Everyone knows your body is a machine that needs fluids to operate effectively. Fun fact, your body is more than 60% water, and even light exercise can lower that percentage. You need those fluids to function, and you definitely don't want to feel burned out in the middle of an awesome ride.
As a cyclist, proper hydration is essential to maintaining performance, avoiding fatigue, and reducing the risk of injury. Whether you're a recreational cyclist or a professional athlete, these guidelines will help you ensure that you're properly hydrated during your rides.
The Benefits of Staying Well Hydrated
- More energy
- Fight the fatigue!
- Stay cooler, feel better.
- Go farther, faster with more power.
- Burn more calories.
- Reduce your recovery time so you can go out and do it all over again.
Signs of Dehydration
Did you know once you start to feel thirsty, signs of dehydration have just begun? Don't let it get pass this point! If you ignore this, your body will react and show signs of slowing down. Some signs include a dry mouth and a decrease in energy. These can then quickly lead to cramps, headaches and nausea if left untreated. Drink that water!
- Know your sweat rate: Your sweat rate is the amount of fluid you lose during exercise, and it can vary greatly from person to person. To determine your sweat rate, weigh yourself before and after a ride, and then subtract the difference from the amount of fluid you consumed during the ride. This will give you an estimate of your sweat rate, which you can use to determine how much fluid you need to consume during future rides.
Start hydrated: Before you start your ride, make sure you're already hydrated. Aim to drink about 17-20 ounces of water 2-3 hours before you start riding. This will help ensure that you start your ride with optimal hydration levels.
Drink before you're thirsty: Thirst is not an accurate indicator of hydration status. By the time you feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated. So, it's important to drink fluid regularly throughout your ride, rather than waiting until you feel thirsty. Aim to drink about 7-10 ounces of fluid every 10-20 minutes during your ride. Shop water bottles and hydration packs
Choose the right fluids: Water is the best fluid for hydration, but it's not always enough to replace the electrolytes lost through sweat. Sports drinks, such as Gatorade or Powerade, can help to replenish lost electrolytes and provide some energy. However, these drinks can also be high in sugar, so it's important to choose a product that is appropriate for your needs.
Avoid dehydrating drinks: Caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and soda, can increase fluid loss and lead to dehydration. So, it's best to avoid these drinks before, during, and after your rides. Alcohol should also be avoided, as it can dehydrate the body and impair your performance.
Pay attention to the weather: Hot and humid weather can increase fluid loss, so it's important to drink more fluid during these conditions. On the other hand, cold weather can reduce fluid loss, so you may need to drink less fluid during these conditions.
Post-ride hydration: After your ride, it's important to rehydrate. Aim to drink about 20-24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost during the ride. This will help to replace the fluid lost through sweat and prevent dehydration.
Can you Overhydrate?
Too much of a good thing, even water, can have negative side effects.
Tips to not Overhydrate
- Try not to drink more than you sweat.
- Keep your salt levels balanced by drinking a sports drink with electrolytes instead of plain water and/or eating a salty snack such as pretzels.
- Drink while you're exercising and you'll be less likely to drink too much.
In conclusion, proper hydration is an essential part of cycling and can help to improve performance, prevent fatigue, and reduce the risk of injury. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that you're properly hydrated during your rides and able to perform at your best and HAVE FUN!