[Post by Adam Clark – Head of Testing, Precision Hydration NZ /Eusomos Ltd.]
‘To salt or not to salt? ‘is a question more often heard in the kitchen or in health debates. But for athletes sodium is an element that is critical for the functioning of their muscles and nerves, and their ability to train and race well. Sweat can easily account for up to 1500mg of sodium lost an hour, (this is 75% of your ministry of health recommended intake of sodium for an entire day!). This level of loss over consecutive days can quickly lead to sodium depletion in your body.
Sodium lost through sweat varies from person to person, and this variation makes it difficult to find standard ‘off the shelf’ hydration products that can satisfy an athlete’s individual requirements. A UK based company has taken technology, originally designed to diagnose people with cystic fibrosis, and applied it to solving sodium requirements in athletes. Precision Hydration New Zealand has now brought this technology to New Zealand so Kiwi athletes can start taking advantage of accurate rehydration.
Rehydration is a continuing problem for all athletes. Consuming too many electrolytes leads to bloating as the stomach absorbs water to dilute excess solutes. Inadequate electrolytes, especially over long events like ironman, may lead to hyponatraemia which will have an immediate effect on your performance (nausea, muscle cramps, confusion, disorientation, slurred speech), but more worryingly a serious impact on your health through the potential for pulmonary oedema, brain injury and resultant mortality if unchecked.
That’s where Precision Hydration comes in to take the guess work out of your hydration strategies.
Using our unique technology, the “Sweat Inducer”, we can collect and analyze a sample of your sweat without you having to lift a finger. In fact no exercise is required at all. The only thing required from you is the skin on your forearm where the sample is collected from. Once sweating is induced we fit a Macroduct Collector to your arm, collect a sample and analyze. The simple, pain free process is generally completed in less than an hour.
The biggest advantage to the test is that you only have to do it once. The concentration of sodium in your sweat is genetically determined and therefore changes little in a wide range of conditions and fitness levels. So no matter if you’re racing in the lava fields in Kona or cross country skiing in the mountains, the sodium concentration in your sweat will remain relatively stable. This test gives you a clear understanding of the composition of your sweat and we will teach you the best ways to use this information to effectively rehydrate yourself.
Our testing office is located just off the Upper Harbour Drive off ramp on the North Shore of Auckland. Most of our testing is held here but if you have a small group of athletes that would like to be tested (i.e. clubs and sports teams) our equipment is completely portable so we can come to you!
If you would like more details on our services either check out our website at www.h2pronz.com or give us a call on 0212226632
[Post by Cliff Harvey ND with Joe McQuillan MHSc]
There has been a lot of press, and a fair amount of 'buzz' in endurance circles lately about the application of Beet Juice for increasing performance.
If you've been living under a rock you might be thinking “Beet Juice...really?!”
Yes – really! Beet Juice is not the sole domain of kaftan wearing hippies at vegan juice bars any more! It's being used with excellent results by bona fide athletes the world over.
Recently, two research articles presented evidence for increased time-trial performance in well-trained cyclists (relative VO2max ~57 ml/kg/min) following dietary nitrate supplementation using beetroot juice.
I asked nitrate researcher and all-around big brain Joe McQuillan of AUT about the studies:
If you have been following the time-line of beetroot juice as a method to enhance stamina or decrease the cost of exercise you would know there is nothing unusual about the findings—aside from the fact it was carried out on trained cyclists. To ensure transparency of findings both studies utilized a double-blind (researchers and subjects are not aware of whether the drink is nitrate rich or nitrate depleted), repeated measures cross-over (subjects carried out all testing under nitrate rich and nitrate depleted conditions). Diets were also closely monitored so that prior to testing cyclists did not alter their diet in any way, thus reducing the possibility for external alterations to changes in performance.
The choice of drink in both studies was James White Drinks organic beet-it juice, however the two studies employed quite marked loading protocols with Cermak et al (2011) using a 6-day chronic loading phase using 140 ml/day at a concentration of 8.0 mmol. In the second reviewed study, Lansley et al (2011) used 500 ml of 6.2 mmol concentration taken as an acute dose 2.5 hours prior to the 4 km and 16.1 km time-trial. Table 1. details the characteristics of participants, the loading protocols and changes in performance over 4 km,10 km and 16.1 km distance following dietary nitrate supplementation.
Table 1. Variables of interest for nitrate supplementation in well-trained cyclists.
While previous studies have shown changes in performance using ‘healthy’ populations this is the first evidence that dietary nitrate supplementation via natural beetroot juice can enhance performance in a trained group of athletes. A reduction of time by 1% will result in a 34 sec reduction for a 60 min time-trial. To achieve this from as a result of a ‘training effect’ for an already well-trained athlete would require either an increase in training time, change in methodology of training or—if this option exists in the sport – purchasing equipment to go faster or all of the above.
Within their study, Cermak et al (2011) also investigated the impact of nitrate supplementation on two bouts of 30 mins of steady state cycling. To achieve this, participants cycled on an ergometer at 45% and 65% of their peak power output (PPO) based on a previous incremental cycle test. Their ventilation response was measured during this time in order to assess a variety of breathing responses including oxygen (VO2) utilisation and carbon dioxide production (VCO2). As witnessed in previous papers a reduction in VO2 was accompanied by no change in VCO2, total energy utilization, heart rate or rate of perceived exertion. The magnitude of the reduction of VO2 at 45% PPO was 3.5% and at 65% PPO it was 5.2%. Therefore at greater relative intensities, dietary nitrate appears to have a greater effect on enhancement of exercise economy. It would appear that the combined effects of vasodilation, alterations within the mitochondria and improved ATP efficiency are – at least in part—responsible for these physiological improvements which lead to the performance improvements witnessed in the three details time-trials.
The relatively large dosage of Cermak et al (2011) equates to a nitrate intake of ~500 mg. I say relatively large as to ingest the same amount of nitrate through raw vegetables would require eating ~3 moderate lettuces in one sitting. Healthy, yes, but quite impractical as a loading strategy and in the lead up to competition. Obviously, with no preparation required and ease of ingestion 2.5 hours out from an event the beetroot juice is formulated for a sporting focused market. With these relatively new findings expect to see an increasing number of cyclists, runners, multisporters and triathletes of all abilities consuming beetroot juice before their peak events.
Note: The University Standard 'Beet-It' Juice is available via www.beet-it.co.nz
Thanks to Joe McQuillan MHSc (PhD candidate)
Research and popular science articles by the members and faculty of the Holistic Performance Institute.