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Old 05-31-14, 07:43 AM
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Hypertension and Ride Fuel

Hey all.

I've been riding a fair bit (100-200k per week) in preparation for a 6 day, 600k bike trip in about 5 weeks. I've also been eating horribly for a couple of years, and have hypertension as the apparent result. Yesterday I measured 165/105 in the doctor's office on a machine that takes 6 measurements over 5 minutes and averages them out.

I was actually there for a full physical, and absolutely everything else checks out fine (all bloodwork looked good, RHR is OK, ECG test results are pending), so given that and my awful diet (think food court Chinese food 5x/wk, and eating out or ordering in 3-4 nights/week), the doc recommended that we start with getting my diet improved before considering meds. I have a follow up in a month to see where we're at.

I'm following the guidelines of the DASH diet, which is basically the same as what I'd do to cut weight, so I'm also aiming to shed some pounds (I'm overweight but the doc didn't consider that on its own cause for alarm given my activity level and the other results). I would like to be a lean 165 pound cycling machine, but the immediate goal is to be a slow chubby clyde with healthy BP.

For other reasons, I cut out booze almost 2 months ago, and for years I've limited my caffeine to 1 cup of tea every morning. That 1 is going down to 0 for the next month or so.

My off-bike diet is low sodium (cutting out all prepared foods for a month), fruits & veggies, and whole grain foods (I don't eat much meat).

What I'm wondering about is what's appropriate for ON the bike? I do want to keep my sodium intake as low as possible, but if I'm out for a 3 hour ride, I know I'm sweating out a ton of salt - we all know the experience of tasting salt during the post-ride shower. I've never used Gatorade for rides under 2 hours, but I do usually switch from water to Gatorade after that point. I also usually bring some granola bars. But in my quest to get those BP numbers under control, I'm wary about anything with added salt, and about prepared/packaged foods in general.

My question is, how much (if any) salt is appropriate on a long (3-6 hour) training ride of moderate intensity for someone on a low sodium diet to deal with hypertension?
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