Straight water or electrolyte rich hydration required during rides?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Straight water or electrolyte rich hydration required during rides?

    I am trying to do better with my hydration, but I am a little confused. I have always filled my CamelBak with straight water, mostly because cleaning the reservoir was a snap and I didn't think I needed electrolyte replenishment during a ride. I also didn't know that over-hydration with water alone could lead to as many or more problems as dehydration - death in extreme cases - hyponatremia.

    I have read that 500 to 750 ml of water per hour of activity is the general benchmark for most people. But is electrolyte replenishment also required during the activity, or is straight water alone fine?

    I am talking about 2 to 5 hour rides in 80 degree temps at max or near max intensity. I weigh 185 pounds and I sweat like a sonofa b. Buckets. I am soaked 10 minutes into the ride, especially if the ride profile starts with a climb (which it almost always does). That said, I am in good physical condition, and am an experienced rider (if that matters).

    Thanks for any advice.

  2. #2
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    If you are sweating, you are losing electrolytes. Not replacing them and drinking straight water will further dilute what's in your body. You need to replace them. Shorter rides it's not a big deal and they'll be replaced when you eat/drink after the ride. But for longer rides, you definitely want something to replace what you lose. They make pills if you don't want to put anything in your bladder. Or you could mix something in a small bottle and take a shot of that once an hour and chase it with straight water. There's a number of homemade options you can make or you can get powders, tablets, chews, gels...whatever floats your boat.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nubster View Post
    If you are sweating, you are losing electrolytes. Not replacing them and drinking straight water will further dilute what's in your body. You need to replace them. Shorter rides it's not a big deal and they'll be replaced when you eat/drink after the ride. But for longer rides, you definitely want something to replace what you lose. They make pills if you don't want to put anything in your bladder. Or you could mix something in a small bottle and take a shot of that once an hour and chase it with straight water. There's a number of homemade options you can make or you can get powders, tablets, chews, gels...whatever floats your boat.
    Ok. Thanks.

    Is over-hydration a potential issue if you are drinking lots of water but supplementing that at recommended intervals with sport beans, stingers, shot books, chomps or other electrolyte replenishers?

    Sorry if I am overcomplicating this.

  4. #4
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    If you have normal food without some weird diets, then don't worry. You get plenty, and more, of all needed stuff during the day with food. So few hours with "just" water, will do just fine. Over-hydration is of course possible, but not so easy to achieve.
    People tend to complicate things too much, and tv commercials promising god knows what, are not helping either, same as most of "nutrition experts" with 1 week "course" they took over internet and no real life experiences.
    So keep it simple and don't worry too much Most of sport drinks which "replenish electrolytes" are basically salt and sugars, and believe me you get way too much salt during day in your food, so there's really no need to get some extra salt during training.
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    I used to just run straight water in my Camelback but now i used an electrolight replacement. I use the tablets from Nuun (sp? not looking at the label right now). And it seems to work and not foul the camelback bladder. One thing I do though is after the ride I throw the bladder in the freezer. That seems to prevent or at least limit bacteria growth. I am like you. I sweat buckets and I need to replace the electrolights or I'm cooked at the end of a long ride. Shorter rides I can get away with just a bottle.

  6. #6
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    I believe that water isn't good enough to do anything but cool you down really. When you feel thirsty, you can chug and chug, but all that does is really weigh you down and fill your belly. You got to rehydrate with some electrolytes and a bit of energy helps to keep you going longer. I've noticed that I sip my electrolyte drink instead of chugging and when combined with actually having meals (rather than skipping them) leading up the ride, I can go on for well over 3 hours on just a single 20oz bottle, and I'm in the desert area of SoCal with no shade, wearing long sleeves, long socks, knee pads, DH-style shirt and pants, mostly black too...

  7. #7
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    I have a 100 oz Camelbak, I fill it with 32oz powerade and the rest with tap water, plus ice cubes. works for me.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Varaxis View Post
    I believe that water isn't good enough to do anything but cool you down really.
    I can go on for well over 3 hours on just a single 20oz bottle, and I'm in the desert area of SoCal with no shade, wearing long sleeves, long socks, knee pads, DH-style shirt and pants, mostly black too...
    Sure you can go. You can go even without those 20oz, but either way you end up dehydrated. If this matters or not, it's up to you, but in worse case it's not really healthy thing. And you have much more chances to end up dehydrated then over-hydrated, not to mention that dehydration is much more dangerous thing then over-hydration.
    Otherwise water is perfectly fine for hydration, considering you have normal food without some weird diets during day, and considering you are not pro athlete with some super hard and long training in real heat (as I wrote before). Reason to drink less of "electrolyte drink" then you would drink plain water doesn't mean what you think it means, but quite the opposite You simply can't drink so much sugar as you can drink plain water, but not being able to drink that much sugary water, doesn't mean less is enough
    Primoz

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by primoz View Post
    Sure you can end up dehydrated, but it's really healthy.
    pro athlete with some super hard and long training in real heat drink less of "electrolyte drink"
    not being able to drink that much sugary water is enough
    Trying out this dehydration thing out.

    I wrote out a lot, but it sounded crazy and backspaced out the stuff that didn't seem to matter.

    Didn't have any sugary water and it felt like I got in a really good workout. Climbed 1,500' over 8 miles to try and take adv of the cooler weather before it shoots back up to 105F, on a trail I haven't been on since winter. Tried to eat some real food at the 1h 30m mark, but my dry mouth was making me eat really slow and washing it down with fresh water helped, but despite drinking about 2L of water down during the break, my mouth still felt dry. Decided to turn back, rather than take the bonus loop at the top, and started shedding some clothes for the ride back down. Was washing out on some of the less technical turns for some reason. Probably because I was in the zone where I was basically a zombie, being efficient with my energy use, trying to get extra rest with my eyes closed on the cruiser pedally parts, saving my attention for the more technical parts. Used to be able to climb it in about 1h 5m, but based on my suffering, this ride probably got me to improve way more.

    I learned that less of "electrolyte drink" and not drinking much sugary water is very good for dehydration and it's not wise to wear thick black clothes on a mountain without shade in the middle of summer, and that 3L of plain water is not enough for such a demanding ride.

    I can probably save money to buy a better bike that makes the climb easier and is so stable on the DH that it rides the trail for me when I get too exhausted, equipment that allows me to carry more plain water and normal food on my rides (and stores my protective gear for the DH), and some lighter colored thin cycling apparel that covers less skin and is has super advanced wicking and breathing properties, if I stop buying stuff like Tailwind Nutrition drink mix.

  10. #10
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    For me, it's a matter of degrees.

    For short rides, which are mostly what I do, water alone is usually fine. When it's hot and super humid to the point that I have a river of sweat running down my spine and my eyes are stinging from the sweat dripping off my brow, some electrolytes are beneficial. My body will tell me pretty quickly if I need to replenish them, too. I'll get splitting headaches. Others will get cramps. Either can put a real damper on a ride.

    I like the capsules/tablets. I can carry extra and they don't take up much space or weight.

    I vary my water based on my ride plans. An hour or two in cool weather, I'll only have a liter or two. Multiple hours on a hot and humid day, I'll have a gallon or more, plus plenty of electrolyte tablets. Plus food.

    It's hard to overhydrate, but not impossible. Really, though, warding off those splitting headaches is the main reason I use electrolyte products during exercise. I have a tub of mix I keep at home that I use when I'm doing summer yard work, too.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    ...I like the capsules/tablets. I can carry extra and they don't take up much space or weight...
    I just ordered two bottles of Hammer Endurolytes today. Should be here by the weekend.

  12. #12
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    Satire aside, it was really humid on my ride. I don't normally cramp, but I get these weird temporary cramps that pop up and can be kicked out/unknotted in an instant. Guess what people find helps with cramps... something with electrolytes, like pickle juice. When I start cramping in the middle of a DH... I can't really do much sometimes but clamp onto the brakes while trying to find an opportunity between the bumps to kick it out, and shit happens when I'm on the brakes with 1 less contact point. Serves as an obvious sign of dehydration. Sugary water isn't good by itself, it's gotta have the electrolytes, which are basically sodium and potassium. 1/4 tsp of salt per liter and a bit of sugar is all it takes to turn a plain water into a sports drink. The sugar not only gives a bit of a fuel boost, but it helps with the absorption process. Can also add in a very tiny amount of sodium citrate to help balance the acidity in your body, or alternatively sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).

    The effect of sodium bicarbonate and sodium citrate ingestion on anaerobic power during intermittent exercise. - PubMed - NCBI

    Funny thing happened on my ride near the trailhead - I saw a trio of crows take flight all of the sudden, with one taking a rather low sideways route. A coyote comes skipping out casually, and grabbed the crow that flew low and sideways and landed on the ground, all while the other 2 crows were circling and swooping down at the coyote, but not really coming close to make contact. It was no further than 15' from me, and just turned right around and headed for the hilly parts carrying the crow in its mouth, while the other 2 crows were continuing to intimidate to no effect.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Varaxis View Post
    Satire aside, it was really humid on my ride. I don't normally cramp, but I get these weird temporary cramps that pop up and can be kicked out/unknotted in an instant. Guess what people find helps with cramps... something with electrolytes, like pickle juice. When I start cramping in the middle of a DH... I can't really do much sometimes but clamp onto the brakes while trying to find an opportunity between the bumps to kick it out, and shit happens when I'm on the brakes with 1 less contact point. Serves as an obvious sign of dehydration. Sugary water isn't good by itself, it's gotta have the electrolytes, which are basically sodium and potassium. 1/4 tsp of salt per liter and a bit of sugar is all it takes to turn a plain water into a sports drink. The sugar not only gives a bit of a fuel boost, but it helps with the absorption process. Can also add in a very tiny amount of sodium citrate to help balance the acidity in your body, or alternatively sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).
    FWIW I used to get those cramps and at night sometimes hours after riding get a near crippling cramp. I used to think it was dehydration and just tried to drink more. Eventually after doing some research I tried a potassium and magnesium aspartate supplement. I take it once a day and problems stopped literally almost over night.
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  14. #14
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    Straight water, preferred. Pop a 200mg Magnesium caplet, eat a banana and all is good.
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  15. #15
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    Drink water and eat real food.
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  16. #16
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    Weigh yourself before you ride. Weigh yourself after. The difference is how much water you lost through sweat, after adjusting for how much you drank during the ride. So you can plan how much water you need to carry. Everyone is different, and you will change over time as fitness level changes, as well as seasonal changes.

    I use just water for rides under two hours. Over that I use some electrolyte replacement. Keep a diary recording the perceived exertion, weather, and how you feel during and after the ride. Then you will know what works for you. Everyone posts 'you need this much' when in reality the variability between people is far greater than most realize.

  17. #17
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    Usually just water for me. Rides 2 hours or more, I bring a gatorade and trail mix. The gatorade usually doesn't get opened unless I feel a headache coming on or it's really hot and humid. The trail mix at the halfway point or 2oz per hour seems to work really well for me. 4 hour rides get a PB&J worked in there. Fruit preserves not corn syrup crap. I also make my own breakfast shake/ smoothie concoction before heading out.

    I had my worst bonk ever a few weeks ago on a group ride. Had to peel off and go back to the car. Went home exhausted and passed out. Really hot humid day and I was not properly fueled and hydrated. It was also the first real ride after busting some ribs 4-5 weeks earlier. My body felt like it went on strike that day. I so much wanted to get back out that I shorted myself on prep and it came around and bit me.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by OddTrickStar View Post
    ...I had my worst bonk ever a few weeks ago on a group ride. Had to peel off and go back to the car. Went home exhausted and passed out. Really hot humid day and I was not properly fueled and hydrated. It was also the first real ride after busting some ribs 4-5 weeks earlier. My body felt like it went on strike that day. I so much wanted to get back out that I shorted myself on prep and it came around and bit me.
    That's harsh. Good on ya for getting back out though. Good luck in your ongoing recovery.

  19. #19
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    Water for me. I make sure I'm hydrated before a ride and I drink during and again after. I ride year round
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  20. #20
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    I only use water in the Camelbak but will bring Hammer electrolyte pills on longer rides when it's very hot and/or humid out.

  21. #21
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    Hyponatremia - Mayo Clinic This for longer rides as you describe would seem to indicate the need for electolyte replacement during the ride. Interestingly, the year they studied this at the Boston Marathon, a runner died from hyponatremia. Most folks that suffered from this were not elite level and spent more than 4 hours on course. With endurance events (racing or recreating), replacing electrolytes seems to be necessary (no matter what your diet or level of fitness). When I ride recreational centuries (usually on the bike around 6 hours) I always replace one way or the other. I prefer salted almonds, but that won't work in an off road environment.

  22. #22
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    Everyone is different and use/stores glucose differently. I;m not the biker just yet but I sure do have some 2 foot experience on some pretty good mountains. 4-5k vertical gain in a day gets you good. Nothing beats water and some good food, well thought out and planned. Try to know your body and spike your glucose with fruit where you figure fatigue will be setting in soon...NOT after you feel tired.

    Some of us an eat a lot and them move on I feel sluggish so I've learned I have to eat small and give it 10 min to get digestion going before moving onward.

    I've asked a few doc's I'm close with about the electrolyte issue and each has said it won't hurt but don't for a second thing you NEED it....followed with an UNLESS you believe your a world class athlete extending the realms of duration or doing 2 for practices in very hot climates for weeks on end.

  23. #23
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    Unless I put ENOUGH electrolytes in my water, I find myself taking a leak every 45 mins so it is probably diluting my electrolyte levels too fast. I have cramped up badly with just water and even a few gels. I'll try more electrolytes next ride.

  24. #24
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    dont ride paniagua

    i mean
    dont ride on "bread and water"
    get some electrolytes

  25. #25
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    You can fill a bottle with a electrolyte drink so you can keep you camelbak clean with just H2o. If you don't have a holder on your frame, it should fit in the camelbak.

    On longer rides, I have a 70oz camelbak and I have a bottle w/your typical carb/electrolyte drink mix.

    If you sweat a bunch (I do), you can down a bottle of H2o just before heading out on the trail. This keeps me hydrated for around 1hr before I start hitting the camelbak.
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  26. #26
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    I've tried drinking electrolytes before the ride and it gives you the boost when you need it. Just be sure to drink it right before you start your ride.
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  27. #27
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    Seems like there's a massive misconception here regarding what people think of or refer to as an electrolyte drink. They tend think of one of those sugary ones like Gatorade, or a majority of the popular sports drink mixes. You know you don't have to have sugar accompanying electrolytes?

    Tap water has electrolytes in it too, though in trace concentrations, while filtered/purified water doesn't. That and sugary food/gel/drink actually inhibits fat burning, since the body preferentially prefers burning the sugars. If you can have the electrolytes without sugar, it would be ideal for low intensity fat burning workouts. The sugar is beneficial if you're trying to work at a sustained higher intensity though.

  28. #28
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    Hammer fizz electrolytes and some Hammer Heed, works for me. You can tell you're consuming the right amount by how you feel after the ride. If you feel beat and have a headache you need more electrolytes. I use 3 tabs of fizz and 1 1/2-2 scoops of heed in 70oz camelbak. Nuuz did not work for me.


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  29. #29
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    Also after a long ride I sometimes take 1 more Fizz


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  30. #30
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    Water almost always. For v. long rides, I take Gatoraid in my other water bottle. I had some Hammer fizzy things during an 18 hour race recently that I really liked. I think most of the time regular ol' water is fine for most people.
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  31. #31
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    <2 hours - water
    2+ - add electrolytes

  32. #32
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    Why the Drinking of Iced Water is so Dangerous For You?


    Not many people understand why warm water is far better than ice cold. Hopefully, this article will help you see things better.

    But, first, try this:

    Close your eyes and imagine yourself being on a wooden dock that extends into a mountain lake. Sun is shining, birds are singing. Spring is awesome. The top layer of the lake has just melted. You decide to dive in the lake.

    Now, how does your body react? Are you relaxed or constricted?

    If by any chance you did not know it, warm water loosens skin and opens pores, and cold water constricts it and closes pores. The same happens to your digestive tract when you drink ice cold water.

    What does cold water do to your body?

    -- Body spends more energy to regulate its temperature instead of absorbing nutrients and digesting food. This may result in water loss.

    -- Cold drinks restrict digestion, shrinks blood vessels and hinders hydration.

    -- When drinking cold drinks while eating food, cold temperature solidifies fat from the food you eat and your body cannot digest undesired fats from the body properly.

    -- If you prefer drinking cold water after your meals, your body deals with excess mucus, which affects the function of your immune system, so you are likely to catch a cold or struggle with a disease.

    People believe that cold water helps in burning calories. But, you sure do not need your digestive system working harder, and try to make things a bit different. You can burn calories in many other ways, without affecting vital functions in your body.

    Why is warm water better for you?


    • Stimulates digestive enzymes and enhances digestion
    • Hydrates tissues faster
    • Improves better bowel movement. Try warm lemon water in the morning
    • Your body breaks down food more efficiently
    • Boosts natural detoxification in your body and cleanses blood via kidneys, skin and lymphatic system



    Once you decide to go for warm water or water at room temperature, you will experience better digestion and your body will feel much lighter after or during meals. Some people claim that drinking warm water has reduced their sugar cravings.


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    Why the Drinking of Iced Water is so Dangerous For You? - Healthy Food House
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  33. #33
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    Gatorade, after drinking just water for 30 years of bike riding, has transformed my energy level and hydration.
    Long rides, I fill my camelback with ice cold Gatorade and a waterbottle on the bike.
    Short rides, Gatorade bottle on the bike, water after the ride.
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  34. #34
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    spelling

    Gatorade ingredients:

    Although Gatorade reformulates its beverages from time to time, some of the ingredients remain the same.

    Filtered Water
    Filtered water is simply water that has been passed through a filtering system to remove impurities.

    Brominated Vegetable Oil
    BMV or brominated vegetable oil is added to certain beverages that contain citrus oils. BMV helps prevent the oils from rising to the surface. It also ensures the stability of the flavor mixture. It is derived from soybean.

    Sucralose
    Some sugar free varieties of Gatorade contain sucralose, a non-calorie artificial sweetener. Sucralose is added simply to enhance flavor and provide sweetness. Sucralose is sold as Splenda.

    High Fructose Corn Syrup
    The high fructose corn syrup in Gatorade is a combination of two to three carbohydrates. The high fructose corn syrup contributes glucose, sucrose and fructose to the sports drink. Each is added according to results of scientific data to ensure fluid absorption, energy delivery and desirable taste.

    Citric Acid
    Citric acid is added for flavor and to act as a preservative.

    Natural flavors
    Natural and artificial flavors are added to enhance the flavor that cannot be supplied if fruit juice or certain spices were to be used.

    Salt
    Gatorade contains two types of sodium: sodium citrate and sodium chloride. Sodium citrate used to enhance taste. Gatorade contains about 450 mg of sodium per liter, or about 110 mg per cup. Most of the sodium in Gatorade comes from sodium chloride, or table salt. Sodium chloride provides both sodium and chloride, two of the three major electrolytes that Gatorade targets for replacement; potassium is the third.

    Sodium Citrate
    Sodium citrate is added to Gatorade to enhance flavor and maintain the stability of active ingredients.

    Monopotassium Phosphate
    Monopotassium phosphate is added as a source of phosphate and has been approved by the FDA as a heart healthy food.

    Glycerol Ester of Wood Rosin
    Glycerol ester of wood rosin is used in products that contain citric oils. It prevents the oils from floating to the surface of beverages. It is harvested from the stumps of pine and purified to beverage grade gum. The National Institute of Public Health has declared glycerol ester of wood rosin safe for human consumption.

    Artificial Colors
    Artificial colors are listed in the ingredients as various dyes or a color with a number. According to Gatorade.com, the colors in Gatorade are present to help consumers differentiate the different flavors. Colors and dyes used in Gatorade are suitable for human consumption as directed by the FDA. The least amount of dye is used to achieve the desired color.
    Last edited by cyclelicious; 02-02-2016 at 09:24 AM.
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  35. #35
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    Seems like the flavor and labeling should be sufficient to help consumers differentiate between flavors. I remember clear Pepsi came out and consumers panned it. I never tried it, but it seems like there are enough natural ways to color drinks (i.e. grape skins) that we shouldn't need artificial dyes. I suppose the worry is that we'll all end up eating the gray flavorless glop they always have in the Sci-Fi Movies (Oatmeal). Still I think food can be both more natural and still look appetizing.

  36. #36
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    Am I the only one who would prefer it looking like raw sewage than be filled with dyes? I don't care what color it is...

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alias530 View Post
    Am I the only one who would prefer it looking like raw sewage than be filled with dyes? I don't care what color it is...
    I think clear is preferable to the "Raw Sewage" considering the ingredient list wouldn't support the appearance of sewage. I get your point though. I don't need prettier food. I always find it odd that pet foods contain dyes to make them appealing to people. My dog is colorblind. As long as she will eat the food I feed her and it contains good nutrition, I'm happy. We've (extreme generalization follows) become pretty narcissist in our consumerism. I go to people's homes and hear all about where they bought the food I'm eating and the dishes I'm eating them off of. Who cares? If you have organic salad, it doesn't matter to me if you bought it at Whole Foods, the farmer's market or raised it yourself, just make sure it's washed.

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