Our Nuunbassadors vary across all sports, speeds, distances, and thus, hydration needs. And sometimes, even if they hydrate with Nuun their fueling plan can go awry!
As part of a new series we’ll be reviewing some of our Nuunbassadors’ fueling scenarios that may have had suboptimal results. We hope to help them perform better in the future, and we hope these real life situations can help all athletes to plan their fueling for peak performance and health.
By Vishal Patel
CASE STUDY: Male, Early 30’s. Triathlete. Nuun Ambassador.
Background: Veteran Triathlete
Our subject is a veteran triathlete, who is currently training for an early season Ironman. He is a Nuun ambassador, who raced a 70.3 (Half Ironman) last weekend in a mild-warm climate. However after his race he reached out to us for assistance with some issues in regards to his hydration and/or nutrition on race day.
Problem: Cramping On The Run
Our subject excelled on the first two legs that day, both his swim and bike splits were a personal best. He complained about severe cramping going into the second transition, on his way to the run course. These symptoms were not present during the swim and bike, but immediately affected his running performance (noticed the cramping before mile 1), and lasted throughout the run.
In triathlon it’s important to practice proper hydration and fueling on the bike to set yourself up for a successful run.
Hydration/Nutrition Strategy: Nuun, EFS, & Water
After getting all of the background information, the next step was to find out what our subject’s hydration status looked like the days prior the race, and during the first two legs of the triathlon. He informed us that he hydrated normally the days leading up to the race, and did not notice any dehydration-like symptoms. Below you will find his nutrition plan while on the bike.
Bike Split: 2:29:00
- 20 oz – Concentrated Nuun (3 tablets)
- 36 oz – Plain water
- 5 oz – EFS Liquids Shot (flask)
Nutrient Intake (on bike):
- Sodium – 1,480 mg (Nuun + EFS)
- Potassium – 590 mg (Nuun + EFS)
- Chloride – 600 mg (EFS)
- Magnesium – 195 mg (Nuun + EFS)
- Calcium – 187.5 mg (Nuun + EFS)
- Carbohydrates – 106 mg (Nuun + EFS)
Total Fluid Intake – ~61 oz (Nuun + H20 + EFS)
Conclusions: Too Much Fluid For Absorption Rate, Flushed Out Electrolytes
Several factors go into preventing symptoms (cramping) of dehydration. The weather is a key factor; it’s was a hot and humid climate on race day. However, this shouldn’t be an issue for our subject as he lives and trains in the area, giving him plenty of time to acclimate. Fitness level and course conditions are factors as well; our subject said the bike/run course wasn’t all that difficult, and his fitness level is not an issue due to his commitment and dedication to training. So then we looked at his nutrient and fluid intake during the bike, and realized that this may have been the factor that led to a less than ideal run performance.
Fluid rate and absorption of nutrients is very important when participating in endurance events. We have concluded that our subject may have exceeded the amount of fluids his body is capable of absorbing in any given time.
While you are exercising, taking in fluid is important, but the rate at which you are hydrating is even more crucial in determining sport performance. Your intestines are responsible for absorption of fluids and nutrients. At any given time, the maximum rate of intestinal absorption of water is about 20.3 fluid ounces per hour.
Therefore, with the information presented above, and knowing that our subject took in about 61 fluid ounces, in a two and a half hour time frame (~ 25 FL OZ per hour), we believe that he flushed his electrolytes stores out of his bloodstream, leading to a decrease in muscular function, and decrease in electrolyte response to stimuli. The 36 fl oz of plain water may have served a greater function in not allowing the electrolytes to freely flow, and get to working muscles.
Without proper bike fueling your run performance will be compromised.
Solution: Less Overall Fluid, Higher Nuun (Electrolyte) Ratio In Overall Fluid Intake
So how can we fix this? Luckily for our subject’s sake this is an easy solution. He had been hydrating on a timed interval basis, meaning he would “sip” on his concentrated Nuun bottle throughout the bike, and drink plain water every five minutes. Those guidelines need to be slightly adjusted for him to reach his optimal performance via hydration and nutritionRather than drinking Nuun or plain water every five minutes, we recommend our subject drink towards his thirst. Thirst is the #1 mechanism that our body uses to tell us that it needs fluids. We also recommend he continue to use EFS for his caloric intake, sip on his concentrated batch of Nuun; however, the one thing he needs to think about changing is the amount of plain water he intakes. For his next race, we advised him to alternate between Nuun and plain water; however, this time using only signals his body is sending him to determine the rate of ingestion. We also recommend he should try not to exceed 20 oz of fluid per hour.