Dehydration could be the culprit for red-lining in workouts

Performance limitations can be blamed on simple processes like nutrition, sleep, stress and hydration problems. Tweaking these rate limiters can lead to huge gains.

If you are redlining quickly, HR shoots up sooner than normal or you immediately have a problem catching your breath, think hydration. Being dehydrated by even 2% can cause a decrease in VO2 output by ~11%. The first sign of fatigue (physical and mental) happens when blood volume decreases. Heart rate shoots way up and thermoregulation drops.

Just because you are drinking water and urinating a lot doesn’t mean that you are actually absorbing the water in your body. Plain water doesn’t always work. Salts are more readily absorbed in the intestines. With so much of our community cleaning up their diets, we are consuming less salt.

Sodium Chloride (NaCl or table salt) is the most common salt in our diets and easily accessed. Sodium is the primary salt needed to increase plasma volume. Chloride, on the other hand, is less favorable. It is hard on the intestine and can cause bloating. A good sodium salt would be sodium citrate or sodium bicarbonate mixed with a little bit of the carbohydrates (CHO) glucose or sucrose (about 2-4% CHO.) CHO facilitate absorption in the gut.

Potassium is an important salt for all other water compartments in the body. Adding magnesium is also necessary if you are deficient.

Women have different needs. Menstrual cycle hormones affect thermoregulation, anabolism, plasma volume and fluid balance. When a woman is on her cycle, the hormones progesterone & estrogen are elevated. These hormones cause plasma volume to drop ~8%, body temperature to increase (worse at sweating), protein synthesis declines and time to fatigue is reduced. To combat these problems, women make sure you supplement with BCAAs before exercise and protein after. Protein facilitates water absorption and decreases progesterone’s effect on salt loss and muscle breakdown.

In conclusion, combat dehydration with the following:

  • Consume a solution with sodium citrate or sodium bicarbonate, potassium, magnesium, glucose or sucrose and maybe some BCAAs.
  • Avoid sodium chloride if possible.
  • Women who are on their menstrual cycle are more at risk and should take measures to further combat dehydration.
  • Read up on some detailed guidelines at from Dr. Stacy Sims.

Dehydration = low plasma volume = oxygen not transported through the blood quickly = can’t breathe = HR elevated = redline =  pain in workouts

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