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Thread: Water Poisoning

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    Water Poisoning

    There are various news stories about a water drinking contest gone wrong. A women died.
    I want to report that by my own experience this is a serious matter for long distance bikers also.
    I just completed a training program in Florida where I biked 100 miles/day for about 23 days.
    The water consumption exceeded 2 liters/hour. I balanced water consumption with sport drinks because of a very bad experience one year ago. (BTW: Healthy kidneys can process 1.0 liter/hour)
    I trained 100 miles on a hydraulic trainer for six hours and consumed 12 bottles of water plus food.
    I was puking much of the following night and found out later that I could have died from that.
    (See Google under water poisoning)
    Many of us do not like sport drinks because they are bad for teeth and waistline and cost money.
    However, this is serious stuff.

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    Used to be a climber.. GuitarWizard's Avatar
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    Over 2 liters per HOUR? Holy Christ....at the most, I'll drink a 24 oz. waterbottle in an hour.
    1999 Trek 2500 - hit by a car on it in May, 2011 and currently bikeless

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    With regard to this story, I had a thought about preparing for a water drinking contest. I'm sure I'm way off base in my thinking. My understanding of water poisoning is that the excess water dilutes the salts and minerals in your blood which then causes big trouble with your central nervous system. Would it not then be beneficial in a competition such as this to overdo it on your sodium intake beforehand so that your body has more salt to dilute? I would think this and bladder stretching exercises would guarantee a victory. Bad idea?

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    Senior Member CrossChain's Avatar
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    Will....nice to see you over here. I didn't know about your training program in Florida. Getting serious about the XC this summer! Your new bike should make quite a difference....and all this training. Take Care!
    Riding and aging don't get easier, you just get slower at slowing down.] (FiftyPlus observation inspired by G. Lemond.)

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    <<sighs heavily>> NOT this topic AGAIN!!


    Why do you think I (and others) always suggest drinking one 750 ml bottle of water every 1 to 1.5 hours?? It is enough, without being too much.

    Why do you think I (and others) always suggest consuming salt and potassium on a regular basis?? Because if you do, you can drink lots more water and be OK. You don't need sports drinks (in fact sports drinks don't have enough salt and potassium), you need either foods that are high in sodium and potassium or electrolyte tablets.


    Here are some good articles to read on the subject:

    http://www.ultracycling.com/nutritio...natremia2.html
    http://www.ultracycling.com/nutrition/electrolytes.html
    http://www.ultracycling.com/nutritio..._too_much.html
    http://www.ultracycling.com/nutritio..._the_salt.html
    http://www.ultracycling.com/nutritio...natremia1.html

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    TMT
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    700 ml water and half a good multi min supplement; if in really nasty heat more water and minerals with a carb booster (IE: Gummie bears, Swedish fish, licorice disks.) if you figure out what you need on a ride you can simply make it at home and then avoid the tanking due to over consuming water. distance riders cant rely on the local gas station for food and drink on the road; it pays to look at nutrition options.


    TMT's sports drink.
    citric acid (sub un-sweet koolaid)
    sea salt (make sure it is the real deal unrefined sea salt has minerals in it * about the same mix as blood)
    water (no chlorine *let it sit out for 24 hrs or boil to remove chlorine)
    honey (Grade B maple syrup works)
    mix to taste (add a flavor if you want)

    And on my long rides i take 1 "rainbow light just once multivitamin" every 2 hours (this is about how fast i burn it off) I don't cramp, bonk, pass out or get overly fatigued.
    trike=three wheels. the ride of the unstable; it's not cycle cross! it's psyco cross.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TMT
    distance riders cant rely on the local gas station for food and drink on the road; it pays to look at nutrition options.
    Actually, that's exactly what I do rely on. You might be surprised what is in those gas stations!! Some of my favorites:

    -- unsweetened orange juice (good for both vit. C and potassium)
    -- bananas (good for potassium)
    -- beef jerky (good for protein and sodium)
    -- salted almonds (good for sodium and potassium and protein) ... in fact salted almonds are just about the most perfect long distance cycling food there is!
    -- dried almonds (good for potassium - better than bananas)
    -- Nestea Iced Tea (good for potassium)
    -- plain water (good for hydration)

    Lots of gas stations also carry things like energy bars, sports drinks, and all sorts of things to provide a cyclist the energy to keep going mile after mile after mile after mile after mile after mile .......

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    Faster but still slow slowandsteady's Avatar
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    Why do you think I (and others) always suggest drinking one 750 ml bottle of water every 1 to 1.5 hours?? It is enough, without being too much.
    Unfortunately Machka, that is not enough when riding in 100 degree heat.
    "Ride lots." -- Eddy Merckx

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    Quote Originally Posted by slowandsteady
    Unfortunately Machka, that is not enough when riding in 100 degree heat.
    I think that was a generalisation. One would adjust accordingly due to several factors.

    I know when I exercise in the extreme cold I get thirsty much faster than I do when I exercise in the heat. In part that may be due to the very dry air around here in the winter. As well, in the cold I don't like to stop moving until I can get to someplace warm, in the summer it is the shade.

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    [QUOTE=Machka]<<sighs heavily>> NOT this topic AGAIN!!


    Why do you think I (and others) always suggest drinking one 750 ml bottle of water every 1 to 1.5 hours?? It is enough, without being too much.

    Machka:
    This sounds a little simple to me. I am a big 195 lbs guy, in very good shape and did over 10,000 miles in 2006. I also hate the taste of salt and can barely stand Gatorade. On normal days, I can do 100 miles/day with just food and water at 17 MPH average. Never a problem. I do go through 3/Hr of those bottles of water and drink lots of ice tea when I can get it.
    My problem was when I trained in an enclosed room, on a trainer for six hours. That did me in and I did not anticipate it. Twelve of those bottles of just water was not a good idea. I thought that my food intake would provide the electrolytes. The energy bars have lots of it. Unfortunately it does not get absorbed fast enough.
    You know all this Machka, some of us learn slowly. (or never )

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    Quote Originally Posted by CrossChain
    Will....nice to see you over here. I didn't know about your training program in Florida. Getting serious about the XC this summer! Your new bike should make quite a difference....and all this training. Take Care!
    Hi CC
    Yep, over 2,000 miles. It was fun. The Bontrager saddle did not work out. Had to put on a padded Serfas, same as on the tour. The Treck Madone was/is fabulous. I am now back on the trainer. The trainer is much, much tougher at same speed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by slowandsteady
    Unfortunately Machka, that is not enough when riding in 100 degree heat.
    +1
    Not even close. We did 160 miles/day in desert conditions. We consumed any liquid we could get our hands on but also lots of salty snacks, pickles, Gatorade, some powder which we all hated and eventually avoided. The tour provided it. Nobody liked it. We survived. I also consumed lots of salty dried beef.

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    Quote Originally Posted by !!Comatoa$ted
    I think that was a generalisation. One would adjust accordingly due to several factors.

    I know when I exercise in the extreme cold I get thirsty much faster than I do when I exercise in the heat. In part that may be due to the very dry air around here in the winter. As well, in the cold I don't like to stop moving until I can get to someplace warm, in the summer it is the shade.
    I think that is what happened on the trainer. It was a cold room. I was very thirsty and drank a lot. Much more than in Florida. Florida had nearly 100% humidity and in fact it rained on many days. I consumed less water there than on a trainer.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slowandsteady
    Unfortunately Machka, that is not enough when riding in 100 degree heat.
    Believe it or not ... it can be. I've ridden in those conditions with the recommended amount of liquid and have been fine.


    I suppose if you're in the middle of a race or something you might be sweating more and might need a bit more ... but not if you're just riding.


    Have a look at those articles I posted ... they are published on the Ultracycling site, and are written by people who ride long distances.

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    [QUOTE=Machka]Believe it or not ... it can be. I've ridden in those conditions with the recommended amount of liquid and have been fine.


    I suppose if you're in the middle of a race or something you might be sweating more and might need a bit more ... but not if you're just riding.

    QUOTE]

    That is the catch Machka. We are not just riding. At 120 to 160 miles/day we go as fast as each individual can and many got sick. We were/are using the best road bikes money can buy and travel fully supported without any load on the bike. We were targeting 17 MPH/average but the fastest group did 20 MPH. Some did not make it and had to use the bus frequently. Injuries and exhaustion were an issue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jjvw
    With regard to this story, I had a thought about preparing for a water drinking contest. I'm sure I'm way off base in my thinking. My understanding of water poisoning is that the excess water dilutes the salts and minerals in your blood which then causes big trouble with your central nervous system. Would it not then be beneficial in a competition such as this to overdo it on your sodium intake beforehand so that your body has more salt to dilute? I would think this and bladder stretching exercises would guarantee a victory. Bad idea?
    I think it'd be better to consume only enough water and sodium to replace what you're sweating away while exercising. Machka's suggestions & links sums it up pretty well. About 750ml to 1000ml every hour or so with about 300-500mg of sodium/hr works out well. Along with 200-300 calories/hr of carbs and you can keep on going close to indefinitely. If you're not able to retain water and need more than 1-litre/hr, then you might actually have a low-electrolyte issue, not a water-intake problem.

    Strangely enough, sweating amounts don't change that much between 100-degree summer vs. winter-months. It's the core body-temps that determine sweating rates and that doesn't change much with outside temperature, but is more linked to exertion levels. Cold air actually hinders evaporation and that sweat just drips down your back instead of vaporizing, limiting how much heat can be carried away for any given amount of sweat. In the summer-months, that same amount of sweat would be more effective as it would actually evaporate and that carries away a tonne more heat. I've done centuries at 20mph+ averages and my water/electrolyte consumption doesn't really change between winter vs. summer months. Maybe we should change the intake recommendations to per-mile rather than per-hour.
    Last edited by DannoXYZ; 01-21-07 at 10:23 PM.

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    TMT
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    Actually, that's exactly what I do rely on. You might be surprised what is in those gas stations!! Some of my favorites:

    -- unsweetened orange juice (good for both vit. C and potassium)
    -- bananas (good for potassium)
    -- beef jerky (good for protein and sodium)
    -- salted almonds (good for sodium and potassium and protein) ... in fact salted almonds are just about the most perfect long distance cycling food there is!
    -- dried almonds (good for potassium - better than bananas)
    -- Nestea Iced Tea (good for potassium)
    -- plain water (good for hydration)

    Lots of gas stations also carry things like energy bars, sports drinks, and all sorts of things to provide a cyclist the energy to keep going mile after mile after mile after mile after mile after mile .......
    phew no thanks I'll stick to my assertion that you cannot depend on gas station food.
    I've been to many miles in places that the only food is moon pies and soda pop.
    so for my ride pack i carry dried fish,
    I avoid salted nuts but usually carry my version of gorp : roasted hazel nuts, punkin seeds, sunflower seeds, rice crackers, raisins, date pieces, banana chips and Choc chips. (the rice crackers are salted with tamari)
    And i avoid the energy bars on long rides like poison; the sugar content is too high and the crash time is too fast. i would rather an apple or an ensure meal in a can. (this is all subjective to the rider)
    trike=three wheels. the ride of the unstable; it's not cycle cross! it's psyco cross.

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    Bike Curious.... bobby c's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by will dehne
    (BTW: Healthy kidneys can process 1.0 liter/hour)
    I consume 1 - 1.5 liters of water easily per hour on a regular basis. If more is consumed than the kidney can process in a given time, does it just slosh around the stomach in the meantime? I'm not talking about massive amounts that have lead to deaths, but am curious about dumping a liter or so of water into the system over a short period & what negative (if any) effects that might have.

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    Machka, you are not everybody!!!!

    In addition to eating regular food -(most gas stations have tubes of nuts with a lot of salt)-

    I carry sea salt chunks, and suck on some like chew sometimes on long rides to get extra sodium when its scorching out, I'm riding thru the desert and I'm drinking a gallon or two a day.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobby c
    I consume 1 - 1.5 liters of water easily per hour on a regular basis. If more is consumed than the kidney can process in a given time, does it just slosh around the stomach in the meantime? I'm not talking about massive amounts that have lead to deaths, but am curious about dumping a liter or so of water into the system over a short period & what negative (if any) effects that might have.
    Wikipedia has this to say:
    A person with two healthy kidneys can excrete about 900ml (0.24 gal)/hr.[2] Consuming as little as 1.8 litres of water (0.48 gal) in a single sitting may prove fatal for a person adhering to a low-sodium diet, or 3 litres (0.79 gallons) for a person on a normal diet. However, this must be modulated by potential water losses via other routes. For example, a person who is perspiring heavily may lose 1 L/hr (0.26 gal) of water through perspiration alone, thereby raising the threshold for water intoxication. The problem is further complicated by the amount of electrolytes lost in urine or sweat, which is variable within a range controlled by the body's regulatory mechanisms.
    Water intoxication can be prevented by consuming water that is isotonic with water losses, but the exact concentration of electrolytes required is difficult to determine and fluctuates over time, and the greater the time period involved, the smaller the disparity that may suffice to produce electrolyte imbalance and water intoxication.
    Sodium is not the only mineral that can become overdiluted from excessive water intake. Magnesium is also excreted in urine. According to the National Institutes of Health, "magnesium deficiency can cause metabolic changes that may contribute to heart attacks and strokes."[3] Intravenous magnesium is used in cardiac care units for cardiac arrhythmias.[4]

    BTW: I got a headache reading this. I guess I am to old for all this clever stuff.

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    Faster but still slow slowandsteady's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    Believe it or not ... it can be. I've ridden in those conditions with the recommended amount of liquid and have been fine.


    I suppose if you're in the middle of a race or something you might be sweating more and might need a bit more ... but not if you're just riding.


    Have a look at those articles I posted ... they are published on the Ultracycling site, and are written by people who ride long distances.

    Well, believe it or not, I too ride in those conditions and one bottle an hour would have me laying on the side of the road in a coma. In fact on one 18 mile ride, I consumed all of my water(3 bottles) in 45 minutes. I had to find a school with a garden hose to hose me off and fill up the bottles. I was delerious from the heat. It was 100 degrees, humid, and sunny. There was NO shade on my ride. It was probably 120 in the sun. I could feel the intense heat billowing off of the pavement as I rode. I did not get hyponatremia as I consume plenty of salt. Once I had enough water and got hosed off, I felt fine.

    The sun is also more intense as you go towards the equator. A hot day in Canada is not the same as a hot day in Mexico. Temperatures listed by weather.com and the news are based on shade not sunny areas.

    I could drink one bottle an hour driving my riding mower in that kind of heat, let alone riding a bike.

    Your level of exertion is also going to change how much you need to drink. I imagine ultracyclists aren't going very fast or hard. I went on a very easy 2 hour ride yesterday(25*F) and drank about 1/4 of a water bottle and felt fine. Exertion is everything.
    "Ride lots." -- Eddy Merckx

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    TMT
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    (Ecca using TMT's login):
    One common thread I'm noticing is that different riders, under different conditions, need different amounts of water. And different nutrients - salts, snacks, etc. There are outside limits beyond which no sane person would go, surely. But you can make yourself pretty sick while staying within these limits too.

    Would it be useful to talk about how to safely train _yourself_ to meet _your own_ body's needs?
    For example, when not accustomed to long workouts in heat or cold, starting with shorter ones?
    If you can't do that -- for example, you've been training for a race, and then the weather changes on you, what kind of "just in case" supplements might be worth bringing along? How do experienced riders recognize the signs of impending problems?

    If you're dizzy, then try ....
    If you're feeling really hot ....
    If you are sweating more than usual ....
    If your muscles are feeling overly sore/tired, too soon ....
    If you are getting little cramps ... (are there any warning signs _before_ major cramps?)
    If the weather is dry, or extra cold (therefore effectively drier) ...
    If you are a big, sweaty male ...
    If you are a small woman who doesn't usually sweat much ....
    If you're embarking on a challenge that's more than half again what you're used to...

    Experienced athletes (and coaches) quickly learn what kinds of nutrients, and water loads, they need to perform well under normal conditions. But a new sport, or a new environment, can still hammer us.

    What are the warning signs you watch for, that tell you you're about to have a problem with your water intake or anything else?

    -Ecca
    trike=three wheels. the ride of the unstable; it's not cycle cross! it's psyco cross.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slowandsteady
    The sun is also more intense as you go towards the equator. A hot day in Canada is not the same as a hot day in Mexico. Temperatures listed by weather.com and the news are based on shade not sunny areas.

    Your level of exertion is also going to change how much you need to drink. I imagine ultracyclists aren't going very fast or hard. I went on a very easy 2 hour ride yesterday(25*F) and drank about 1/4 of a water bottle and felt fine. Exertion is everything.

    Ah, but I'm not talking about a hot day in Canada. I wonder why everyone assumes I've only cycled in Canada. Very puzzling. I'm talking about the month of hot days I cycled in Queensland, Australia, and the hot days I've cycled in California.

    But you are right that I don't travel very quickly on very hot days. I don't see the point!

    And I'll also add something that has surprised me again and again ... I will faithfully drink the recommended amount (which BTW is somewhat flexible ... it's not set in stone and I've never said it was) on hot days ... while all the other cyclists around me are drinking about half that much. If I were laying bets, I'd bet that they'd be in the ditch after several hours, but they weren't ... they were fine.

    Sometimes I wonder if we are conditioned to think we need to drink as much as we do.

    My father will tell stories of rides he did where he might have bought a coke at the halfway point, but he didn't carry waterbottles on his bicycle. Even when I started riding, I didn't drink nearly as much as I do now, and I only recall two occasions where I probably should have drunk more. Growing up, my family would go hiking around the Grand Canyon and Zion Canyon etc. areas with a couple small canteens of water between us. Back when I was in high school, and while I was getting my first degree, students didn't come to class with bottles of water like they do now.

    It seems that no one can go anywhere without a bottle of water glued to their hands. Growing up, we were given about 4 glasses of either juice or milk a day ... and that wasn't at all unusual ... that's about as much as what most kids drank. Then, at some point in the 1990s this water craze started. Suddenly, everyone needed to consume bottles and bottles of the stuff!!

    In some ways I think it is a good idea. The body needs water, and probably that 8 glasses of water a day thing is fairly accurate. But I often wonder if we really do need as much as we drink ... and whether or not it is really all that healthy for us.

    I never heard of hyponatremia until just a few years ago. Maybe people have been dying from consuming too much water (and not enough salt) but if they have it sure hasn't been as publicized as it is now. It makes me wonder if the push to drink, drink, drink all the time is really a good thing ... or not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jjvw
    My understanding of water poisoning is that the excess water dilutes the salts and minerals in your blood which then causes big trouble with your central nervous system.
    Agreed. I was arguing with some friends about this recently. It's not some inherent property of the water that your body reacts badly to, rather the fact it flushes away essential salts, nutrients and minerals. So long as you replace all these you should be able to drink a hell of a lot of water without it being dangerous. Ofc this wouldn't be easy to do and beyond a point you'd be washing away anything you took in before your body had a chance to absorb it, but the basic point remains.

    Edit: That said, I'm not suggesting there is any advantage to drinking loads of water. I agree with machka that many people are conditioned to drink more than they actually need.

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    Faster but still slow slowandsteady's Avatar
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    Sometimes I wonder if we are conditioned to think we need to drink as much as we do.
    I hear what you are saying Machka, and have tremendous respect for your experiences, but just because you are fine with 1 bottle an hour in intense heat, doesn't mean it is okay for everyone. There is a huge variation in the amount of water a person needs that is based on individual body composition, body weight, intensity level, temperature, humidity, wind speed, and the amount a sweat lost. All of these things will vary and vary greatly from person to person. For example, I bet I weigh close to double of what you weigh. You can't really expect our consumption of water to be the same.

    You cannot say that 1 bottle an hour is enough for everyone. It is enough for you, in the conditions that you ride and at your body weight and gender.

    I wouldn't tell someone that 3 bottles an hour is okay, just because it works for me. My own water consumption varies from anywhere from 0 ounces an hour to close to three liters an hour.
    "Ride lots." -- Eddy Merckx

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