Why Your Body Requires More Water Before, During, and After Cycling
Like any kind of exercising, cycling dehydrates your body, especially in hot weather. This post aims to tell you all you need to know about keeping your body adequately hydrated before, during, and after cycling.
You lose fluids when you are cycling vigorously, because in order to lower your body temperature, you start sweating. Also, your respiratory rate increases. If your heart rate is 140 bpm, the amount of water you exhale quadruples to about 2.0-2.4 ounces/h – four times as much as when you are resting. So you are losing fluids via your skin and your respiration.
The higher the loss of fluids, the more important it becomes to have sufficient water intake. But on a bike ride of medium intensity or more, your body cannot absorb water as fast as it loses it. This means that it is a good idea to prepare yourself by having a drink one or two hours before you start your bike ride, in addition to drinking during and after you are done cycling.
The Best Drink to Hydrate for Cycling
When you sweat, you are not only losing water, you are also losing electrolytes (mainly sodium and potassium, and a bit of magnesium and chloride). These electrolytes have to be replaced, so your body can continue to function properly. Does this mean that you have to drink Gatorade to fill up your electrolyte tank? No, not necessarily.
It is important to know that most of the salts and minerals you ingest comes from the food you eat. So, if your diet includes green vegetables, a variety of nuts, and is well balanced overall, then that’s usually sufficient. However, if your workout is very intense and causes you to have an acute electrolyte deficit, it is a good idea to consider a sports drink. It does not have to be super fancy and contain hundreds of different ingredients that are supposed to boost your performance. Instead, stick to the basics:
- Fluid (water, RO purified if possible)
- Fast carbohydrates (different forms of sugar)
- Electrolytes (see above)
How to Make Your Own Hydration Drink
There are a number of products out there that may or may not be good for you. If you make your own hydration drink, you know exactly what is in it! There are plenty of good recipes for rehydrating drinks on the Internet, and basically, they are all just a combination of a fluid, plus something sweet and something salty. Many experts also recommend you add ice, to cool down your body while you are exercising and afterwards. For a quick fix, try coconut milk, which works well and is a natural product.
How Much Fluid Is Enough for Cycling?
Before Your Bike Ride:
Depending on your body weight, you should have about 16 ounces of fluid (2 cups) one or two hours before you start your ride. This way your body has time to absorb what’s needed and excrete what isn’t.
During Your Bike Ride:
Try to drink before you get thirsty. Two to three large gulps, which equals about six to eight ounces, every 15 to 20 minutes during the ride is usually enough. Eight ounces is equal to one cup.
After Your Bike Ride:
As mentioned before, your body can’t absorb water as fast as it loses it. But if you drank the recommended amount of fluid before and during your bike ride, the chances are that a glass of water or two combined with a healthy meal will be enough to fully refresh yourself after your bike ride.
Thanks to our Guest Blogger!
Conor Barrera is a health and fitness blogger currently preparing for his first cross triathlon. He is working towards becoming a respected figure in the industry and wants to establish himself as the go-to source for nutrition advice for hobby athletes.
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