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By Nick Kleban, elite cyclist // Team Skyline & President of Mcgill cycling

While most people know that drinking water is good for them, there are still misconceptions about hydration. As a junior racer, I used to try to cut corners in races by squirting energy gels into my water bottles. The result; a thick viscous solution that was nearly impossible to drink. To avoid being like me, here are 8 common myths about water and hydration.

Caffeinated Drinks Cause Dehydration 

Although large doses of caffeine alone can dehydrate you, the water in your coffee, soda or tea more than make up for it. If you feel you have to pee right after that cup-of-Joe, it is likely from the water you just drank in the coffee, since, as mentioned, coffee is not a diuretic.

Water is all you really need

In addition to getting enough water, we also need to make sure we are getting enough electrolytes, especially after sweating during a workout. The key is maintaining homeostasis, therefore the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends 120-170 mg of sodium and 19-46 mg of potassium for each 8 fl oz (double for a 500 ml water bottle). Research has shown that individual needs can be up to 1200 mg of electrolytes per litre.

If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated 

Your body’s thirst sensations are actually a pretty accurate thirst gauge. The kidneys control the body’s water balance, so when they sense the need for water replacement, they send a message to the brain which makes us drink more by feeling thirsty.

Dehydration Causes Cramps 

During prolonged exercise, experiencing the occasional muscle cramp is quite common, however pinpointing the underlying cause may be challenging. Though dehydration may be a contributing factor , other (and possibly more likely) reasons may be electrolyte imbalance or plain muscle overuse.  Athletes who cramp a lot should consider adding a strength and mobility plan to their training.

Sports drinks contain all the needed electrolytes 

Tying into myth #2, #4, many think they are covered with their trusted sports drink. However,most sports drinks don’t provide enough sodium, arguably the electrolyte you need to replace the most (if they had enough sodium, they’d likely taste terrible). Read the ingredients on the label of your sports drinks, and supplement as needed, preferably with XACT ELECTROLYTES

Beer is good for Rehydration and Glycogen Replacement 

Unlike caffeine, alcohol is in fact a diuretic (increases the production of urine). Furthermore, only ⅓ of the calories from beer come from carbohydrates, while the rest are empty calories from the alcohol, SO after a workout, rehydrate properly before getting that well deserved beer.

Drinking lots of water will help you lose weight 

While the act of drinking water alone will not help you lose weight, it can indirectly help as it may help you eat less at mealtime. One study showed that people on a reduced calorie diet who drank 2 cups of water 30 minutes before their meals lost 44% more weight than those on a reduced calorie diet alone.

No such thing as too much water 

Drinking excess amounts of water in a short duration can cause hyponatremia, meaning low blood sodium. When the body has more water than it can process, the cells in the brain and the rest of the body will swell, which can cause symptoms and in extreme cases even death. Not to worry though, this is a rare condition and is mostly observed in marathon runners drinking both too much water and not taking enough electrolytes with it.

Sources

Dennis, E. A., Dengo, A. L., Comber, D. L., Flack, K. D., Savla, J., Davy, K. P., & Davy, B. M. (2010). Water consumption increases weight loss during a hypocaloric diet intervention in middle-aged and older adults. Obesity, 18(2), 300–307.

Hydration on the bike. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/knowledge/nutrition/drinking-on-bike/article/izn20140514-Nutrition-Hydration-101-0

Irons, K., Marsh, J., MD, B., & Ford, K. (2018, April 01). What You Should Know About Electrolytes. Retrieved from https://www.roadbikerider.com/what-you-should-know-about-electrolytes-d3/

Leib, D. E., Zimmerman, C. A., & Knight, Z. A. (2016). Thirst. Current Biology, 26(24), R1260–R1265. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2016.11.019

Zhang, Y., Coca, A., Casa, D. J., Antonio, J., Green, J. M., & Bishop, P. A. (2015). Caffeine and diuresis during rest and exercise: A meta-analysis. J. Sci. Med. Sport, 18(5), 569–574.



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