Any tips for balancing electrolytes?

Specifically, telling which one is low?

Two nights ago I did a longer than usual race. Calves started cramping up bad. Experimented a little bit but in the end had to throw in the towel 3km from the end (first race I never finished!).

I’ve made really great progress but have found that figuring out the electrolytes to be my biggest bottle neck as of late. Any tips on how to tell which one needs refilling? Or perhaps just drinking more water outright?

I drink perhaps a little towards the upper-end of a healthy amount of caffeine. Cutting back is not an option (unless you know of a good drug :wink: ).

A little off topic I know but it’s such a great community… I’d almost even come here for tax advice!!

What is longer than expected?

Based on what I’ve read, the most recent research says most cramping is a result muscle fatigue more than anything else. That is, you exceeding the limits of what your training has prepared you for. So, maybe more training is in order.

In any case, drop an electrolyte tablet into a water bottle. And drinking more water outright is probably a good thing.


Fully agree - pop an electrolyte tablet and that should sort electrolyte shortages out in general.

Cramping is due to muscle fatigue - either by going longer than used to, or different intensity (and for longer). Something like a different cadence can cause cramping very quickly.


I would just use one of those dissolving tablets in your water and see how that is.

Cramping usually is not related to that, but fatigue / strain. In my earlier days of riding I used to suffer cramps (calf muscles), but over many years they went away, while I could do longer, harder rides (100km/4100m+), sometimes even back to back days.

I’d also caution to be careful with the drink mixes, some of them can cause stomach upsets.


I got a question if anyone viewing this topic has any info - whenever I take electrolyte supplements I get guaranteed cramp every single time shortly after…! Anyone know what could be causing this? I thought addition of electrolytes was supposed to stop cramp, but for me seems to be the opposite :smiley:
If I just take water, no issues.

1 Like

I’ve been dealing with cramps my entire life and I’m convinced the contributing factors are (in descending order):

  • Fatigue (not enough specific training)
  • Genetics (my mom suffered from leg cramps and she wasn’t an athlete)
  • Caffeine
  • Other food (electrolytes are probably a factor but not a big one)

Poor/wrong bike fit (so many variables) and technique are big factors in cycling with too high of cadence being the biggest contributor.

1 Like

you could be drinking too often. while i don’t get leg cramp i can get abdominal cramps if i drink too much

btw, an old trick is to just make a regular drink and add a pinch of salt. if you make your drinks yourself with maltodextrin or whatever then you can basically control the amount of carbs/salt and find something that works through trial and error


These tips are awesome! I think the muscle weakness might be a factor. I used to train my calves for trail running. Stopped training them altogether and work at a desk (mostly). Some calve training is in order.

For me at least, this is the case right now: I’m drinking a tall can of Pale Ale, 7.0% alcohol, at 1:30 pm :-S . Still telling myself I’ll ride it off later.

1 Like