How To Keep Hydrated and why it matters

It's Getting Hot Out There: Please Do Not Take Off All Your Clothes

As the weather warms up, one thing none of us can avoid is increased levels of perspiration.

Lets face it, we all sweat! No one likes it, no one likes to admit it and we definitely don’t like to talk about it but it’s just a fact. Perspiration is as innate as breathing (and actually almost as useful).  In other posts we’ve talked about what to wear in summer conditions here we’re going to think about perspiration and why it is more than an inconvenient truth. 

Let’s stop being quite so English, pause, observe what’s really going on and suggest how best to deal with it. Oh and if you’re concerned you’ve accidentally veered onto a blog for elite cyclists you haven’t this issue affects all of us. 

What’s Going On

Sweat is our bodies natural cooling mechanism helping to regulate our bodies temperature and is therefore critically important. 95% of perspiration is simply water. To state the obvious this means we’re shedding water an essential ingredient of our well being and often at a rapid rate. Failure to replace both water and electrolytes (more of them later) will lead to dehydration evidenced no where more clearly than in a lack of heat tolerance. Put differently; fail to deal with it and perspiration quickly becomes less of an awkward embarrassment and more of a serious health concern.

Caution The Breeze

Add a breeze to the mix and you might think nature has gifted you a cooling treat. Be careful! Without the breeze you feel sweaty and sticky which is a pretty accurate description of what’s going on and your bodies need to deal with it. A gentle breeze will increase the speed with which your sweat evaporates, the danger is that you then loose any sense of how much fluid you are loosing and the urgent need to deal with the situation correctly.  

When Shaving Isn’t Cool

Shave or excessively pluck your eyebrows and a summers day on the bike will quickly remind you what they’re for. In short your eyebrows catch perspiration rolling from your forehead towards your eyes. When the salt contained in your sweat rolls into your eyes you’ll know about it! 

Drink: Before, During and After

It’s good practice to be sipping water not only when your on the saddle but before and after your ride. Note we said ‘sip’ and not ‘gulp’. 

Prevent The Warning Signs

Thirst is your body’s way of warning you that you are dehydrated. It’s a pysical reaction resulting from a concentration of electrolytes in your blood resulting from a loss of fluid.  Remember the key to your wellbeing is not to get dehydrated in the first place. Drink before you need to not when you need to. Be equally cautious of immediate thirst satisfaction this is a mental response to the immediate replenishment of vital resources but your body takes a while to catch up to a real terms balance. Drink beyond the immediate satisfaction. 

Sip, Don’t Gulp

As a very general rule of thumb its best to think in terms of replenishing fluid at the same rate as it is being lost; in other words, gradually and ALWAYS before you think you need to. On a warm summers day you are far better to take a few mouthfuls of water every few minutes than to gulp vast quantities at the end of your journey. It’s equally pointless to ‘tank up’ before your ride and will only leave yo needing a jimmy riddle. 

More Than Water

When you sweat you not only loose water you loose vital electrolytes (the stuff that makes your sweat taste salty!) most importantly sodium and chloride. Put most simply electrolytes act as a means of exchange within your body brining nutrients into your cells and discharging waste into your blood. After a gentle ride the loss of electrolytes in your sweat will be replaced by any good and balanced diet. If you’ve spent more time out in the sun and on the saddle thus perspiring significantly you’ll need to think about replacing these with a supplement. If you simply increase your consumption of water you will further distort your body’s finely tuned balance of electrolytes. Electrolytes are in nearly all sports drinks just check the label for one containing between 400-1100mg per litre. Remember that supplements are no substitute for a balanced diet. 

Carry It With You

The aesthetics of a ruck sack stylewater container (hump) leave much to be desiredand are strictly against the rules they are however a highly efficient means of keeping hydrated. Alternatively (and it’s our preference) stick within the rules and invest in a couple of decent water bottle. By decent we mean BPA free. The jury is out on the accuracy of these claims so it’s good practice to routinely change these bottles especially if they spend significant time exposed to sunlight. 

Remember The Little People

There is nothing makes my heart sink more than when I see parents cycling with their kids but much more preoccupied with themselves. Keep an eye out for the little people. Make sure they drink plenty even if they swear they're fine and just want to go and play! 

Warning Signs

Keep an eye on the colour of your pee! If your urine is anywhere between yellow and (God forbid!) brown you are dehydrated and need to sort it out urgently! If it’s brown you’ll feel like your peeing razor blades and this blog will be the last thing you need to remind you to sort it out!!!

Four quick notes of caution (legal crap). 

1: If you think your levels of perspiration are excessive make an appointment with your GP.

2: If you consume water but appear not to perspire see your GP.

3: If you think you’re too bad ass for any of the above remember hospital food is a very acquired taste. 

4: Under sweating and over sweating should be treated with an equal degree of seriousness! Not sweating is not cool.