Toker Engineering, developer of SaltStick Caps electrolyte supplements, recently announced the launch of a second generation product called SaltStick Caps Plus. The key to the new product is; a switch to a new form of sodium – known as sodium citrate (which is more stomach friendly) and then the addition of a proprietary formulation that includes; potassium, magnesium, calcium and, wait for it… an extra boost from 30mg of caffeine.
Add to this concoction - 100IU of vitamin D to help with calcium absorption, and voila, you have the SaltStick Caps Plus! Jonathan Toker, founder and developer of SaltStick, claims that his new ‘Plus’ product will take the electrolyte replacement market to a new level by offering athletes the latest ‘evolution’ in a capsule, that also be dissolved in liquid for those that dislike pill-popping.
I tried out the new product a few months ago during a stage of the Gore-Tex TransRockies Run, but could not really notice any major difference from the regular SaltStick Caps I had been popping for the first two stages of the race. Perhaps the reason was that my gels were caffeinated too?
So I turned to Craig Alexander, winner of the 2011 Ironman World Championship in Kona, who also happens to use the SaltStick products during races, and asked for his input on the new ‘Plus’ version.
EMT: What role does SaltStick play in your race nutrition plan?
CA: In a hot humid race, or an ironman it plays a huge role. Obviously the hotter and more humid the race is, and the longer the race is, the more you get depleted. In these situations it is very important. This was evidenced in Hawaii IM world champs this year when I dropped a few during the race and didn't grab the extras at special needs and cramped with 2 miles to go.
EMT: How long have been using been using sodium products as a race supplement?
CA: I have been using SaltStick since 2007. This was the year I started Ironman racing.
EMT: Do you notice any difference between the first generation SaltStick product and the new version? If so, what is it?
CA: They are both good, but the new version has caffeine in it which I like, and is based on sodium citrate instead of sodium chloride. This is easier on the stomach and more easily absorbed.
EMT: What would the effect be, for you personally, of not taking any sodium supplements in Ironman? Would you cramp up, slow the race time, etc?
CA: Absolutely, you would definitely cramp. I don't think you can ingest enough sodium thru your standard electrolyte drinks to replace what you lose. It must be supplemented from other sources. That would absolutely mean slower race times.
Shippey’s racing accomplishments are varied and include; Ironman SA, Comrades Ultra Marathon, Boston Marathon, ITU Worlds, Bar One Adventure Racing Series and the Nissan Xterra Series.