As anyone who’s ever tasted their own sweat during a hard workout knows, sweat is salty.
This is because not only do you lose water when you sweat, but with it, electrolytes (the primary one being sodium). Electrolytes are minerals in your body and blood that affect how your body functions, particularly during exercise. So, it’s important to keep them topped up.
Here’s a few reasons why, and how you can do this.
Replenishing electrolytes during exercise helps maintain plasma volume, which depletes when you sweat. Hydration drinks with electrolytes work to do this over time better than water alone. Maintaining plasma volume will prevent a decrease in performance associated with dehydration. Thinking about hydration is just as important as thinking about fuel depletion.
Replacing electrolytes during exercise can also help prevent hyponatremia (over consumption of fluids). Consuming electrolytes in an Energy Gel or Electrolyte capsule is most effective for this.
Consuming electrolytes, specifically sodium, may also help prevent cramping in some people during exercise. Whilst there can be many factors that cause exercise induced muscle cramping, research has shown that people who are prone to cramping do tend to lose more salt in their sweat when compared to athletes who do not cramp.
There are a lot of variables that come into play in relation to replacing electrolytes, including individual sweat rates, and sweat sodium concentration. The environment in terms of heat, cold, humidity, etc. A good starting point is to experiment with both water and electrolyte intake during exercise in different conditions, to help determine what works best. Or speak to a sports dietician who can help you determine some of these individual factors.
When preparing for your ride, take some time during training to get used to taking on some electrolytes. We’ll be providing GU Hydration Tabs to help ensure everyone stays properly hydrated. You can grab these online to train with pre-event.