Winter is approaching nice and fast here in the USA, I'm finding myself putting on a good sweat sesh indoors more now and that's when it dawned on me to talk about hydration. It is good both on and off the bike as well as super important for function indoors and outdoors. So let's talk about hydration!
But first I might ask you a few questions..
How much water do you drink daily, and what types? Do you track your liquid consumption?
Befor, during and after rides and workouts, do you have a specific hydration strategy? And yes coffee counts! Haha.
And lastly, have you ever been dehydrated or even over hydrated? What's your story on that?
I can tell you through my experience with both diving into the deep science of my personal sweat loss rate and just riding in all conditions learning best ways to hydrate, hydration is one to dial down as it can really make or break your performance. Just like out good carbohydrate friends.. But that's for another topic another week. I have learned that there are many tools and knowledge you need to know based around hydration to really have the full benefit and also know what will work best for you. Like always, you must practice and learn to implement it to create a habit to learn what best works for you, but there are tools we can all gain the knowledge around to really make the hydration knowledge worthwhile and our training sessions fully beneficial.
So now that begs the question……
What is hydration and why do we need water and electrolytes for working out?
For starters, the amount of water you need depends on a range of factors, such as climatic conditions, your health, your clothing, your exercise intensity and duration. So, being well hydrated will be different for everyone based on the situation.
Fact: Approximately 60 percent of body weight is water. Sweat is composed primarily of water being 99.9% of that H2O! On top of that, there are three main factors that is the reason why fluid regulation is so important and why we must stay on top of it both off and on the bike.
1- Fluid helps to regulate body temperature.
When our core temperature rises above normal, more stress is placed on the body, which can interfere with the body’s energy systems. This negatively affects both performance and recovery.
2-Fluid helps to regulate blood pressure.
Good blood pressure normalizes heart rate and, therefore, manages stress on the body during training and recovery. Extra stress can lead to inflammation and other processes that can interfere with both performance and recovery.
3- Fluid helps in the movement and transport of essential energy nutrients.
Carbs, protein, fats and supporting nutrients that are used as energy for the body are all transported by fluid in the body. Fluids help to remove the metabolic waste that is produced during intense exercise. We need that in order to rid the bad and restore the good.
So yes, Hydration is important. During exercise the body sweats it out to create that regulation to keep us going strong. Yes, that lovely salty sweat!
More on sweat- As sweat evaporates from your skin, it removes heat from the body, but you also lose body fluid. So, you need to drink fluid during exercise to replace the fluids you lose when you sweat. That way, you'll reduce the risk of heat stress, maintain normal body function, and maintain performance levels.
Then How many fluids do I need to keep the system all happy and regulated? That is a WONDERFUL question we all ask ourselves after seeing that big pool of sweat after a good sesh or just waking up each day and thinking what you need to fully maximise your health and well being. According to the American Council on Exercise,when we workout we should consume 17 to 20 ounces of fluid 2 to 3 hours before exercise and another 8 ounces 20 to 30 minutes before starting their workout. Then, during exercise, 7 to 10 ounces every 10 to 20 minutes. And, finally, 30 minutes following exercise, 8 last ounces. A great way to make sure you are on top of this is to set everything out the night before so you can grab and go knowing you are doing the right strategy to fully maximize your training sesh
Each pound of fluid lost during exercise represents 16 ounces of fluid. But you may need to drink up to 150 percent of ounces lost to effectively replace fluid losses after exercise
Key tip: if you find yourself thirsty, you are then too late...
As I have mentioned, this winter season, you find yourself spending more time indoors in your pain cave enduring the hard and fun trainer session to get stronger and keep sane. Can there be a difference between riding indoors versus outdoors?
Why yes! There is a substantial difference but….
First, You can sweat more on the turbo than outside (but outside can also be hot and make you sweat more). So it's finding all the factors that you need to take into account of how much fluid you think you will lose and making sure to stay on top of fluids both water and electrolytes.So many factors can depend on how much fluid you lose during a session on the trainer versus riding outside. One factor for sure it, riding on the turbo, there is less of a breese and you are usually in a room that can retain more heat . so check that mett of your under your bike and if you see some droplets there, you know that you have lost some fluid and need to make sure to stay on top of it. This can even go for seeing some accumulated precipitation on your hand, forearms, and even forehead. Indoor training, we tend to not think that we will expend as much as we would outside and can forget about the common checklist of hydration and nutrition that we normally have if we were to go riding outside. It's nice because indoor riding is convenient and everything is right there for our disposal. So then we must pay extra attention to our needs.
Fact: Research shows the perceived effort riding indoors is higher versus outdoors, it is common to have an increased core temperature while riding inside. This is due to having a lesser skin cooling effect from the wind (Casa, D. J., Cheuvront, S. N., Galloway, S. D., & Shirreffs, S. M. (2019)).
So now we have gone through why we need to hydrate, what it does to make us healthy, and how we need to look for indicators like heat, wind, and humidity to better gage what can make us sweat more and need to replenish both water and electrolytes. Yes, as we sweat, a combination of electrolytes like sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium are extracted out of the skin. Losing that we need to make sure that we replenish electrolytes to maintain homeostasis within the muscles and blood. Electrolytes are major factors to help contribute to muscle contractions. We must also combine our regular H2O water to make sure we dilute it so you are not saturated with only electrolytes or only water. That leads to hypo and hyper hydration which can cause extra stress and issues. Our bodies want that equilibrium.
How do we know how much sweat we lose during a training session to better manage what we need to replenish? There is an easy way to test this. You need a scale, a note pad, time, and some good math skills.
First make sure you know how much you weigh in kg and know how to convert to kgs.
How to calculate your sweat loss...
Empty your bladder.
Weigh yourself in minimal clothing, as close to the start of exercise as possible (this is your initial weight).
Record the ambient temperature.
Do your exercise session.
Record the volume of any fluid you consume during your exercise session (fluid).
Estimate (or measure!) urine losses during your exercise session (urine).
Weigh yourself again at the end of your session, in the same clothing as before - be sure to towel off any excess sweat from your body first (this is your final weight).
Your weight change during exercise, plus any fluids consumed, minus any urine losses, reflects your total fluid loss for that session. To work this out:
Subtract your final weight from your initial weight.
Add the weight of fluid (in kg) that you consumed while exercising.
Subtract the weight of fluid (in kg) you lost through urination.
To make this into an hourly rate, divide it by the number of hours you spent exercising.
Sweat rate (Liter/hr) = [initial weight (kg) – final weight (kg) + fluid (kg*) – urine (kg)] / time (hrs)
(*One litre of water or urine is equivalent to one kilogram.)
Now that you have the steps, you can make sure to try this out on your next training session or ride and let me know what you find!
Finally, there are many ways to hydrate!
Yes, water is one!
Ok ok ok coffee can count too ;)
But also we need good electrolytes. Our good friend Allen Lim of Skratch Labs has really done an amazing job researching the best ways to get the best out of your hydration and fully maximise your drink to best fit your sweat rate needs and sodium losses.
Be sure to head on over to Skratch Labs and grab a bag of their Sport Hydration Drink Mix created to simply replace the electrolytes lost in sweat and to provide a little bit of energy when working out, without offending your palate or gut.
This drink mix has minimal sugar (4g per 100 ml) and a ratio of sugar (glucose + fructose) that is optimized for faster absorption, an electrolyte profile that actually matches what is lost in sweat (800 mg sodium, 80 mg potassium, 100 mg calcium, and 80 mg of magnesium per liter).
As Allen says “Drink when thirsty. Don't when not. Repeat as necessary”
You can also whip up a quick DIY drink mix if you are waiting for your hydration mix to come in the mail ;)
Their Sport Hydration Drink Mix was created to simply replace the electrolytes lost in sweat and to provide a little bit of energy when working out, without offending your palate or gut.
This mix has minimal sugar (4g per 100 ml) and a ratio of sugar (glucose + fructose) that is optimized for faster absorption, an electrolyte profile that actually matches what is lost in sweat (800 mg sodium, 80 mg potassium, 100 mg calcium, and 80 mg of magnesium per liter).
As Allen says... “Drink when thirsty. Don't when not. Repeat as necessary”.
There is also a way you can make your own drink mix whilst you wait for your hydration mix to ship out ;) or are in a bind to get your hands on a good mix….
1 ½-2 cups water
Juice of ½ lemon
2 tsp raw honey local if possible
With that, Hydration is most important to maintain health, and keep getting stronger. Take today's tips and share what your new and improved hydration game is and how it changes based on each ride!
Resources and sources:
Casa, D. J., Cheuvront, S. N., Galloway, S. D., & Shirreffs, S. M. (2019). Fluid Needs for Training, Competition, and Recovery in Track-and-Field Athletes, International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 29(2), 175-180. Retrieved Nov 11, 2021, from https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/ijsnem/29/2/article-p175.xml