ENTRANTS preparing for next month's gruelling Trailwalker should take isotonic drinks rather than water. Nutritionists warned that neither mineral nor distilled water would replenish the body properly as sweating drained muscles of vital ingredients. An advertisement for Watson's distilled water this week complained that an article in the Sunday Morning Post had been 'far from the truth'. In the article, Ho Hun-fai, a Queen Elizabeth Hospital doctor and medical adviser for Trailwalker, said walkers lose salt through sweating and 'if you drink distilled water, it will just replace the water'. Losing too much salt could lead to muscle problems and, with heat exhaustion and tiredness, 'you might get into trouble'. 'Mineral water contains some of the salts you lose through sweating,' Dr Ho said. Now other nutritionists say sports or isotonic drinks, which contain salts in the right quantities and forms for the body to absorb easily, are needed. 'A lot of people doing exercise get cramps because of loss of sodium and other electrolytes. If you don't replenish the sodium lost in your sweat it will give you cramps,' said Susan Chung So-san, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Dieticians' Association. More than 1,000 contestants are due to take part in the 11th charity Trailwalker. Entrants will trek the 100km course over the MacLehose Trail from Sai Kung to Tuen Mun between November 12 and 15. Last month, three people died during walks in country parks and six were taken to hospital. Stephen Wong Heung-sang, assistant professor at Chinese University's department of sports science and physical education, said 'many people were dehydrated last month - if they had known the trick of keeping the body's fluid balance I think they could have avoided that'. Watson's director and general manager Edmond Tsui Pak-yin admitted that 'in regard to minerals, bottled water [of either type] has either too few or none at all, making them unable to satisfy our requirements'.