BHealthy Blog

BDB 100: Best Hydration Tips for Cyclists Seeking Energy

Staying adequately hydrated is crucial for cyclists seeking to maintain their energy levels during long rides. Proper hydration can help replenish electrolytes and provide the necessary fuel to keep you going. In contrast, dehydration can significantly impact performance and overall well-being. 

Dr. Jheanelle Dawkins, a physician at Sherwood Family Medical Center-A Baptist Health Affiliate, offers four hydration tips for cyclists to ensure adequate hydration before, during and after the ride.

1. Hydrate Before the Race

Before hitting the road, it’s crucial to hydrate adequately. Start the day with a glass of water and continue to drink fluids leading up to the race. Aim to consume around 16-20 ounces of water a few hours before the race to kick-start the hydration process.

2. Hydrate During the Race

During the race, it’s important to maintain hydration to support energy levels and prevent dehydration. Consider using a hydration pack or water bottles mounted on the bike for easy access to fluids. Sip water or a sports drink regularly—about 6-8 ounces every 20 minutes—to replenish fluids lost through sweat and keep energy levels steady.

3. Choose the Right Hydration Drinks

Opt for hydrating drinks that not only quench thirst but also replenish electrolytes. Look for options with a good balance of electrolytes and lower sugar content to support hydration without causing a sugar crash.

Water with Electrolyte Tablets: One of the simplest and most effective options is to add electrolyte tablets to your water. These tablets are designed to replenish key electrolytes that are lost through sweat, such as:

  • sodium
  • potassium
  • magnesium  

Electrolytes can also help prevent cramping and keep your energy levels steady throughout your ride.

Sports Drinks: Sports drinks are formulated to replace electrolytes and provide carbohydrates for energy. Look for drinks that are lower in sugar and contain a good balance of electrolytes to support hydration and energy levels without causing a sugar crash. This balance is designed to keep your energy levels steady and prevent any sudden drops.

4. Post-Race Hydration

After the race, focus on rehydrating to replenish fluid and electrolyte loss. Drink plenty of water and consider consuming a balanced electrolyte drink to aid recovery. Aim to drink at least 16-24 ounces of fluid for every pound lost during the race to restore optimal hydration levels.

How Do You Know If You Are Dehydrated?

Dehydration and lack of electrolytes can cause serious health issues and damage to the kidneys, brain and liver. It’s important to seek help from a health care provider if your symptoms are severe. Here are a few symptoms of dehydration:

  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Increased heart rate
  • Muscle cramps
  • Stomach upset
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Passing small amounts of urine infrequently (less than three or four times a day) 
  • Dark-colored urine 

Listen to Your Body

Every cyclist’s hydration needs are unique. Listening to your body and adjusting your hydration strategy is essential. Weather conditions, race intensity, and individual sweat rates can all influence how much fluid you need. Dr. Dawkins also suggests paying attention to thirst cues and aiming to maintain clear or light yellow urine, which indicates good hydration status.

For more information on nutrition and hot weather training tips for cyclists, visit here