Acute sodium loading

Depending on which source you’re reading it looks like the water retention ranges from 500-1500mL. Fluid consumption protocols range from ~750-2000mL on average.

This is not yet an area where I am well versed in all literature so I’m not qualified to tease out the differences just yet. :slight_smile:

It’s been on my to-do list for a while and this discussion has bumped it up my reading list because I’m getting the feeling that I’m underdosing sodium pre-training for folks in hot climates.

That’s correct. Both are independently beneficial.


It’s not. I wrote the bit about washing out sodium in response to having several athlete/clients do something different. Sodium load the night before “trying to get hydrated” and then continue chugging water the morning of the event, only to find out that they had not included any sodium the morning of the event. Result: poor performance, cramps, fatigue.

Good to know - this is probably along the lines of how I would have tried to do it. I’ll have to look into this more as a lot of my summer riding is in the heat and I seem to sweat a lot.
It seems like with salt/water loading, and carb loading one could have several kg of ‘extra’ water onboard at the start of a long event.

Yep. My wife and I always joke that we know we’ve loaded something or other when we’re bloated, vascular, and our blood pressure feels like it’s 10-20mmHg higher than normal.

we live in the same area and when I started training in 2016 the CTS blog had some helpful information, in particular the one I posted above. I do a lot of mid-week riding in the afternoon heat, but weekends are often hot too like on Sunday we started in Colfax at 8:30am and rode up to Dutch Flat and Drum Power House Road, and coming back the Rollins Lake descent was 95-97F and the Norton climb into Colfax my Garmin was showing 104F (maybe on the pavement, but still…).

What I learned from the CTS articles and Wed night worlds - drinking 16-24 ounces of water/electrolytes about an hour before a hot ride will kick start the sweat response and improve performance. Yeah its kinda weird starting to sweat before putting the kit on, but it works and once outside it makes the ride so much better.

Some of the Garmin stuff is good to cross reference, like the heat chart:

and per ride stuff like on Sunday:

always stay on top of hydration, if you get behind it takes a long time to recover. As opposed to carbs, where you can pop a gel or drink a coke and get a quick boost. Post ride hydration is also important.

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Thanks - this is helpful. I have really found that post-ride hydration is important for me, especially in the case of a longer hot ride. I’m not sure I have the salt/water ratio’s right - I think I likely need to up the sodium concentration a bit.
Pre-hydration is definitely on my list for my next hot ride. I’m stuck indoors a lot, so I need to remember to do this for that too - a 90 degree garage is not much fun :slight_smile:

I absolutely pre-hydrate an hour before a trainer ride in the hot garage. Back in 2016-2017 I tried a lot of different stuff, and IIRC Grocery Outlet had some great deals on Gatorade and I’d toss one in the freezer around 3:15pm, then start drinking it around 3:45 and leaving for a ride at 4:45pm. It was a good ‘lazy’ option at the time, and worked well.

That’s great advice. Just don’t mention it in the “i love carbs” thread. Been there, done that :joy:


Funny thing is I got stronger at the end of that climbing ride, despite only having 400 calories of fig bars. Probably another 200 calories in liquids. Figure that was roughly 30% of the ~2000 cals burned. That strategy has generally worked very well for me on 3-6 hour rides, even at upper tempo IF.

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Hrmm…I’m not seeing that on the 2021 list.

It was apparently added starting in 2015, but removed again in 2018.


Sweet! Looks like you’re right. I think a paper came out in 2017 showing that it didn’t affect detection ability for EPO or similar. Glad to see WADA making appropriate adjustments in this case.


Executed the Greenleaf/Sims acute sodium loading protocol again this morning…but followed it up with a ~20min effort. Kind of in a ‘phase II’ type of way. Not an all out effort but at or maybe a little below threshold.

It continues to be surprising that there is zero gastrointestinal discomfort from taking down this much sodium. Even followed up by some fairly hard efforts.

Does it make me faster? I don’t know but at least it doesn’t make me slower so I’ll continue to fiddle with it. Could be a useful trick to have before a crit/short road race in hot weather.


Do you mind sharing what you did/consumed and how you timed it?

7.8 grams (di)sodium citrate & 4.5 gram NaCl dissolved in 1 liter of water chilled in the 'fridge over night. About an hour before the ride drink 100ml…wait 10 minutes…drink 100ml…wait 10 minutes…repeat until I drank 800ml. I weigh 183 - 185lbs. They give some guidance in their paper(s) regarding how much of the solution to drink depending on weight but I don’t recall off the top of my head.

I warmed up for about 20 minutes and then did the (threshold). Then I noodled around for a little bit and did a VO2 effort just because my experience with BiCarb is that at that ~70 minute mark it starts to…you know…make things start to move around down there. No such feeling with acute sodium loading, though.



How are you calculating the sodium content for sodium citrate? I also would prefer to use sodium citrate but I cannot get a reliable calc on the amount of sodium is in sodium citrate vs other sources of sodium.

Sodium Citrate has about 1000mg sodium per tsp.

Has anyone used sodium bicarbonate to both sodium load and provide some serum buffering capacity? I know the ergogenic effects for bicarb are at about 10x the rate ~20,000mg so the effect would not be as obvious but some buffering would be helpful I would think.

There are protocols for bicarb loading. I’m not yet expert there though it’s on my shortlist.

Done wrong, it’s a recipe for much more severe and prolonged GI distress than sodium loading, or mishandling of intra-workout carbs/sodium. Can wipe out gut flora and ruin digestion for a few days.

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Confirmed, unfortunately


which protocol did you use?