What do you do when water is not enough to rehydrate?
Words: Zoe Wilson Image: Matt Staggs
Riding during the warmer months means you’re going to find yourself sweating more and more. While water should be the first choice for hydration for most of us, there are times when water is not enough.
When you ride, you sweat, and when you sweat you lose fluids, but also electrolytes such as sodium, calcium, potassium and magnesium. Dehydration can ruin an otherwise solid ride. Studies have shown that even a 1-2% reduction in body weight through fluid loss can increase perceived exertion. In other words – even being a little dehydrated can make your ride feel harder and reduce your performance. Hydration is also essential for recovery after a ride making it even more important if you want to be able to back up and train the next day.
The picture gets a little more complicated when we start to look at the electrolytes in the equation, and not just fluid. Your body needs electrolytes in the correct concentrations to help maintain fluid balance, muscle contraction and neural activity – all essential for you to be able to perform basic daily functions, let alone ride at your best. Replacing electrolytes (particularly sodium or salt) also helps hydration by driving the thirst mechanism, while also increasing fluid absorption and retention. So, in order to ride strong all summer, it's essential you replace the fluid and electrolytes you lose each day.
Do you finish a ride with salty patches all over your clothes or crusty salty bits in your eyebrows? Do you struggle to rehydrate after sessions? If so, you might be a salty sweater, meaning you lose more electrolytes (sodium, aka salt) in your sweat than average. Individual physiology dictates how much sodium and electrolytes are lost when our body produces energy and sweats to cool down. If you think you might be a salty sweater, consider getting a hydration and sweat test done, with your Sports Dietitian.