Nix Hydration Biosensor overview: for the athlete who sweats the main points
All over the place I look, individuals and devices are yelling at me to hydrate. On social media, the algorithm bombards me with health and sweetness influencers who say I ought to drink a gallon of water a day. (Glowing pores and skin! Shed that final cussed 5 kilos! Extra power!) The varied smartwatches I check all have these hydration widgets for monitoring my each day water consumption. Not too way back, I had a “sensible” water bottle that flashed hourly rainbow LED lights as a reminder to drink up. Most not too long ago, I’ve been carrying this little pod on my bicep. It, too, tells me to hydrate — however in a means that’s surprisingly helpful.
The $129 Nix Hydration Biosensor is a pod-and-patch combo that alerts endurance athletes when they need to hydrate throughout a exercise. It claims to provide personalised hydration suggestions, in addition to calculate your particular person electrolyte loss relying on sure elements like climate and sweat charge. It’s overkill. Hydration doesn’t want to be this costly or sophisticated. However for knowledge nerds and endurance athletes, the Nix sensor does provide some sensible steering that, for some, may be well worth the value.
Simpler to make use of than Gatorade’s sweat patches
A number of months in the past, I examined the Gatorade Sensible Gx bottle and the Gx Sweat Patch. It was one other gadget-patch combo that claimed to learn your sweat within the title of extra clever hydration, however I wasn’t a fan. Not solely did it really feel like a automobile to promote me extra Gatorade, the sweat patch by no means labored for me. It left me cautious that the Nix sensor would even be a tool that was higher in idea than execution. However whereas the merchandise are comparable, Nix delivers a greater total expertise.
The Nix sensor has two parts: a reusable sensor pod and single-use patches. The patches are product of a latex-free adhesive that’s snug to put on. It jogs my memory of KT Tape in that it’s versatile sufficient to maneuver with you however sticky sufficient to not slide off your pores and skin while you begin sweating. The patches are small (2.75in diameter), and I didn’t have any challenge becoming it on my bicep. Earlier than a exercise, all it’s a must to do is align the pod with the grooves within the patch’s sensor attachment and twist till it locks in place.
Whereas the sensor and patch had been straightforward sufficient to put on, the massive check was whether or not it’d be capable of learn my sweat, particularly since I’m testing this within the winter. Not solely do I sweat much less in winter, however I’m not a kind of robotic runners who can log 10 miles within the freezing wind in nothing however a T-shirt and shorts. Other than sweat detection, I used to be curious to see whether or not the sensor would catch on my lengthy sleeves or if carrying a number of layers would trigger any points.
Apparently, my bicep is sweatier than my forearm, and it made a distinction. In line with Nix, the bicep is among the finest locations to estimate your whole bodily fluid and electrolyte loss whereas delivering a superb person expertise. (Gatorade’s patches go on the forearm, and neither patch is validated for different components of the physique.) On three out of 4 check runs, the Nix sensor was simply capable of get a studying. I’ll get into my botched run beneath, however I guarantee you it wasn’t as a result of it couldn’t detect sweat. As for my sleeves, I didn’t have any issues aside from after I needed to reconnect the sensor after already placing on my shirt. All meaning is, in winter, you’ve bought to watch out to verify all the pieces’s linked earlier than you head out.
Nix additionally makes it simpler to add and sync knowledge. It principally works like all smartwatch or health tracker. If you’re performed with the exercise, you finish it within the app, watch for Bluetooth to do its factor, and voilá. Knowledge seems. (Syncing can take a sizzling second, however that’s commonplace.) You are able to do this with the patch on or off, too. Conversely, Gatorade makes you snap an image of the patch, and the entire system depends on analyzing the sweat-activated ink sample on a used patch, which, should you’re not sweaty sufficient, gained’t work. Even if you’re sweaty sufficient, typically you’ll must retake the picture as effectively.
One other factor I appreciated was the charging case. It might sound too huge, given the scale of the pod, however I truly like that. I’ve used and misplaced loads of foot pods and different small wearables with small circumstances. That is large enough to simply discover, whether or not it’s on a nightstand or stashed in a bag. Plus, the lid has a slot the place you’ll be able to stick a patch for comfort. And since it’s a charging case, you don’t actually have to fret in regards to the battery. The sensor pod lasts 36 hours on a single cost, however as long as you’re placing it again within the case while you’re performed, you gained’t have to fret about it for a number of months.
Nix additionally gives real-time hydration alerts. This was a hit-or-miss function for me because the alerts largely come from the Nix app in your telephone. If I had the Nix app open and on display screen, the alerts had been extra noticeable. If I made a decision to have one in every of my many different health apps open, I tended to overlook them completely. You possibly can choose to get them in your Apple Watch or sure Garmin smartwatches, however once more, I’ve personalized my exercise views to indicate me precisely what I wish to see, so this wasn’t my favourite choice. Plus, the app warns that it will probably take about 25 minutes earlier than there’s sufficient sweat for the sensor to learn, however it may additionally take a bit longer. Throughout one check, I didn’t see any related knowledge till 35 minutes into the run and consistently checking took me out of the zone. I like distraction-free operating, so I most well-liked reviewing my knowledge after a exercise after which making use of what I discovered to the subsequent. However, on the danger of dogpiling on Gatorade, not less than you could have the choice for real-time alerts in order for you them.
Connectivity may very well be higher
Whereas the Nix sensor wipes the ground with Gatorade’s sweat patch, there are some downsides. For me, the largest one is connectivity. Whereas I didn’t have a lot bother with the sensor’s Bluetooth throughout setup, it crapped out on me twice throughout testing. A kind of occasions was fairly minor. I’d already completed an hour-long run after I seen the sensor had misplaced connection to my telephone. As a result of I used to be dwelling, I used to be capable of take the pod out of the patch and reinsert it earlier than getting within the bathe. All the things reconnected, drawback solved. I used to be additionally nonetheless capable of add my knowledge.
The second time was my botched check run. I had put a totally charged pod right into a patch, appropriately positioned it on my bicep, bought dressed, laced up my sneakers, began up all my different wearables, and… forgot to hit begin within the Nix app. (It was early, and I’m not a morning individual.) I didn’t discover my goof till midway by a 105-minute future. I attempted to start out a belated exercise — some knowledge is healthier than no knowledge, proper? — however the pod wouldn’t hook up with my telephone. This was regardless of the very fact I may see the Nix was on, and if LED indicator lights are to be believed, working. I attempted fidgeting with the sensor, locked and unlocked the sensor by my sleeve, turned my telephone on and off, after which tried turning the pod on and off. No luck. I attempted the entire rigamarole a number of extra occasions later within the run, simply in case it was my location. Nada. It wouldn’t reconnect to my telephone till I used to be again dwelling. At that time, I attempted to see if it may add my sweat knowledge however no luck there, both.
I made a foolish mistake, however not an implausible one
That royally sucked. I missed out on useful long-run knowledge, and lengthy runs are when hydration is most necessary! Even worse, these are single-use patches, and I’d wasted one. It prices $25 for a refill pack of 4, which means every patch is $6.25. Human error performed a big function on this, however higher connectivity may’ve not less than saved the scenario. I made a foolish mistake, however not an implausible one.
I get why the sweat patches are single-use. Adhesives by no means stick fairly as effectively after the primary time. Plus, you’d have to scrub off previous sweat for correct knowledge, and adhesives break down with water and cleaning soap. However understanding this doesn’t cease these patches from feeling wasteful — each monetarily and environmentally. Nix does have a partnership with Terracycle, so you’ll be able to not less than recycle used patches without spending a dime. I recognize the choice, however I needed to root by Nix’s FAQs to even discover out about it, and the entire course of requires a bunch of additional steps. Individuals are lazy, and I’ve a sense most used Nix patches will find yourself in a landfill anyway.
Whereas I’m airing my gripes, it’s a bummer that the Nix sensor doesn’t help exercise varieties exterior of indoor/out of doors operating and biking. You don’t actually want granular hydration knowledge for yoga, pumping iron on the gymnasium, or a brief HIIT exercise, however it’d be good for lengthy hikes, different sorts of strenuous cardio, or out of doors sports activities. Hopefully, Nix will add help for extra exercise varieties down the road.
I used to be additionally disillusioned to see Nix is iOS-only in the intervening time. The corporate says that Android compatibility is slated for this month (February 2023), however it wasn’t out there after I was testing the system.
Knowledge match for Sort A athletes
To get correct outcomes, Nix recommends a sweaty run or biking session that lasts not less than 45 minutes. When you efficiently log a exercise, the app spits out a abstract that features the train, whether or not it was indoors or outdoor, and what you used to hydrate. You’ll additionally see temperature, humidity, dew level, photo voltaic load, wind, and altitude. As for hydration metrics, the app will let you know how a lot fluid and electrolytes you misplaced through the exercise, in addition to your sweat composition (aka, how salty your sweat is).
There’s additionally a extra common sweat profile that aggregates knowledge from a number of exercises. There you’ll be able to see your estimated sweat charge, electrolyte loss charge, sweat composition, and Nix Index, a proprietary rating that’s meant to indicate how sweaty a selected exercise was for you.
Once I instructed my partner about this, they gave me a withering look. It’s the identical one they provide me at any time when I clarify a brand new doodad I’m testing and the information it tracks. It’s derision incarnate. You see, my partner and I are polar opposites in the case of health knowledge. My partner is a kind of naturally gifted athletes who handle to run just like the wind on 4 hours of sleep and a half-eaten protein bar. They solely begrudgingly use an Apple Watch to stream music as a result of they’ll’t be bothered with offline playlists. They’ve by no means as soon as reviewed their exercise stats. This sensor isn’t for easy-going Sort B athletes like my partner.
It’s for individuals like me, the Sort A doofuses that use color-coded spreadsheets for coaching logs and set out their exercise garments the night time earlier than. The nerds who lookup and evaluate a number of coaching plans and power goo diet labels earlier than deciding on one. Those who look within the mirror and suppose, “I, a quantified sicko, might be optimized for most efficiency.”
I’m totally conscious that I don’t want Nix to run a well-hydrated 13.1 miles. I’ve run loads of races earlier than I ever tried Nix and have all the time crossed the end line in a single piece. However I additionally know I can do higher. I recognize understanding I sweat about 7.8 ounces of fluid and 365mg of electrolytes per hour within the winter. I like understanding I ought to use a sports activities drink with roughly 47mg of electrolytes per ounce. You are able to do the mathematics your self, however it’s a headache. Sports activities drink firms don’t make it straightforward to determine and evaluate electrolyte ranges, and advertising and marketing tends to deal with carbs as an alternative.
That’s why it’s cool that there’s a helpful chart proper on this app I can reference that lets me evaluate electrolyte ranges of in style sports activities drink manufacturers. Seems Liquid IV is the one that almost all intently matches my electrolyte wants. It’s not laborious proof, however anecdotally, my coaching has improved since I coincidentally made the change from Maurtens a number of months in the past. I’ll one hundred pc use this data after I’m making ready my subsequent future.
The underside line is it helps me plan my runs, which in flip alleviates my anxiousness about finishing mentioned runs to my ridiculous and arbitrary requirements. If planning helps you are feeling extra assured a few run or a biking session, then there are a number of eventualities the place I can see the Nix sensor being a worthy funding.
For instance, should you’re a triathlete who ceaselessly races in all types of climates. The Nix may very well be useful in fine-tuning your hydration technique everytime you prepare in an unfamiliar atmosphere. Or, should you’re significantly warmth delicate, this would possibly enable you improve summer season mileage safely. Folks simply beginning to sort out longer distances may additionally profit. Personally, I’d have appreciated a place to begin after I was new to hydration and fueling methods.
However paying $130 for a sensor and $25 for patch refills is rather a lot, particularly because you’re not going to be carrying a patch for each exercise. For most individuals, that is best as a benchmark instrument that you simply get away when the climate, your atmosphere, or your coaching regimens change. A little bit additional to provide you a slight edge. That’s the factor about devices like these. They’re not important. They’re a “good to have” if, and provided that, the expense is smart.
Should you’re bought on the concept of hydration patches and making an attempt to resolve between this and Gatorade Gx patches — simply go together with Nix. It’s dearer up entrance, however in the long term, you get 4 patches in a $25 refill in comparison with two. It’s additionally extra thoughtfully designed, works reliably, and provides you extra actionable knowledge. It’s what Gatorade was making an attempt to do, however higher.