Research (1) carried out among elite endurance athletes shows that performance-crippling dehydration could occur for a number of reasons during training or events, including a poor drinking strategy and a failure to regularly take on fluids.
In his new book Fuelling The Cycling Revolution, Nigel Mitchell, the sports nutritionist to British Cycling and TeamSky among others, highlights why this occurs in elite athletes. ‘Even among the pros, some riders are better at remembering to drink than others – but if you tend to forget, setting an alarm is a good idea,’ says Mitchell.
endur8 is designed to manage a cyclist or runner’s refuelling regime during training and races, alerting them to take on carbs and address their nutritional needs at specific, optimal calculated points along their route. Since exercise has been shown to supress thirst, and focusing on an event can distract an athlete from drinking even further, the monitoring and managing of fuelling by endur8 may contribute to an athlete’s management of their hydration levels if they’re consuming carbs in the form of fluids.
Studies have shown that consumption of a carbohydrate drink on rides lasting over 60 minutes can boost endurance, provide muscles with additional fuel (2) and even delay the onset of fatigue to improve performance data by as much as 20 per cent.(3)
Refuelling during your ride or run, using the endur8 app as a prompt and on consuming carbs in the form of a sports drink will not only help maintain your energy levels but also contribute to you remaining properly hydrated, fully concentrated and help combat the reported issues of athletes ‘forgetting’ to rehydrate.
One litre of an isotonic carbohydrate drink contains 60g of carbs, so aiming for around 250ml every 15-20 minutes will help fend off fatigue and combat dehydration. Other ways of ensuring you’re well hydrated during and around training and events, as recommended by British Cycling (4), include taking on 500-750ml of isotonic carbohydrate sports drink in the 120 minutes leading up to a ride.
Regularly drinking fruit juices and eating citrus fruits and watermelon in the days prior to a long session on the road as well as avoiding alcohol and caffeine, which cause dehydration will help too. Checking the colour if your urine – the darker it is the more likely you are in need of taking on more water – is also a tactic used by many runners and riders to monitor hydration.
Energy drinks usually contain quick-to-digest soluble carbohydrates – like fructose and dextrose – mixed with water which can pass easily from the digestive tract into the blood stream. In some instances these drinks contain more complex solutions featuring ingredients such as sodium and now protein, which it has been suggested can help stimulate thirst (5) and increase the amount of fluid athletes consume whilst replacing minerals lost through sweat too.