The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa

2018 RAGBRAI

Five Things You Didn’t Know About Hydration

  1. Hydration is energy (for your muscles)
    Most people think that the main purpose of hydration is to help prevent dehydration, and to replenish electrolyte stores that may be lost via sweat. Although both of those are true (recent studies have shown that electrolytes may play greater roles in fluids absorption than sweat replenishment), the fundamental goal of hydration is to delivery oxygen to working muscles. Try to think about hydration or the fluid you are consuming as a way of helping your muscles breathe, which in turn gives them the energy they need to perform.
  2. Water does not hydrate you.
    Yes, you read that correctly! While water does fundamentally provide your body with fluid, it does not truly hydrate you. Water needs to be in a specific concentration (composing of carbohydrates and electrolytes) to exit the stomach and move into circulation where it can be used by the body. Our water needs to contain sodium to ensure proper fluid absorption. To make matters even more complicated, your “water” should contain different amounts of carbohydrates and electrolytes before/during/after your workout!
  3. Proper hydration will help mitigate gastric distress during exercise.
    To put it simply, when you are exercising, your body (stomach) is under stress. There are ways you can eat and drink to mitigate that stress, or to encourage it. When it comes to hydration, if the ratio of carbohydrates to fluid is too high or the electrolyte profile is too low, the delivery of fluid slows down, and sits in the stomach. That’s what causes sloshing, and GI issues during racing.
  4. Hydration will help you fuel better.
    This builds on the previous point. With proper hydration you can help eliminate the GI issues that can come with it, and allow faster and more efficient fueling. this is achieved by not overloading your system, and using multiple pathways to absorb fluids and carbohydrates.
  5. Hydration aids in recovery.
    One area that is very crucial to the recovery process is rehydrating. Rehydrating not only replenishes fluids lost during exercise, but it also aids in replenishing the electrolytes that were also lost. Keep in mind: drinking too much too fast can degrade the potential gains of the workout, here’s why: Your body over time has developed a strong immune system that helps repair itself when it is under the stresses of exercise. therefore, naturally you want your body to begin repairing itself, and slowly rehydrate, and continue to hydrate throughout the day.

Nuun Hydration is the official hydration partner of RAGBRAI. Head over to nuunlife.com to stock up on your hydration supply and train with what will be on RAGBRAI.

3 Comments

David Pickett, Jun 23, 2018 at 8:45 am

What is the right ratio of carbs to electrolytes to water? And what products provide it? I’m guessing you’ll say nunnlife products do. How about Gatorade and other sports drinks? Also, if I’m reading the nutrition label, what should I look for? Thanks.

DB, Jun 25, 2018 at 9:11 pm

While on Ragbrai is it possible to over do electrolytes?? Is there a product that’s better than others for maintaining the best ratio?? Pros/Cons to using tablets over sports drinks?? Thanks!!

Charlie Somerdyk, Jul 8, 2018 at 7:56 pm

The simple answer to overdoing electrolytes is “yes” but it’s not particularly easy to do and not really worth worrying about unless you suffer from certain medical conditions. If you have serious concerns, you should discuss with your primary care provider though.

As far as products, I dislike the taste of most sports drinks and am not a fan of the water additives for the same reason. I’ve been using Lyte capsules instead – no sugars, yeast, wheat products etc – but decent amounts of the important minerals Ca, K, Mg, Z (more than the sports drinks) and some micro nutrients. You must take the capsules throughout the day and of course, always with adequate amounts of water. I think the dosing recommendations are too high (two capsules every 30 – 60 mins) and have had good results at abouy half the suggested rate.YMMV and again, if you have serious concerns about dosing, a brief chat with your PCP is in order.

I’m sure there are other good products beside Lyte, but it’s the only one I’m familiar with.

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