Many of us are guilty of not drinking enough water and it is often when we are busy or not feeling as active as usual, that we forget to drink regularly. However, staying hydrated is key, especially in this warmer than normal weather.
Drinking enough water each day is crucial for many reasons including:
- To regulate body temperature,
- Keep joints lubricated,
- Prevent infections,
- Deliver nutrients to cells,
- Keep organs functioning properly,
- To improve sleep quality, cognition, and mood.
Staying hydrated is an essential component every time you get on your bike. It’s one of the things that riders often overlook but paying attention to it can help make improvements in your cycling as well as everyday health and well-being.
Did you know a 2% drop into dehydration can lead to a drop of up to 13% power output, so making sure you’re hydrated is vital on the bike.
HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU DRINK?
We cannot stress enough how important it is for you to drink before you're thirsty on any endurance-style ride.
Everyone is different depending on sweat and exercise levels, size, and climate they live in but you can assess if you are drinking enough by using our Urine Hydration chart to get an idea of your current hydration levels.
Urine Hydration Chart
See how your urine compares to the colours in the chart to give you an indication of how hydrated you are.
In order to help your hydration levels, we recommend you start each morning with a warm glass of water with lemon to help rehydrate the body and boost your digestive system before breakfast. During the night, your body has been in rest mode and most likely, you haven't had anything to eat or drink for several hours. IT'S ALSO MUCH BETTER THAN GRABBING A COFFEE FIRST.
To make, squeeze half a lemon into a mug of warm water. To Infuse more flavour or add a health boost, try adding a few springs of mint, a teaspoon of maple syrup or raw honey, a slice of fresh ginger, a dash of cinnamon or a sprinkle of turmeric.
The aim every time you jump on your bike should be to never start a ride or a session dehydrated. This is key to ensuring you are able to perform well on the bike. For a little more guidance see our recommendations below for fuelling before, during and after a training session.
3-4 hours before a training session you should start consuming 300-500ml of water, ideally with electrolytes. There is no need to drink all this water at once but ensure you have consumed that amount in the lead-up to your session.
During exercise of any duration, hydration should be your key focus. When riding for more than an hour we recommend you always have 2 bottles of water with you, especially if on a long endurance ride or hard training session (threshold or above) and ideally with electrolytes.
Below we will recommend how much water you should be consuming depending on the length of exercise. If it's a particularly hot day, these should all go up.
- Exercise lasting less than 1-hour we recommend you stay hydrated with 300-600ml/hr of water. An electrolyte can also help, particularly if it's a warm day or you sweat a lot.
- During exercise lasting 1-2 hours, you will need to ensure you stay hydrated with 300-1000ml/hr of water and an electrolyte, depending on the heat and your sweat rate.
- Exercise lasting longer than 2-3 hours, we recommend you stay hydrated with 750-1500ml/hr of water and an electrolyte, depending on the heat and your sweat rate.
Njinga Tip: When you’re out on the bike it can be hard to stay on top of your hydration and suddenly you’re an hour into your ride and you haven’t had anything to drink. The key is to always drink before you're thirsty and therefore we do recommend little and often when it comes to drinking on the bike.
We recommend taking a small sip of water every 15 minutes or so. It can also help to stay on top of your hydration by taking 3-4 sips of water every time you eat something on your bike.
IMMEDIATELY AFTER EXERCISE
Finally, after you have finished a session on the bike you should continue drinking lots of fluids and adding sodium for rehydration, (subject to the intensity of the session).
We mentioned above about including electrolytes in your drink before, during and after exercise, but why is this?
When it comes to hydration it is not just a case of drinking water, you have to make sure that your body has the electrolytes that it requires. Electrolytes are the minerals that the human body needs in order to function properly and they help you retain the fluids you’re drinking. From a training point of view, they regulate water levels in the body, blood volume, and muscle and nerve function.
At Njinga, we highly recommend Elete electrolyte solution: It is a 100% natural electrolyte solution (key minerals: sodium, magnesium, potassium, and chloride). There are also no sugars or preservatives. Simply add some drops to your water bottle and you’re ready to go! Buy yours from the Njinga Lab.
We hope the above has given you a good indication of the importance of hydration and also how much you should be drinking before, during and after training on the bike. Our top takeaways are:
- Drink before you are thirsty. This is key as drinking when you are already thirsty is a sign that you are dehydrated.
- Add an electrolyte to your water when training to help keep you hydrated. We recommend Elete Electrolytes which you can purchase from the Njinga Lab.
- Staying hydrated is important to ensure you can maintain your performance levels.
- Ensure you are starting any training session hydrated and consume the correct amount of fluids during and after a training session to prevent dehydration.
For more tips and support with your cycling, check out the Njinga Cycling Academy. Our one stop cycle training platform for amateur riders looking to improve their cycling.