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Hydration during cycling

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The right hydration for cycling

So you've decided to take up cycling. Good for you! Whether currently at the Tour de France, in training or for a cycling marathon, a cyclist needs filled water bottles. Cycling is a great way to stay in shape, meet new people and learn about your neighbourhood. But did you know that proper hydration can make the difference between success and failure of your ride? Without water and the right electrolytes, your body cannot function properly and you will be exhausted and unable to finish what could have been an enjoyable ride. Now that you know this important fact, get some tips on how best to stay hydrated while cycling.

The benefits of proper hydration

The importance of staying hydrated cannot be overstated. Water is essential for the body to function and a lack of it can cause serious problems. Most people know that dehydration leads to fatigue and lack of energy, but did you know that it can also affect the health of your heart? If you don't drink enough water, your blood pressure rises - and as your blood pressure rises, so does your risk of heart disease or stroke.

The importance of drinking water while cycling is a topic that has been studied extensively by scientists, athletes and coaches. You might think that you just don't need to drink anything when cycling, but the truth is that proper hydration is crucial to your health and performance.

Drinking water while cycling: How much should you drink?

Most experts agree that you should drink at least two litres of water per day. This amount should be increased if you exercise regularly or do strenuous outdoor work in hot weather. When cycling, it is important to drink at least one litre of water per hour (more if you sweat heavily).

Also remember that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register your body's thirst signals - so drink before you feel thirsty!

Why is proper hydration important for cyclists?

Your body needs water because it regulates body temperature during exercise. Drinking enough water helps to prevent your muscles from cramping during exercise because they have enough fluid available for muscle function. It also prevents headaches and fatigue caused by dehydration.

To understand how this happens, we should look at how the circulatory system works:

The heart pumps oxygen-rich blood through arteries (for oxygen transport) and veins (for carbon dioxide transport) into our bodies.
When our bodies are low in fluid - or when we eat too much salt or fat, our kidneys produce more urine than normal because they have trouble keeping everything in the body when they have so little fluid around. This increased amount is passed on through urination until it eventually reaches its final destination at one end or the other, depending on how many times each cycle repeats within a given 24-hour period.
It should be noted, however, that if our cells hold too little salt and electrolytes, the ingested fluid no longer travels into the cells.

Dehydration: Not drinking enough is bad for your health

Cycling is a great way to exercise and stay healthy. But if you don't drink enough water and electrolytes, it can actually be harmful to your health!

Dehydration is when your body loses more water than it takes in. This can happen for many reasons - when cycling, you often sweat so much that you don't have time to drink enough water to replace the fluid and sodium lost through sweat. This is why it is so important to drink enough fluids when cycling: If you don't, your body won't be able to perform at its best.

Signs of dehydration include headaches, fatigue, dizziness and muscle cramps - all things that can affect your performance as a cyclist! While this is unpleasant in any situation, it's especially bad when it occurs while cycling, as it can make you unable to concentrate on the road or even cause an accident.

How much water do you need?

To work out how much water you need, you first need to consider several factors. These include your weight, how long you ride, how warm it is outside and how much you sweat. Here you can do a simple test and stand on the scales before and after your workout.

Serious cyclists should increase their fluid intake in proportion to their physical activity: If they ride more kilometres than average or train at higher altitudes where temperatures are lower and less oxygen is available (both of which increase sweat loss), they will need more fluid than someone who commutes by bike but rides shorter distances on a mild day at sea level and sweats little.

What to drink

It's not only the right amount that matters, but also the drink. Drinking pure water is still acceptable for short tours. For longer ones, and especially for very sweaty efforts, this is usually not enough.

Drinking water is the most important part of your hydration plan. Even if you are not thirsty, it is important to drink water regularly during a ride. Remember: dehydration can lead to headaches, dizziness and nausea - not to mention poor performance. Drink a bottle (500 ml) of water every hour on the bike.
Sports drinks such as le melo are also suitable for rehydration after training, as they replenish electrolytes lost through sweating. Sports drinks are not necessary for all cyclists, but those who sweat heavily or live in hot climates should consume them at least once an hour.
Coconut water is another good option for cyclists who want to replace their electrolytes on long rides in the saddle; it contains more potassium than Gatorade or Powerade. 
Lemonade may sound refreshing, but keep in mind that many juices are high in sugar, which can lead directly to fatigue because the body is over-sugared before it starts to climb again! Juice may tempt some riders with its sweet taste, but don't be fooled into thinking it's anywhere near your legs when cycling, because only sports drinks like le melo replenish the fluid lost through sweat during intense workouts like mountain biking.

Electrolytes, i.e. sodium

As you know, electrolytes are crucial for proper hydration. There are a number of electrolytes that can help you keep your body adequately hydrated while cycling, and one of them is sodium.  

Dehydration can lead to cramps and other problems that can affect your body and your athletic performance. The most common cause of dehydration is not drinking enough water or sports drinks during exercise.

When you sweat during exercise, you lose both water and electrolytes through your sweat pores. To maintain optimal water balance, you need to replace both fluids and electrolytes during exercise.

Electrolytes are minerals that help maintain fluid balance inside and outside the body's cells and support nerve impulses, muscle contractions and heart function; they also help regulate blood pressure by acting as a natural buffer against acidity in the blood.

Although sodium chloride (NaCl) is the main electrolyte lost through sweat (2), potassium chloride (KCl), magnesium sulphate (MgSO4), calcium carbonate (CaCO3) and lactate can also be lost in small amounts, depending on the intensity of exercise.

It's not just about the water

If you are cycling, you also need to think about how much sodium you are consuming. The average athletic person needs about 5-7 g per day, but the amount of sodium in the average diet is closer to 3,000 mg. As you sweat up to thirty per cent more when cycling, you need to make sure you take in enough sodium to compensate for the losses during the ride.

If you don't have a sports drink with electrolytes (e.g. le melo) with you, you should add some salt or an electrolyte mix to your water bottle before you leave the house. If you use a powder, you should stir it into very cold water. The colder the water is when it hits your tongue and stomach, the better the absorption!

Cycling drinks: isotonic and hypertonic

Hydration is one of the most important factors when cycling. If you're not adequately hydrated, you'll have a hard time reaching your fitness goals, and an even harder time getting through a long ride without getting sick or injured.

So what's the best way to stay hydrated while cycling?

The first step is to choose the right drink. You can choose between isotonic and hypertonic drinks, depending on how much water your body needs at any given time. Isotonic drinks contain fewer electrolytes than hypertonic drinks. This means they have lower concentrations of sodium and potassium than hypertonic drinks.

Isotonic drinks are better for shorter journeys as they do not overload the kidneys if you drink them on longer journeys (which could happen if you only drink hypertonic drinks). However, if you are travelling a long distance or taking part in a competition that lasts longer than two hours, it might be worth drinking a hypertonic drink instead of an isotonic one - especially if you plan to do this frequently!

Other things you should know to make sure you stay hydrated when cycling

Drinking water before you set off is a good way to ensure you stay hydrated, but it's also important to drink while you ride. If you wait until you are thirsty, it may be too late: By then, the symptoms of dehydration will have set in.

You should drink half a litre of water every 20 minutes - that's about two glasses per hour! And remember that this rule also applies when you are not sweating or breaking a sweat. Even if it's not so hot outside or the sun isn't beating down on you so much (e.g. if you're cycling uphill), your body needs fluids to stay hydrated during exercise.

It is also advisable to drink more water after cycling (or any other type of intense physical activity) - especially if it has been particularly hot outside! This will help to make up for both the lost electrolytes and the fluid loss due to heavy sweating during exercise. Just make sure you don't overdo it: Drinking two litres of water directly after exercise can lead to nausea and vomiting because you have too much fluid in your body at once.

Water is important to keep your body going. Drink.

Drink electrolytes in water. Lots of it!

Before you get thirsty, drink a little. The idea is to stay ahead of the game and prevent yourself from getting thirsty by taking in enough fluid to quench your thirst before you feel it - thus avoiding dehydration (which can cause big problems if not corrected). This is especially important if you exercise or do anything else that makes you sweat a lot.

Example: If it is 38 degrees outside, you should drink about 425 ml per hour if you are exercising or doing a work-related activity outdoors in hot weather. In very hot weather (above 38 degrees), increase this amount by 20%; if it is extremely hot outside (above 40 degrees), increase your drinking even more! Remember that these recommendations are calculated based on each person's average weight, so each person will need different amounts depending on their height and other factors such as age, etc.

So there you have it, a quick summary of how to stay hydrated while cycling. I hope that after reading this article you will be better informed about the benefits and proper hydration of cycling.

SWEATING DURING INTENSE TRAINING LEADS TO MINERAL AND ELECTROLYTE LOSS!

That's what le melo is for! From just one stick per workout: bye-bye muscle cramps and dizziness, hello joy during your workout (and afterwards).

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