You can have a super pimped-out bike, the sweetest clip-in cycling shoes, and the flashiest logo’d Lycra outfit on the road, but to get—and stay—good, you need to hydrate properly, and just plain H2O ain’t gonna cut it.
Ironically, water alone won’t keep you hydrated when you’re sweating during activity, which can lead to dehydration. Even a dehydration as low as 1.3 to 2 percent of your body weight can have negative affects on your performance, such as an increase in anxiety and tension, anger, fatigue, and confusion, according to the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut.
Try the formula below from Douglas Casa, Ph.D, CamelBak hydration advisor and COO of the Korey Stringer Institute (KSI) at the University of Connecticut to ensure that you’re staying properly hydrated.
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A. Weigh yourself naked on an accurate scale before an hour-long high-intensity activity, such as running or biking at your target race pace. Write down your body weight in kilograms. (To convert from pounds to kilograms, divide pounds by 2.2)
**Drink a measured amount of a beverage of your choice during the activity if/when you’re thirsty. It’s important that you keep track of exactly how much fluid in ounces that you took in during the activity.
B. After your activity, weigh yourself naked again on the same scale. Record your body weight in kilograms.
C. Subtract B from A.
D. Convert your total in C to grams by multiplying by 1,000.
E. Write down the amount of fluid you consumed during the run in milliliters. (To convert from ounces to milliliters, multiply ounces by 30.)
F. Add E to D.
This final figure is the number of milliliters that you need to consume per hour to remain well-hydrated. If you want to convert milliliters back to ounces, simply divide by 30 and then divide again by 16 to find out how many 16-ounce bottles you need to consume.
Now that you know how much to drink, you have to decide what to drink. I like to pop a Nuun tablet in my Camelbak bottle even if I’m only going out for an hour or so. If you’re not familiar with Nuun, it’s this antacid-looking tablet that fizzes and dissolves in water, adding much-needed electrolytes, which helps you absorb fluids faster. It contains only seven calories and is loaded with minerals, like calcium, magnesium, and potassium. I love how it’s not as sweet as Gatorade and it’s easy to stash a tube of 12 tablets in your bike pouch underneath your saddle. So rather than having to find a market on the road to get more Gatorade, all I need is access to a faucet, especially since Nuun comes in 11 awesome flavors, like lemonade and cherry limeade with caffeine, and watermelon.
Because I sometimes prefer to drink rather than eat for long rides, I make sure to have a little something extra in my bottles. No Lance Armstrong tactics here! My totally-legal go-go juice is called Roctane Energy Drink. It’s a satiating cocktail of complex and simple carbs that contains 240 calories (meaning you don’t need to eat when you’re drinking this), plus key electrolytes to help with hydration and increase performance. It also contains caffeine for an extra boost, taurine to fight fatigue, and beta-alanine, which is a naturally-occurring beta amino acid that pushes you power through intense efforts.