Oh boy, can I sweat in the summer! Not the delicate dew and occasional lady-like bead of sweat…. Nope. I’m a dripping soaked mess. My jersey weighs at least 8 lbs when I take it off. I can wring sweat out of my gloves after about 25 miles in 87+ degree heat. I’m constantly redirecting sweat out of my eyes and there’s a steady drip off of my chin. At least my feet don’t sweat, but it’s a good thing that I wear tall socks to prevent my feet from being soaked from the small stream that develops on my shins….
In short: it’s gross.
Regardless of your feelings about excessive sweatiness – there’s a plus side to it (especially if you live where it’s hot)! In my home state of Texas, in particular: it gets CRAZY hot. Silly hot. So hot you can fry eggs on the hood of your car. It’ll have you hunting for shelter at about 11:00 am and the sun feels like it’s drilling holes in your skin through your jersey. It’s the only time of year that I am praying for a breeze and the heat from the pavement almost melts the soles of your shoes. BUT, because I’m a Sweaty Betty – I stay relatively cool as long as I’m sweating.
That gross sweat is the key to survival in summer heat.
There are, however, a few precautions that need to be taken for anyone that exercises in the heat, in addition to continual hydration, regardless of how much you perspire. For one, you aren’t just sweating out water, ‘toxins’, and salt. Unfortunately, quite a few necessary minerals are also lost during perspiration. For this article: we will just focus on the major components of sweat for the average person which include: calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Every person that cycles (even in winter) should include some form of electrolyte in their drink or as a ride supplement. However, it’s a good idea take additional precautions to prevent mineral loss that will lead to other health issues down the road.
If you are thinking that you get enough minerals and
vitamins through your food because you
eat your veggies – think again. Commercial farming practices are depleting nutrients in the soil – and if it’s not in the soil: it’s not in the plant.
Major Player: Calcium
Calcium, as most know, is a major contributor to bone health. Lose too much, and your bone density will suffer over time. What you might not immediately realize is that calcium also assists in areas such as sleep, prevents nervous disorders, cardiovascular disease, assist in muscle contraction, is essential for blood clotting, and lowers blood pressure. Too little calcium in your system can lead to issues in these areas including aching joints, muscle cramps, insomnia, and heart palpations. Female athletes, in particular, need more calcium than males. Personally: I take 1200mg of calcium a day, but you should consult a licensed nutritionists that can do a blood scan for your personal needs.
If you do include calcium supplements as a part of your athlete diet, make sure you take vitamin D3, magnesium, and boron. For those over 35, you might want to include vitamin K2 to ensure the calcium is utilized in the body properly.
Food for Thought:
- As you may know, due to the relatively low impact cycling has on the skeletal structure bone density loss can be a concern.
- CLICK HERE to find some impact exercises that are recommended to prevent bone density loss for cyclists.
The Main Sidekick: Magnesium
Magnesium is an underappreciated vital catalyst mineral to ensure the human system functions properly. It goes along with calcium like peas and carrots. A deficiency in magnesium can lead to dizziness, PH imbalance, muscle weakness, fatigue, IBS, depression, asthma, and difficulty maintaining normal body temperature. Also important for athletes: it protects the arterial lining in instances of sudden blood pressure changes. Some current studies indicate that magnesium should be taken in equal amounts to that of calcium supplements.
There have been linkages found between magnesium deficiency and adult onset diabetes. One 2013 study involving pre-diabetics found that most had inadequate magnesium intake. Those with the highest magnesium intake reduced their risk for blood sugar and metabolic problems by a whopping 71 percent!
Close to the Heart: Potassium
Most folks know that low potassium levels are critical to cardiovascular and muscle health. Too little = heart attack. That’s usually enough for most folks but it also works in tandem with sodium to control the body’s water balance. Interestingly potassium regulates the transfer of nutrients to the cell membrane as well. If you are low in potassium you might the following symptoms such as abnormally dry skin, diminished reflex function, excessive thirst, nausea, periodic headaches, and respiratory distress (to name a few).
Although these minerals are only a few of what is found in sweat – it’s important to understand that your body needs to be replenished after exercise in areas that don’t just include food and beer – although these are serious additions to the cycling diet!
I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about sodium. Most people know that sodium (salt) is a huge player in the human sweat game. I know I’m in trouble if I cannot taste salt in my sweat – even though this is a very late indicator. Sodium maintains proper water balance, blood PH, stomach, nerve, and muscle function. Sodium deficiencies are on the rise due to years of anti-salt marketing. Salt, in excess, isn’t good but proper levels of sodium are necessary! If you are excessively low in sodium, you can exhibit symptoms similar to chronic fatigue syndrome (or chronic ‘bonking’), confusion, irritability, headaches, and muscle spasms.
Anyone that engages in intense or prolonged (studies say over 30-40 min) exercise should add electrolytes to their routine whether that is added to water or taken as a supplement. Because many commercial mixes disagree with my delicate system, I need to be careful how much sugar and preservatives I take in to avoid tummy distress. A few ‘Canary’ (that’s me) approved electrolyte blends are: Skratch Labs, Osmo (designed especially for women), or Hammer Endurolytes. Personally, I also add salt to my water during rides because I do sweat so much. However, electrolytes are probably not enough if you engage in frequent hard exercise. The fact is: what goes out must be put back in. If you are relying on your food to give you the nutrients you need – you are probably way behind the nutrient game already.
Oh, wait! There’s MORE! After years of research and study in nutrition due to my health
challenges and in my focus to achieve top performance naturally – I have found there’s always so much more to learn. If you want to know even more about additional vitamins and minerals key for athletic performance: CLICK HERE.
If taking supplements sounds like a bore try liquid multi-vitamins. Solid multi-vitamins tend to get lost in the digestive system. Vitamins in liquid colloidal form tend to transmit to the blood stream more quickly and can by-pass the loss that occurs in your digestive process. Being healthy costs $$! I don’t know about you: but I don’t want to waste money. After all, we need to save up our pennies for the next N+1!