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The cause of the "Salt".. Is it hydration?(7 posts)

The cause of the "Salt".. Is it hydration?Ynot19
Nov 16, 2001 7:46 PM
On many of my hard rides I have salt on my face and many, many times, even my shorts and shirt will be white from it. Thought it was hydration, but I try to focus on drinking, (more than a large bottle per hr.)

Is this simply a hydration issue and I need to be drinking more? Are there more factors involve? conditioning, size (220lbs) etc.. Should I be drinking specific drinks? some say water some say sports drinks.

Would truly apprecitate any assistance.
If your sweat were not salty . . .DCW
Nov 17, 2001 6:01 AM
then you'd really have something to worry about. Salt is a natural component of perspiration (and other body fluids). When the liquid evaporates, the salt crystals remain on your body and your clothes.

The only real issue is whether you are drinking enough replacement fluids to keep your body chemistry in a healthy zone. With a normal diet, water alone is usually thought adequate for short workouts. My rule of thumb is to drink good sports drinks for rides over an hour. They will not only keep my electrolytes in better balance, they provide an energy source. Over two hours and I like to have a little something to eat also, perhaps a banana or a Tiger's Milk Bar. For a century, which is a five-to-six hour affair, I'll eat a lot more food.

Because I tend to like to drink more liquid if it's in the form of flavored drinks than just plain water, I always carry sports drinks (usually Cytomax, occasionally Accelerade, which has protein that helps sugar uptake), but always diluted more than the directions recommend. Depending on the intensity of the ride, the heat and humidity, I drink about 16 oz. per hour, more as those factors rise. I try to drink often, perhaps every ten or fifteen minutes, before I feel thirsty.

Of course, your size and conditioning are factors. You are heavier than I am and will likely need more liquids than I do because you are doing more work. Although it is possible to drink too much, it's hard to do. I doubt that you'll have that problem. Even those little pros, who are nearly perfect human cycling machines, need an amazing amount of liquid on their rides.

So keep your body supplied with liquids and energy sources, and it'll run like a top. Fail to do that and it will lose efficiency rapidly. Get too low on either and it's bonk time. You may recall that Lance made that mistake in the 2000 TdF on a long day with serious climbing. Of course, for him "bonking" means that he just rides more like a normal human being. For us, it means we are in danger of falling off our bikes.

Hope this helps.
Well said.nigel
Nov 17, 2001 9:32 AM
I have the salt problem sometimes, too (my helmet straps are almost always salty after a good ride), but I tend to sweat a lot more than most. I've learned to drag along one big bottle for water and one for Gatorade (twice the sodium of Powerade), Cytomax, or another electolyte-replacement bevvy. I find this to be VERY important, since we lose a lot of salt and other precious minerals on rides. Gotta replace those quickly and adequately. If you have to pick either water or a sports drink, I'd go with the sports drink. Buying canisters of Cytomax, for example, works out to be much cheaper than buying individual Gatorades from the store.

Salt replacementKerry Irons
Nov 17, 2001 2:23 PM
As noted in the other replies, this is just what is left over after your sweat evaporates. For shorter distances, all you need to do is replace the lost water - most of us get plenty of salt in our diets to replace those losses. However, if you're finding a salty crust on a regular basis, and you're doing serious distance, then you face the risk of loosing too much salt during the ride, which can trigger dehydration and cramping. So for long distances, there's nothing wrong with salted pretzels at the break, or even a bag of chips. Alternatively, being generous with the salt shaker at dinner is more than enough for most people.
Does anybody know...Kristin
Nov 18, 2001 6:24 AM
Does the body store all of the salt that we take in, only what it needs or none of it??

Also, I've noticed that some people sweat more salt than others. Why is that? Are there any notable physiological differences between someone who sweats a lot of salt and someone who sweats out very little?
It's all personalKerry Irons
Nov 18, 2001 1:50 PM
The body does not store salt (no place to put it) but rather is constantly working on controlling the of the various ions (primarily sodium, potassium, and calcium) in your blood and cells. Each of us has an equilibrium concentration that the body strives to maintain, though the range of difference between people is relatively small. If you take in more salt, your body will tend to hold water (to dilute the salt), sweat will be saltier, and urine will be saltier too.

As you aclimate to hot weather exercise, your sweat becomes more profuse, starts sooner, and contains less salt. Different people sweat different amounts, and even the nature of their sweat varies. We ride with one guy whose sweat must be acidic, as he has destroyed a couple of steel frames and really trashes his components as well. He sweats profusely too, compounding the problem.
It's all personalColuberBiker
Nov 19, 2001 1:15 AM
You lose more minerals than just sodium in your sweat; in fact, calcium loss from sweat is sometimes an issue for people who take in what would normally be enough calcium, except that lose it to sweat. It's important to take in enough salt to compensate for salt that is lost while riding.
I like to take milk, orange juice, and clif bars or something on long rides, because I can't stand sports drinks. Milk actually keeps surprisingly long, even in warm weather, especially if you can insulate it. But even if you can't, it will be fine for at least six or seven hours if you have more than half a cup or so of it. (call me crazy, but I'm a bit of a milk-aholic) It's amazing how much I can perk up after riding 80+ miles in the heat and humidity with a gulp of each. Bananas are good too, if you can manage not to mush them, because of their high potassium content. And of course, water is the most important thing.