Even earlier than the 1800s, studies have already been conducted on hydration status and physical function. However, the connection between the two was already established even centuries before that. We are all aware of the importance that water plays in our survival. The fact that we lose water even if don’t engage in any strenuous activity, makes it all the more important we place special attention to hydration when engaging in high-intensity activities like cycling. If you have one of the best water bottles for cycling, this won’t be much of a concern, however.
Water serves essential functions of the different systems of the body to keep you on the go, such as the following:
- Every cell in the body depends on it; it acts as a building material;
- It helps the body regulate internal body temperature by sweating and respiration;
- Water in the bloodstream help metabolize and transport carbohydrates and proteins that our bodies use as food;
- It aids in flushing out body wastes mainly through urination
- Water serves as a shock absorber for the brain, spinal cord, and fetus
- It lubricates the joints
Approximately two-thirds of the human body is composed of water. However, our body loses water when it flushes out toxins in the body when you urinate, defecate, perspire, and even when you just breathe. Thus, there’s no question about the need to have lost fluids replaced regularly as this will keep the body’s performance level at its peak.
Professional teams take hydration seriously. That’s the reason why athletes weighed daily and their urine samples are taken to keep track of their hydration levels. It doesn’t matter if you are engaging in a low-level activity or, perhaps out almost daily to train, or participate in a multi-day race and other high-intensity engagements. If your body is not sufficiently hydrated, you’ll end up be compromising your performance. This will also limit the benefits that you will get from your training and also makes muscle recovery take longer than necessary.
Dehydration Limits Your Performance Levels
Literature indicates that a 2% weight loss (2 1/2 lbs. In a 120lbs athlete) can result in an impaired performance by up to 20%. A 120lb-athlete can easily lose 2 1/2 lbs in an intense event. If the amount of the fluid that you lose while engaging in high-intensity sports like cycling is significantly higher than the water intake, there will be no doubt that your performance will be compromised. Bob Murray, Ph.D., indicates in his article which was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, that “a decrease in body water from normal levels (often referred to as dehydration or hypohydration) provokes changes in cardiovascular, thermoregulatory, metabolic, and central nervous function that become increasingly greater as dehydration worsens.”
When dehydration strikes you’ll start experiencing hallucinations and may experience heat stroke. In severe cases of dehydration, even death can become a possibility.
But you cannot just depend on your thirst before you grab your water bottle or sports drink to rehydrate. By then about 2% of the water volume in your body has already been depleted. Even if you drink more than necessary, it will take some time before the replacement fluid will reach your bloodstream. That means you become even more dehydrated by the time loss fluid replacement is delivered where it is needed.
By then you will be experiencing drastic changes in your performance levels and this is due to the following results of dehydration:
- Reduction in the blood volume
- Decreased sweat rate
- A decrease in the dissipated heat
- An increase in the core temperature
- An increased use of muscle glycogen
- A decrease in digestive function
Monitor your hydration level
You will need to weigh yourself daily and monitor the color of your urine to determine your hydration level. If your weight has dropped significantly before and after a training, or if the color of your urine is a dark yellow, then that means that you will need to drink water more often.
You will need to drink about 20 to 24 ounces of water for every pound that you lose while on the go.
Hydration is a lifestyle. Just as you need to eat and breathe continuously to live and be active, you also need to continuously provide your body with water. It’s the simplest and the quickest thing that you can do to remain properly hydrated and always be at your best. Try to consume about 2-3 liters of fluids every day even if you do not need to go out to ride. Fruits and vegetables are also good sources of fluid replacement for the body, as well as juices and sports drinks. Alcohol, tea, coffee and sugar-laden drinks are not.
Hydration before, during, and after a ride
Pre-Hydrate. You need to consume about 500ml of fluids the night prior to the event. When you wake up, drink another 500ml. You will also need to sip fluids for the rest of the day, up to event or activity.
Hydrate on the go. For every 15-20 minutes of activity drink 300-500ml of fluids. Your hydration level will depend on factors like environmental conditions, sweat rate, gastric tolerance, and so on. Observe the confines and rules of the sport when hydrating.
Rehydrate after the activity. Consume 20-24 ounces of fluid for every pound that you lost during the activity. For training/biking/activities that last longer than an hour, you will need to re-hydrate with a diluted sports drink or juice mixture. You may need to stop if your weight loss is greater than 2% of your body weight.
If you have been monitoring and keeping on top of your day-to-day hydration, there is no need to drink more than necessary the night before your scheduled training or ride. Just make sure that you have one of the best water bottles with you every time you set out for a ride as this will make it easier for you to drink smartly even while on the track.