Optimal hydration in endurance racing- don't be a victim of Gaterade...
Updated: Mar 10, 2021
We have been given conflicting advice over the years as to what to drink before, during endurance events. Unfortunately a lot of this controversy has been driven by drinks companies and bad science they have employed to market their products- with 0% dehydration campaigns.
As normal our biology and evolution knows better. We have a well regulated internal sodium meter. When total body water content drops, sodium level rise. This increases thirst and prompts us to drink accordingly.
What is more dangerous is when total body water content rises and sodium levels drop ie. we overdrink. This is called Exercise Induced Hyponatremia. In this instance, cells in our blood and brain swell. In mild cases this can cause headache, lethargy and dizziness. In severe cases pressure in the skull increases and ability to regulate heart and breathing rates is compromised- the runner may loose consciousness. The brain can infact become so bloated it herniates out the base of the skull causing death.
In most individuals this excess water is excreted via the kidneys but in some the anti diuretic hormone is faulty.
Hyponatremia is diagnosed via blood and urine tests that measure sodium concentrations. Intravenous hypertonic saline solution is the most effective treatment for reversing symptoms.
Our awareness of Hyponatremia has improved in recent years but prevalence remains higher than it should be. Our message to you is simple- stay safe and drink to thirst!