A quick guide to your summer cycling hydration problems.
Summer is in full effect and it is hot! Cycling, like any type of exercise dehydrates your body, especially in the summer months. On a bike ride in hot conditions your body cannot absorb water as fast as it loses it. As your core temperature rises during exercise the body compensates by sweating, depleting your body of water and electrolytes. The primary electrolytes you lose are sodium and potassium, and a bit of magnesium and chloride. Summer months exacerbate the loss of electrolytes especially during prolonged exercise. Problems associated with the loss of these nutrients are cramping, lethargy, nausea, headaches, and in the most severe of cases, death can occur if you fail to replace electrolytes or you dilute them by taking in too much water.
How to prepare before your ride:
While most of the nutrients and electrolytes you need should come primarily from the food you eat, there are other methods to insuring your body is ready before you venture out on a summer ride. One rule of thumb is to start your ride well hydrated. Sipping on a balanced 16 oz sports drink an hour or two before you saddle up should be sufficient. There are many options out there so be sure to look for hydration drinks that have a mixture of water, sodium and potassium. These drinks are designed to replace fluid and salts lost before and during exercise.
During your ride:
If you’re riding under an hour a specific sports drink or hydration mix might not be necessary. However, if you are riding over an hour it is wise to add a carbohydrate drink into the mix. Carbohydrate drink mixtures that are consumed during pro-longed exercise help to delay fatigue and increase performance. Aim to consume roughly 30-60g of carbohydrate an hour. Much more than that can cause stomach issues. Another rule of thumb is to try to drink before you are thirsty. Generally speaking, plan to drink a sip of water or sports drink mix every 15-20 minutes.
After you ride:
Continue to drink water throughout your day. Add anti-inflammatory foods into your diet such as cherries or blueberries to help keep your body from swelling. You can even finish your ride with a nice slice of watermelon!
Want to make your own sports drink? Here’s a quick and easy recipe to try.
Cherry-Lemon Sports Drink
What you’ll need:
- 2.5 ounces of tart cherry juice
- 1 ounce lemon juice (or ½ of a large lemon)
- 2.5 tablespoons of honey
- 3.5 cups of water
- ¼ tsp salt
What to do:
Mix tart cherry juice, lemon juice, and honey into a 32 oz bottle. Add enough water to fill to the 32 oz line. Add salt. Shake until the honey has completely dissolved. Serve cold and enjoy!
Serving has approximately 70 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of protein, 14 grams of carbohydrate, 0 grams of fiber, 130 mg sodium, 39 mg potassium
Thanks Finn Taylor for contributing! For more information on her nutrition planning, meal planning and other services contact her here.