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Electrolytes Question

Old 05-15-14, 04:44 PM
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TromboneAl
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Electrolytes Question

I'm always trying to figure out why I feel better on some rides and worse on others. Sometimes the last 10 miles of a 60 mile ride are torture.

So today I experimented with electrolytes. Usually I just put one shake of lite salt in my water bottle when I start. I typically eat two Quest bars on a 60 mile ride.

Today I put tons of lite salt (NaCl and KCl) plus baking soda on a container of nuts (macadamias, almonds, and pecans). I also put a lot of lite salt on an egg that I ate just before the ride.

Note that I generally keep my sodium consumption low, primarily by using only KCl on my foods. Also, the weather here is usually cool (around 60 degrees) and I don't ride hard or sweat a lot. I am 60 years old.

I did my standard 60 mile ride, and felt significantly better than usual. Still felt fresh at the end.

So, what do you think about my feeling better than usual:

1. Random variation.
2. Placebo effect
3. Result of increase electrolytes

Thanks.
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Old 05-15-14, 05:27 PM
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It could be the electrolytes.

I notice a difference in my rides when I use electrolyte tablets. I used to suffer from all sorts of stomach upset on longer rides ... started taking electrolyte tablets, and they settle my stomach down and allow me to digest my food better which in turn gives me more energy.

I can also drink more water when I take electrolyte tablets which is good for hydration ... and being well hydrated can increase the energy levels too.
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Old 05-15-14, 05:55 PM
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I'd say it's gotta be the electrolytes. Kind of why I like Modern BCAA by USP Labs. I sip it during workouts, and long training sessions. You get the best of both worlds in terms of your BCAA's and Some Electrolytes. Definitely something to consider as you can never go wrong with Branched Chain Aminos.
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Old 05-15-14, 09:23 PM
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You know there is a generally accepted daily minimum for sodium. IIRC it's 3/4 t. table salt/day. Because we cook everything from scratch and eat mostly plant-based, it's a bit of a bother to get that much every day. We have to work at it a little. You might think about that, too. I use Endurolytes. They are low sodium for an electrolyte pill, but they work. Random variation is usually the best explanation, but one never really knows. More experimentation.
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Old 05-16-14, 08:43 AM
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Thanks guys. I hope you're right because that sure was a good ride yesterday, and I didn't feel pathologically tired afterwards, which sometimes happens.

I was skeptical since I didn't sweat much, but perhaps with my lower sodium diet, I was on the edge. I'll continue to experiment.
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Old 05-16-14, 08:46 AM
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Regarding sweat, sometimes it can be hard to tell how much you're sweating because good clothing choices and wind can wick it away. It's possible you could be sweating a bit more than you think you are.
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Old 05-16-14, 10:49 AM
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When you sweat you lose mainly Na and only a little K. So, it's mainly Na that you need to add to maintain proper electrolyte balance.
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Old 05-16-14, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Regarding sweat, sometimes it can be hard to tell how much you're sweating because good clothing choices and wind can wick it away. It's possible you could be sweating a bit more than you think you are.
Darker clothing can help. When you see salt deposits building up on your jersey or shorts, it's probably time for more salt and water.

Although I've occasionally managed a visible salt deposit on a yellow jersey. Hot day!
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Old 05-16-14, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Darker clothing can help. When you see salt deposits building up on your jersey or shorts, it's probably time for more salt and water.

Although I've occasionally managed a visible salt deposit on a yellow jersey. Hot day!
Yeah, I've had my black shorts almost turn white during a long hot ride. I don't feel like I'm sweating ... but there it is.


And after a particular winter century, I knew I had the clothing right when all my inner layers were dry (I was wearing a polypro, merino wool, fleece, and then a jacket) and the outer jacket had a visible salt deposit all over it.
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Old 05-19-14, 08:28 AM
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Another data point:

Yesterday I went on the 60 mile ride again. I felt tired before the start, and didn't really want to ride, but in the interest of science, I went.

I was more tired at the end than I was last week, but not that crazy tired feeling.

Of course it could be a placebo effect. Fifteen minutes into the ride I felt good and thought, "Well, this electrolyte stuff really works." Then I remembered that I hadn't had any nuts yet. It would be good to do some real double-blind testing, but that's too much work.

But this second ride supports the idea that my electrolytes have been too low in the past, and that I can look forward to stronger rides in the future.
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