When people talk about hydration, most of the time it's about what and how much athletes should drink during exercise.
These are clearly important questions, but your performance is also massively influenced by how hydrated you are when you start exercising in the first place. Drinking a strong electrolyte drink to optimise your hydration status before long, hot or really hard training sessions and events can significantly improve your performance.
We call this "preloading" and the practice has been widely studied in the last 20 years or so, both with astronauts and athletes. Whilst there's not a completely bullet proof consensus on the subject - there rarely is - there's strong evidence that taking in additional sodium with fluids before you start sweating is effective in promoting increased acute fluid retention and in improving endurance performance, especially in the heat.
Preloading with PH 1500:
- Drink 1 x PH 1500 with ~500ml (16oz) of water the evening before your activity.
- Drink 1 x PH 1500 with ~500ml (16oz) of water about 90 minutes before you start. Finish your drink at least 45 minutes before you start to give your body time to fully absorb what it needs and pee out any excess.
- Drink the PH 1500 in water you’d have drank anyway to ensure you don’t overdo it. The circa symbol (~) before the fluid total is key here as different athletes will drink differing amounts - for example, more petite athletes might typically drink less than larger athletes. One size won't fit all, so use some trial and error with these guidelines to help work towards what is best for you when preloading.
- DON’T just drink lots of water in the build-up to a race. You can end up diluting your body’s sodium levels before you start, increasing the risk of hyponatremia.
Why you should preload
- Boosting your blood plasma volume before intense exercise is a proven way to enhance your performance, especially in hot conditions.
- Having more blood makes it easier for your cardiovascular system to meet the competing demands of cooling you down and delivering oxygen to your muscles.
- PH 1500 is very effective at increasing your plasma volume as it contains 3x more sodium than a typical sports drink. That extra sodium helps to pull water into your bloodstream and keep it there. This may allow you to get away with drinking considerably less in shorter/harder events where previously they would have had to try to consume more on the move (not easy when you’re flat out!). It can also help reduce the amount of times you need to pee before you start.
- Preloading with PH 1500 can also help you avoid/alleviate muscle cramps, especially if you’re prone to suffering from them late on in events and especially when it’s hot. 89% of athletes with cramp who try preloading PH 1500 say that it solves their problems.
- You can’t preload anywhere near as effectively with weaker sports drinks as you’ll lose a large proportion of the fluid as urine. Or it’ll slosh around in your stomach without being properly absorbed.
If you’re looking for a way to optimise your performance then testing sodium preloading is definitely worth a try.
If you want to learn more about this subject, head on over to Precision Fuel and Hydration to see the full detailed blog.