Copyright
Bruno Valeri
2003-2008






























 
 
 
 

<Return to index

Home





 

Hot weather riding tips

Why adding sports nutrition and vitamin supplements is a good thing

Electrolytes are our friends. They regulate many vital processes in our body. Some of the main players are: sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, calcium, bicarbonate, phosphate, sulfate.

So why are they important?

Electrolytes are used by our body to ensure proper cellular functioning. They regulate water levels and play vital roles for muscle, nerve, and brain function. Basically, they make sure that the water is where it is supposed to be and doing what it is supposed to do. And they supervise that this is so. Remember our example about the factory workers and the supervisors?

And this is no small task as our bodies are made of approx 60% water.

We know that water is a critical resource for our body processes. It not only is used for body cooling but to maintain cellular health and allow for body processes to function. As many know, we can live without food for several weeks, but die if without water for several days.

But it’s not a question of just drowning everything in water. Our system water levels and electrolytes need to be in balance. Not too much nor too little.

  • So water is only a resource that our body uses for its processes.
  • Electrolytes are what determine what to do with that resource.

For example, too dilute or too concentrated electrolyte levels can swell our brain cells with water or shrink them by pulling water out of the cell walls. And of course, this affects our thinking.

As with many things important to good functioning, our body monitors our electrolyte levels. Too low a level and we may get cravings. Too high a level and it dumps the excess in urine.

Speaking of cravings, if you ever enter a food mart, notice what you have a craving for. Chances are good that your body is speaking to you about what it needs.

So when do we need them?

For normal activities and sports, electrolyte levels are not a problem. Even when sweating heavily, most activities only last between 90 and 120 minutes. There isn’t enough sweat loss and water replacement to dilute our electrolyte levels beyond what is provided by a regular diet.

But motorcycle riding in hot weather for many hours provides a brutal and resource-depleting environment. Our cooling system is working with pedal to the metal ie at max capacity for a prolonged period of time. This is a very different game.

With heavy sweating, we can lose over 50 ounces per hour. This sweat is composed of body water and electrolytes. That’s why sweat tastes salty. If all we do is drink copious amounts of water, we dilute our electrolyte levels.

Result?

Our body gets the raw resource it needs for its processes, but it now lacks the elements that determine what to do with that resource. The delicate balance that our system requires is literally thrown out of whack.

Another consideration is that electrolytes work in balance with each other.

One way to ensure good electrolyte levels is by our choice of foods.

For example, orange juice and bananas are good items. Tomato juice or vegetable juice cocktail are also very good. But when travelling in hot weather for many hours, keeping perishable food items at a reasonable temperature is often a bother.

One solution that I find very convenient (from my athletic days) is to use sport nutrition supplements. They are relatively inexpensive and very convenient. Good sport nutrition supplementation provides a proper dose and balance of electrolytes and are easy to carry and take. I just pop a capsule when needed. They also don't give me a lot of what I might not want ie added sugars, fats etc. When drinking significant amounts of water over time, they remove the guesswork of wondering if my electrolyte levels are in balance.

Another option that I use are energy drinks that target more extreme activites. More on this later, as this is a whole subject in itself.

After considerable trial and error, I find this to be the most convenient way to ensure proper electrolyte levels when sweating for extended periods of time on a motorcycle. They keep well (are not heat sensitive), are easy to take, and allow my system to function at peak capacity while considerably reducing heat-related fatigue.


 

<Return to index

Home