium. You can be a heavy sweater and lose a lot of sodium. You can be a light sweater and lose a little or a lot of sodium. Sweat rate and sweat sodium concentration are not dependent on each other.
I’ve been doing the testing for 3 years now and the results have been INCREDIBLE. Athletes who have previously dealt with severe, systemic cramping have been able to complete endurance events with no incidence of cramps when following the hydration/electrolyte replacement plan we implement during the testing session. But this type of athlete only makes up a small percentage of the people who come to me for testing. You see, cramping isn’t the only indicator of hyponatremia; it’s just the most common one. Many people who aren’t consuming enough salt during training/racing feel fatigued, aren’t performing up to their potential, and aren’t recovering well. These symptoms may be attributed to other variables – fuel plan is off, training plan is too heavy, not enough rest, etc. and then it all clicks into place when they implement their personalized hydration prescription!
I have countless success stories, from athletes of all levels and abilities. This test is a lifesaver and an absolutely necessity in my humble opinion. It allows athletes to gain knowledge about their individual sweat losses, and to develop an effective plan instead of simply guessing. I test people all year long, anytime is a good time to test. So be one step ahead of your competition, and get your test on the calendar. You won’t be disappointed.