Osmolality and Sports Nutrition
More is Not Always Better
Osmolality is a scientific measure of concentration used to describe the number of particles dissolved in a solution — Or simply put, how much “stuff” is in your drink.
Osmolality is a critical factor in the body’s ability to digest and utilize ingested food and drink within the body. The more “stuff” a drink contains (carbohydrates, electrolytes, amino acids, protein, flavoring, etc.), the higher its osmolality.
The osmolality of our blood serum is approximately 280-300mosm/kg and this is highly regulated by the intrinsic mechanisms within our body.
Optimal absorption of fluids within the body happens when a drink’s osmolality equals your body’s natural osmolality — This means the drink is “isotonic.”
If there is too much “stuff” in your gut (often caused by a combination of various gels, chews, food, salt tabs, etc.) the result will be extremely concentrated — “hypertonic” — and your body will treat it like you just ate a full meal.
In order to digest and absorb the concentrated hypertonic solution in your gut, your system will be forced to divert blood and water from your muscles to your GI tract in order to process and dilute it to a point where it can be absorbed. This can result in delayed gastric emptying, nausea, bloating, GI distress, dehydration, and muscle cramping, which can be detrimental to both performance and safety.
Fluids supplied with osmolality above 300mosm/kg, (i.e. hypertonic solutions), cause not only delays in gastric emptying but also more importantly will cause fluid shifts from the body to the gut before absorption occurs. Such delays in rehydration introduce the real potential to delay and reduce performance. (Alonso, 1998, Hargreaves, 1991, Sowka et al, 2000).
In a hypertonic solution, there is too much “stuff” in your gut so your body pulls in water to help dilute and digest it. This pulls valuable water from working muscles and can cause GI issues like nausea, bloating, diarrhea, cramping, and gastric distress.
In a hypotonic solution, there isn’t enough “stuff” in your drink — There is too much water and not enough electrolytes, etc. So in order to digest and absorb it, your stomach will actually pull sodium from the bloodstream, which can lead to cramping, hyponatremia, dehydration, and can contribute to overheating.
In an isotonic solution, there is just the right amount of “stuff,” so it perfectly matches the osmolality of the body. Your body digests it easily, and electrolytes, carbohydrates, and water are absorbed efficiently into the bloodstream to be transported to your working muscles — Providing rapid hydration, replenishing electrolytes, and providing energy through carbohydrates.
Our proprietary technology simplifies sports nutrition by allowing you to design a fuel and hydration formulation while ensuring its osmolality is in the right range for your body to easily digest and absorb.
INFINIT's patented Osmo-FIT™ system puts all of your hydration, calories, electrolytes, and protein in one simple isotonic solution that is virtually impossible to mess up.
You can have the best ingredients in the world but if they are too highly concentrated, or the mix is wrong, you might as well be trying to compete while eating a cheeseburger.
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