Olympian inspiration: India’s Unived co-creates hydration formula with pro-runners
An electrolyte-based formula, Unived said that it could help runners hydrate quicker than plain water or electrolyte drinks created for mass consumption.
Known as Elite Hydration Mix, the powdered beverage comes in two versions – original or lime flavour.
According to CEO Amit Mehta, the formula contains about 10 times more electrolytes than mass-market electrolyte drinks or supplements.
“We're not talking about 100mg of sodium, it's 1,000mg of sodium. It has 1,300mg of chloride, 370mg of potassium, so, every electrolyte that is in the formula is in a much higher level as compared to standard electrolyte products.
“Those electrolyte products will have 100mg of everything, so they'll have five or six electrolytes and about 100mg to 150 mg of each, and it's promoted as an electrolyte capsules or something like that,” he said.
The purpose of increasing the electrolytes content, he said, was to meet the demand for hydration products that elite athletes required – which was what he observed through his encounters with the pro-runners.
“These are athletes that are training for five hours to six hours a day for pretty much seven days a week. So that training load is very, very high. And when the train load is high, we are losing a lot of calories, fluids, and electrolytes.
“Since we are a specialised brand, with focus on sports nutrition with elite athletes, we understand that they will need a lot more protein, calories and electrolytes as well…That’s how the product is different [from other electrolytes products in the market].”
The product is sold in India and the US via e-commerce.
Aside from electrolytes, the formula also contains betaine, which could help the body’s absorption of fluid.
“The product also has one gram of betaine which pretty much no other electrolyte product in the market contains. Betaine is an osmolyte and it helps with fluid uptake, which is the role of the product.”
It is also a low-calorie formula that contains about 47 calories, with the suggested use of two scoops per serving.
Some of the key considerations when developing the formula is to balance the electrolytes and carbohydrate ratio.
“Carbs are required to facilitate electrolyte uptake. If you were to consume plain electrolytes without carbohydrates, as you would in a standard electrolyte capsule, then you're not going to absorb them as much as they can be absorbed along with carbohydrates.
“So one of the technical challenges was to balance the taste profile, ensure adequate electrolytes while not increasing the carbohydrates too much, because we just wanted to use them in an adequate amount to allow the person to absorb the electrolytes.”
Choice and education
Mehta acknowledged that the general consumers lacked understanding of electrolyte products but said that the launch of the products could offer more choice to them.
“When companies put out research-based products like this and when we make these kinds of products available, then at least the consumers have a choice, right?
“Then those who are interested or those amateur athletes who want to go to the next level and become semi professional, or try and become a professional athlete, they know that they have to train a lot more, they know they have to take better nutrition. So that's the role we are playing,” Mehta said.
He said the company has been working on marketing campaigns to educate amateur athletes on the importance of electrolytes and its difference with other existing products.