Beat the Bonk – Critical hydration for cyclists

Beat the Bonk - Critical hydration for cyclists

Summer is almost here, but there’s still time to get a couple of BRMs under your belt. Like any other endurance sport, your performance on the trail comes down to not just training and nutrition in the lead up to your race, but also what you do on race day.

Hydration is one of those critical factors that can affect your performance, especially when we are talking about long distances. This becomes even more crucial when you are cycling in summer time temperatures when you are losing water and electrolytes are a higher rate.

‘Bonking’ is another concern. This phenomenon of feeling physically and mentally depleted occurs when your body has run out of the carbohydrate stores that it needs to keep you going. At the same time, you need a hydration source that is right for your stomach. A drink that has too much salt or one that is not isotonic can upset the fluid balance of your body. Too little hydration, and you face the risk of being dehydrated. Too much fluid intake, and you can end up with hyponatremia which can manifest itself in symptoms like nausea and diarrhea.

So, what’s the perfect hydration drink for long distance on your saddle? Water might feel great, but it cannot replenish you with electrolytes. On the other hand, just an electrolyte drink cannot provide you with the carbs that you need for fuel. The key is to pick an all-encompassing drink that fulfills all the physiological needs of your body at this stage. An ideal drink for long rides would contain the essential electrolytes (Sodium, Chloride, Magnesium, Potassium ) and 6-8% carbohydrates. The 6-8% carb ratio is crucial here – it is at this concentration that the drink remains isotonic.

Additionally, there are now hydration drinks available in India that also contain Betaine. Betaine is an osmolyte – a nutrient that protects your body from environmental stress like high temperatures. Osmolyte protect your cells from physiological shock. Evidence also suggests that osmolytes improve endurance capabilities. As an endurance athlete, every variable counts towards enhancing your performance. Ensuring that you are optimally hydrated can make the difference between a good performance and a great performance.

Don’t just train scientifically – hydrate scientifically. Beat the bonk. Ride into the magnificent sunset.

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