Words and photo: Julia Revitt
This is the sixth and last article in my series about what to eat and drink before, during and after riding. So, you’ve been out having a great day riding, the sun’s been warming your back, you’ve eaten your flapjack and got a smile on your face! Hopefully, when you’ve returned home or back to the car you won’t have a headache or raging thirst. Congratulations, you’ve nailed your hydration technique. Now you need to rehydrate…
You’ll need to sip water, drink tea or juice until your urine returns back to clear or pale yellow and you need to urinate regularly – this could take several hours or even several days if you have miscalculated your fluid requirements. If you take vitamin supplements they could affect the colour of your urine so you will have to judge hydration by volume and how often you need to go.
You can drink too much water, which is actually dangerous but this is quite rare – as long as you sip rather than gulp, you should be fine. Hyperhydration is only usually a problem in the ‘weekend warrior’ who is a bit unfit, sweats a lot and diligently drinks a lot, or the plodder who has been out all day. He thinks he’s doing the right thing but he’s drinking water faster than his body can make urine. Water sloshes around his stomach and is not comfortable. If he carries on, it can lead to hyponatremia if his blood sodium levels drop too much. If this sounds like you, cut down on the amount of fluid you consume while riding and recover with an electrolyte drink, which will replace those valuable nutrients.
An electrolyte drink is a good idea for anyone who has been out all day, especially if you’ve been sweating a lot. There are lots to choose from but as ever, the golden rule is not to try anything new before a long ride – you don’t want stomach problems while in the middle of nowhere.
Watery foods such as apples, melons, soups and smoothies will help to hydrate you too and can also help replace lost electrolytes. This can help if you just can’t drink any more water – go for a chicken soup and a glass of orange juice instead.
Some sports drinks manufacturers make a recovery drink which may help you to recover quickly. The idea is that you drink the recovery drink after your training which delivers just what your body needs when it needs it so that your recovery time is reduced. These contain some protein to help your muscles recovery quickly and will replace the need for food after the ride – follow the instructions on the bottle. I personally have problems drinking recovery drinks and can only face water after a strenuous day. For me water and food works best but experiment to find out what works for you.