Talk to any coach or sports nutritionist and they’ll mention a few times the power of properly fueling for your workouts. In order to give a workout your all or even just to feel energized enough for a stroll around the block, you need a nutrition plan that keeps your body running strong — and that includes water and electrolytes. (
But how do you know how much water and electrolytes to take in? Going off thirst alone can only take you so far. Enter the Gatorade Gx Sweat Patch (Buy It, $25 gatorade.com,), which features a corresponding app to help you pinpoint exactly how much water you need to replenish the fluids lost during a training session. The patch and app can also share how much sodium you lost during a workout via sweat, so you’ll know whether you need additional electrolytes. Sodium may have a bad rap, but it’s actually an important electrolyte that helps you maintain balanced hydration levels.
How the Gatorade Gx Sweat Patch Works
The patch itself feels much like a sticker, and the brand suggests placing it on the inside of your left forearm for best results. When you start to sweat, you’ll see a line on the patch start to turn orange — the more you sweat, the more you’ll see that line grow toward the bottom of the patch. There’s also an area on the side of the patch that analyzes your sweat for sodium concentration, which helps tell you how much sodium you lost. When you’re done with the workout, you scan the patch using the app (similar to scanning a QR code), the technology will analyze the results and deliver your sweat rate (how much sweat or fluid you lose per hour of exercise) and sodium loss (how much sodium within that fluid you lost during your workout).
Courtesy of Gatorade
“The patch can be helpful for endurance athletes to measure their sweat rate and amount of sodium found in their sweat to develop a hydration plan when training or racing events longer than an hour,” says Megan Robinson, R.D., sports dietitian and RRCA-certified run coach. “If you’re an athlete that struggles with finding the right hydration plan or is a heavy sweater, this information can help guide you in the right direction to prevent dehydration or over-hydration so you can perform [at] your best,” says Robinson.
Researchers from the Gatorade Sports Science Institute have been conducting tests on athletes’ hydration levels for over three decades. However, they aimed to transform the process into something that everyday athletes could access in real time. Previously, athletes would wear a patch similar to the one now available to consumers. However, it would take time for scientists to analyze their sweat and provide personalized recommendations. Matt Pahnke, Ph.D., senior principal scientist at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, explains the evolution of this process. Now, everyday athletes can have more control over their hydration and overall training performance.
Merely having generic recommendations for everyone regarding hydration intake is insufficient. This is because the amount of fluid and electrolytes lost during exercise can vary greatly. Pahnke elaborates, stating that some athletes lose less than 14 ounces per hour, while others lose over 84 ounces per hour. This disparity illustrates the significant differences in hydration and fluid loss, both crucial factors in performance and recovery.
Besides informing individuals about their sweat loss and the amount they should drink to replenish it, the Gx Sweat Patch also analyzes the composition of sweat, with a particular focus on sodium. Pahnke clarifies that sodium is the most important electrolyte lost through sweat. Sodium is key for balancing the movement of fluid in and out of cells during sweating and water consumption.
The Significance of Sweat Rate and Sodium Loss
If you engage in activities like running, cycling, or even taking long walks in hot and humid conditions, you may experience increased sweat and sodium loss. This can affect your hydration and performance. Therefore, it is beneficial to test the Gx Sweat Patch in various environments to determine your fluid and sodium requirements under those conditions, as advised by Pahnke.
“Your objective is to lose no more than 2 percent of your body weight through sweat,” states Robinson. “Once you exceed that threshold, it can elevate your heart rate, reduce blood volume, and ultimately impact your training or racing performance.” Therefore, understanding the amount of water needed to replace lost fluids is crucial.
For instance, if the Gatorade patch indicates a sweat loss of 900 mL per hour, it may suggest drinking 225 mL of water every 15 minutes during your training session, according to Robinson.
Similarly, knowing the amount of sodium lost during a workout can help determine the necessary electrolyte intake to maintain optimal bodily function. “Sodium losses can vary significantly depending on whether you are prone to sweating heavily or if you consumed a high-sodium meal before training,” explains Robinson. “It is assumed that most endurance athletes can lose up to 500-1000 mg of sodium per hour, but you should not assume that you need to consume an electrolyte beverage with that exact amount every hour.” By using the Gx Sweat Patch to determine your sodium loss, you can personalize your sodium intake during workouts. (More: Can Drinking Water Actually Help You Lose Weight?)
Testing the Gatorade Gx Sweat Patch
At Pahnke’s recommendation, I experimented with the Sweat Patch in various settings, ranging from a hot and humid 90-degree run outdoors to a weightlifting session indoors with moderate intensity. The patch itself is simple to use — just apply it to clean and dry skin on the inside of your forearm. As you begin to sweat, you will notice the strangely satisfying orange line on the patch appear. Carry on with your workout as usual, and once you’re finished, the Gatorade Gx app analyzes your sweat and provides a “sweat profile.” The more times you do this, the better the app will understand your specific fluid and sodium needs for different workouts.
I discovered a few surprising pieces of information from my results: I have a “low” level of sodium loss, meaning I don’t actually lose much sodium in my sweat (even during the hot and humid run). Consequently, I don’t require a high amount of electrolytes, specifically sodium, from sports drinks or endurance gels when I go for a run. The hydration tips in the app were also very achievable — for example, consuming just 7 ounces of fluid before a short run or strength session.
According to Pahnke, you get the most out of the Gx Sweat Patch by investing effort into it. To fully benefit from the recommendations, you need to manually input a significant amount of information into the app. For your workouts, you will answer questions about the intensity level, environment, and whether you consumed anything during the exercise. You will also respond to surveys about fatigue levels. In addition, if you want recommendations on how much to drink or eat before a workout, you need to schedule the workout in the app. This way, it will provide you with instructions on when and how much water, protein, carbs, or caffeine to consume. To track what you actually consume, you will need to enter it manually as well. However, the more information you provide the app, the better the recommendations will be.
There are a few drawbacks to the patch, such as it not always adhering well to the skin, and I experienced difficulties with the app scanning the patch at times. Additionally, to obtain a comprehensive understanding of your fluid and sodium requirements, it is best to test the patch multiple times in different environments. With your purchase, you receive only two patches, and each patch is single-use, so it would be necessary to stock up in order to obtain a more accurate assessment of your hydration needs.
Who Gatorade Gx Sweat Patch Is Ideal for
Using the Sweat Patch is a wise decision if you are training for a long endurance event and need guidance on proper fueling, particularly with regards to water and sodium intake. It is also beneficial if you are aiming to achieve a personal record and desire all the insights available to enhance your performance. If these are your goals, it is recommended to use the patch throughout your training cycle, allowing your body to adapt to the workload and changes in weather. This involves testing your sweat at the beginning of training, midway through, and close to race day. “As you build more sweat profiles — in different weather conditions — the app will become more intelligent and provide better information,” says Pahnke.
Does everyone need to test their sweat? According to Pahnke, probably not. If you typically engage in workouts lasting 20 minutes, it is unlikely that you need to test your fluid or sodium loss. It is during longer exertions that require rehydration and refueling where the Gatorade Gx Sweat Patch and app can assist you in doing so correctly.
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