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how much liquid and avoiding cramp

tuxpootuxpoo Posts: 138
edited August 2007 in Health, fitness & training
I seem ok on rides up to about 2-3 hours in warm weather. After this I start to get cramp and dull headaches. I would say it was dehydration, but i take 2-3l along with me and drink a pint (water) before leaving. I have tried high-5 powder, but I still get cramp and headaches.

Im now adding a few bannanas to my diet, but yesterday again started to get the same after aprox 3 hours.

I carry around a bit of extra fat , and do sweat alot. I supect I am sweating out the electrolites i need. Because im a bit lardy Im also thinking i may need a bit more liquid than i carry.

Is there any calculation on how much liquid I should be taking during and before a ride?
Also any recommendation on diet or suppliment to keep my electrolites up?
I use high-5 but that only stops me bonking. It makes no difference to cramps or headaches.

In cool weather this never happens.




  • I was wondering before answering your questions. Is this your first time as a cyclists? Because when you are not used to long bike rides, at the beginning you will get cramped up easily. So maybe if this is like your first year of trying cycling, try slowing down your riding intake by like 1h30 a day and add more every week.

    What kind of diet do you have? Do you have breakfeast, lunch and dinner? Do you eat your fruits and veggies each day? :P It can be all of those things listed above than can get you cramped up.

    Now, your electrolytes gets sweated out. There is a calculation on how much you should drink during and before. I don't know the exact numbers, but 1L before a ride and 0.5L an hour of water during is a good average(anyone has any comments??). Try using another kind of sports drink. Banana's are a great idea they cary alot of potassium. For my endurance races, I go and buy some salt sticks (, but I'm sure you can get them in another store in the UK. Oh, and try to eat a little something before a ride (cereal bar) just to fill you up and not leave you empty. Bringing some for a 3 hour epic ride will help you a lot. Sometime's liquid is not the problem but food! :wink:
    "someone is training when you are not. when you race him, he will win."
  • tuxpootuxpoo Posts: 138
    I have been cycling just over a year now regularly.
    started with just 1/2 hour rides last summer, move up to couple of mid week 1 hour rides and a 30M ride at weekend in the autumn and continued over winter (night riding). I have now worked up to commuting 25M a day with no problems (50 mins each way).

    Its longer rides in one go I have problems with.

    I sure its hydration as on cooler days Im fine. I have no next day stiffness like I used to.

    I have a pretty ballanced diet. I have been adding bananas (told they are good for cramp).

    Ill have a read on the salt sticks. Just a bit wary about too much salt intake.

  • Yeah, looks like hydration. You should read about salt sticks, but don't worry. They wont give you a 2000mg intake of salt lol. Yeah, the bananas like I said carry loads of potassium, with works with muscle and the nervous system. Stretching during a ride will be good to. Stretch your calves midway through a ride, it feels so much better!!
    Let me know how it goes..
    "someone is training when you are not. when you race him, he will win."
  • Pippen33Pippen33 Posts: 235
    I know how you feel with the dull headache, I made the same mistake as you, by taking too much water. you're loosing salt in your sweat and you're diluting the rest by taking in just water.

    I dont do this myself, but you can add 1 third tsp of salt to 1 litre of water / diluted orange juice.
  • I've just got an email from About Electrolytes, thought you might be interested! It's not much, but gives you a little bit of information about electrolytes that you are intaking and can give you cramps.,6610 ... -1,00.html
    "someone is training when you are not. when you race him, he will win."
  • teachermanteacherman Posts: 454
    I did what Pippen 33 says on a 3 hour ride the other day and altho it tasted a bit rank it seemed to work. I AM V. UNFIT but i didn't cramp on the ride or the next day. Put a tsp of sugar in as well.
    I hate it when people say David Beckham's stupid...its not like anyone ever says: 'Stephen Hawking - he's s**t at football.' Paul Calf
  • graeme_s-2graeme_s-2 Posts: 3,382
    What about an electrolyte replacement drink like SIS Go?

    I've also heard that drinking a glass of tonic water (no gin ;) ) before a ride can be good, as the quinine in it can prevent cramp.
  • tuxpootuxpoo Posts: 138
    I dont want a carbohydrate drink as Im trying to keep calories down.

    Anyone used this ... ... elID=19146

    Looks like what i need.

  • Cramp: it's important to note that the mechanisms that play a role in cramp haven't been fully elucidated yet. However, sports scientists and exercise physiologists are fairly certain that it isn't related to dehydration, as 1) dehydration occurs throughout the whole body and not the limited muscles or group of muscles that cramp, and 2) cramp can occur in people who aren't dehydrated (e.g., it's noted that lots of classical musicians suffer from cramp while playing their instruments)

    It's therefore, thought that the cramp is fatigue related and you're asking the muscles to do too much work or work too hard for the level of training they've received.

    Of course, this doesn't mean that you should avoid a good fluid plan. In moderate and above temperatures it is important to keep well hydrated, as dehydration leads to a decline in power production. You fluid, or food, should contain carbohydrates and electrolytes, in generally (but not always) a 6 - 8% solution. Drinking plain water (with nothing else) can, paradoxically, lead to more dehydration, or a severe illness (if lots of water is drunk) called hyponatraemia (where usually, a few people die each year from over consumption of water in events such as marathons).

    The original poster was curious about headaches, and this may also be related to a lack of dietary carbohydrates and very low blood sugar levels on longer rides. Irrespective of your weight loss goal, it's a good idea on longer rides (e.g. > 90-mins) to consume carbohydrates to keep your riding intensity at the correct level and to stop you from 'bonking'.

    In order to calculate fluid requirements during a ride, you need to do a few calculations

    Just before training record your nude body mass in kg

    During training sum up the volume of fluid you've consumed and your ride time.

    Immediately post ride (before eating or drinking anything else). Record your post exercise nude mass after towelling dry.

    For e.g. pre ride mass = 70 kg
    fluid consumed during exercise = 1.2 L
    post exercise nude mass = 68 kg
    ride time = 2.5 hrs

    70 - 68 = 2 kg + 1.2 L = 3.2 L of fluid loss during ride

    3.2 L / 2.5 hrs = 1.28 L/hr

    Thus in the illustrative example above, we can see that our imaginary rider required fluid at a rate of 1.28 Litres per hour, while s/he consumed only 0.48 L per hour, which created a deficit over the ride of 2 kg, equal to just under 3%.

    However, for most people, it's pretty much impossible to match our exact fluid requirements with our fluid losses. We can't carry enough fluid with us, and it maybe impracticle to stop every 40-mins at a shop to buy a drink. I guess most of us don't have team cars following us around either!

    Available research suggests that we should aim to consume ~ 60 g per hour of carbohydrates in a carb-electrolyte solution of ~6 - 8 %, unless the ambient temperature is very hot (this will differe on a person to basis, so what maybe hot for me, could be cold for someone else). In hotter climes, it may be better to go with a 4 to 6% solution

    Professional cycle coaching for cyclists of all levels
  • tuxpootuxpoo Posts: 138
    Exellent, Thats exactly what I want to know.

    I do take on carbohydrates (high-5) on longer rides, But now suspect in not taking anywhere near enough liquid in warm weather.

    I will do a ride tommorow and do the calculation and take it a little easy.

    Thanks all

  • overmarsovermars Posts: 430
    I used to get cramp after about 40 miles. SIS/water didn't work.

    Someone suggest Nuun. I tried it. I still got cramp, but this time I could ride it out.
    Someone then suggest salt sticks. Tried it. Got no cramp.

    I was basically sweating out more than I could replace.

    To think that for many years I thought that riding in pain was natural!
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