How Much Water Should a Cyclist Drink

Cyclist Drinking Water
How much water should a Cyclist Drink? As a cyclist, I know how important it is to stay hydrated during rides. However, I am guilty of not drinking enough water, and it has negatively impacted some of my rides. After doing some research, I have realized just how crucial proper hydration is for cyclists. 

Negative impacts of not being properly hydrated as a cyclist.

Decreased Performance: When you are not properly hydrated, your body's ability to cool itself decreases, causing your body temperature to rise. This increase in body temperature can cause fatigue and decrease your cycling performance. As a result, you may experience a decrease in endurance, speed, and power output.

Increased Risk of Injury: Dehydration can also increase your risk of injury. When your body is dehydrated, your muscles are not as pliable as they should be, which can increase your risk of muscle strains and cramps. Additionally, dehydration can cause your joints to become stiff and increase your risk of joint injuries.

Mental Fatigue: Being dehydrated can also negatively impact your mental performance. Dehydration can cause you to feel irritable, confused, and fatigued. These mental symptoms can lead to poor decision-making, slow reaction times, and decreased focus, which can be dangerous while cycling.

Digestive Issues: Dehydration can also cause digestive issues while cycling. When you are dehydrated, your body produces less saliva, which can cause dry mouth and difficulty swallowing. Additionally, dehydration can cause constipation and diarrhea, which can be both uncomfortable and dangerous while cycling.

Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke: One of the most dangerous risks of dehydration is heat exhaustion and heat stroke. These conditions occur when your body's internal temperature rises to dangerous levels. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include nausea, dizziness, headache, and muscle cramps. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, which is a life-threatening condition. Symptoms of heat stroke include confusion, seizures, and loss of consciousness. I had a heat stroke on a long tour many years ago. I never want to go through anything like that again. You can read about it at this post titled, Why Hydration is Important When Cycling

According to the American Council on Exercise, a person should drink half their body weight in ounces of water per day. For example, if someone weighs 150 pounds, they should aim to drink 75 ounces of water each day (1). This is just a general guideline, and it's important to remember that individual water needs can vary based on several factors, including age, sex, activity level, and climate.

When researching how much water should a cyclist drink, this is what I found. For cyclists, it's recommended to drink at least 20 ounces of water per hour of cycling (2). This is especially important in hot and humid conditions, as dehydration can occur more quickly in these environments. Additionally, electrolyte replacement is also crucial during longer rides, as electrolytes are lost through sweat. Sports drinks can be a good option for replenishing electrolytes, but it's important to be mindful of the sugar content.

It's also important to note that thirst is not always an accurate indicator of hydration status. By the time you feel thirsty, you may already be dehydrated. That's why it's crucial to make a conscious effort to drink water before, during, and after rides. It can also be helpful to monitor your urine color, as dark yellow or amber urine can indicate dehydration.

In addition to drinking water, it's important to eat hydrating foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Watermelon, cucumbers, and strawberries are all examples of high-water-content foods that can aid in hydration.

How much water should a Cyclist Drink? Proper hydration is essential for cyclists. Drinking at least 20 ounces of water per hour of cycling, monitoring urine color, and eating hydrating foods can all help ensure adequate hydration. As someone who has experienced the negative effects of dehydration during rides, I know how important it is to prioritize hydration in my cycling routine.

References:

American Council on Exercise. (n.d.). How Much Water Should You Drink Per Day? Retrieved from https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/5942/how-much-water-should-you-drink-per-day/

Bicycling. (n.d.). How Much Water Should You Drink When Cycling? Retrieved from https://www.bicycling.com/health-nutrition/a20047757/how-much-water-should-you-drink-when-cycling/

Here is my next post:  Top 10 Tips for Bicycle Safety 

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