Cramping, Sodium, Women's Hydration with Precision Hydration's Andy Blow - Ask a Cycling Coach 260

Precision Hydration’s Andy Blow joins the podcast this week to discuss all things hydration, including dealing with muscle cramps, balancing your sodium levels, women’s specific hydration and more in Episode 260 of The Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast.

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Topics covered in this episode:

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Episode Notes:

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Does anyone recall the source of Amber’s quote in this podcast? I was driving while listening and could not write it down. @ambermalika

Hope everyone enjoyed Episode 260 with Jonathan, Amber and Andy!

As Jonathan mentioned, if you do want to book a one-to-one video consultation with a Sweat Expert from Precision Hydration, you can book a slot between Monday 25th May and Friday 5th June through this link:

Or feel free to fire over any further questions you have either here or by emailing us at:

Thanks all!



Thanks for an interesting podcast! I’d like to hear your input on the following:

  • Given the exact same protocol/environment/conditions/nutrition etc. how much variation in sweat rate (and also concentration) do you see for the same athlete on a day to day basis?
  • What are your best tips on fueling before and during a multi hour ride/race if you want to avoid needing to take a pee break? (Try to exactly match the electrolyte concentration of your blood or not? Other points?)

I’ve booked an appointment, thanks!

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Are the successful athlete podcasts going to be on the same feed?

I just asked this question on your Facebook page but I’ll put it here too:

Hello, a friend was saying that consuming gels will dehydrate me when cycling. Is that true? They reckon to get carbs from stuff like Clif shot bloks or lollies like jelly babies etc. Personally I don’t like commercial lollies as I feel they are full of vegetable gum which sits heavy in my stomach, but I do like the Clif bloks. Just wondering what your opinion is?

Just ordered some PH1500 and PH1000 drinks and tablets to try, based on your online Q&A.

Nassim Taleb:

Looking forward to chatting on Friday Brian!

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Hi @Rizzi,

Thanks for the message and Q’s, it’s great to hear that you enjoyed the podcast!

No problem to answer these, I’ll do so in bullet-points below:

  • Firstly, I think it’s improtant to seperate out both Sweat Rate and Sweat Sodium Concentration. Sweat Rate is always ‘in flux’ and is heavily affected by an array of variables (temp, humidity, exercise intensity, hormones, to name just a few). However, we do still still ‘heavy sweaters’ and ‘light sweaters’, for example on an easy ride in cool conditions a heavy sweater will still sweat far more than a light sweater and vice versa. Whereas Sweat Sodium Concentration is far more stable and predominantly determined by genetics. We’ve done a lot of repeat athlete sweat testing in Pro sport over the years now (as well as plenty of ‘in-house’ repeat testing) and we’ve seen very little significant change. In instances where we have some a degree of change it usually would not change the practical recommendations (e.g. if someone shifts from a sweat sodium concentration of 1205mg/L to a 1090mg/L it really doesn’t change what they should be drinking) as we’re not aiming for a perfect like-for-like replacement, athletes should be looking to supplement with the lowest effective dosage to enable continued performance.

  • Similar to my point above, aiming for 100% replacement is often unnecessary and can lead to a lot more problems than it solves! The best tip for not needing to pee more than normal (although ‘normal’ is very individual and whole different conversation) is to not over-drink a low strength electrolyte drink or plain water. Sodium aids in fluid retention and having an appropriate amount in your bottles for you, then largely drinking it thirst, should avoid any excess pee’ing. As for fuelling plans, Andy’s wrote a great blog based on his personal experiences fuelling alongside PH which is definitely worth a read on this topic:

I hope this helps but if you have any more questions feel to free to ask below!

Hi @hurdle,

Thanks for the Q, I know Abby came back to you over the weekend on facebook but I’ll answer here too so everyone can see because it’s something that might help overs in the forum!

If you were only consuming gels (no liquids at all), then yes you’d become dehydrated as the fluid content in gels alone is not enough to offset your sweat losses most of the time, especially if you’re working hard and sweating heavily for a prolonged period of time.

We’re big advocates of separating out your hydration and fuel, getting your electrolytes and fluid from your bottles and calories (mainly carbs) from solids or semi-solids (gels). We’re with you on the Clif Bloks, a lot of the team really like these and find they work well alongside PH on longer, tougher rides and runs.

On this topic, Andy’s wrote a great blog on his personal experiences fuelling alongside PH over the years and it’s well worth a read when you have 5 minutes:

I hope this helps to some degree, let us know if you have any further questions.


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loved the podcast and insights.

Would like to give the stuff a go, but I am bit confused about the output given by the online Q&A.

I would say I am in the middle of the park in terms of sweat quantity and only get minor stinging for intense efforts outdoors. Salt marks, never really seen. However it suggests some hefty things to try - the 1000 and 1500. Is this because it is better to load up a bit more and recover the losses rather than underestimating? I’m looking to improve the during and recovery aspects. I feel that I am short-changing myself for later in the day.

(if you search for Adam Law you will see my recent online Q&A.)


Hi @admigo,

Thanks for taking the time to take our online Sweat Test and to send over your Q’s, it’s great to hear that you loved the podcast!

The advice in our online hydration plans is based on nearly 10 years of work with elite athletes across many sports, including with a long list of pro sports teams in the NFL, NBA, Premier League, Formula 1 etc, and uses an algorithm to provide a starting point for athletes to begin personalizing their hydration strategies. The algorithm looks at factors such as your total training volume, amount of indoor training vs outdoor training, typical race conditions and duration, along with perceptions of your sweat losses (something research has shown has a strong correlation with an individuals actual sweat outputs, but more on that in a second!).

Now, unfortunately not everyone has convenient access to a Sweat Test Center (one day we hope they will!) and this is why we developed the online Sweat Test. Whilst it’s clearly not as good as actually giving us a sample of your sweat to analyse, the online test does have genuine efficacy.

We sent the data from thousands of physical Sweat Tests to some researchers at Sheffield Hallam University and they found a very strong correlation between how athletes perceive their sweat rate and sweat sodium concentration and reality. (We ask the same subjective questions in the Advanced test as we do in the online version and we compared athlete’s perception of their sweat pre-test to the actual sweat test data).

In other words, salty/heavy sweaters tend to know that they’re losing a lot of sodium in their sweat because they see the evidence on their kit and tend to suffer with hydration-related issues, which are caused by not replacing enough of what they’re losing in their sweat. This finding - and a few others - were published in a research paper in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition and here’s a precis of the paper if you’re interested!

With that said, we’re certainly not claiming that the online Sweat Test should be used as anything more as a starting point for some good old fashioned ‘n=1’ trial and error in training, from which you can refine things based on how you respond to our advice.

I like to use this analogy: if our Advanced Sweat Test is like buying a tailored shirt, the online Sweat Test is us suggesting that Athlete X is a Small and Athlete Y is a Large, which is likely to be a better starting point for finding a shirt that fits you than simply giving everyone a Medium, which is what most sports drink brands are currently doing.

Now, on to your specific results. Looking at the volume of training you’re doing, how long you’re racing for and the level at which you’re competing at, we’ve recommended that for particularly long and tough sessions you should try preloading before with a PH1500 and then drinking some PH1000 during the session/race. Although this may seem like a lot, or at least considerably more than what you were taking on previously, we know that the average Sweat Sodium Concentration from all of our physical Sweat Testing is ~950mg/L, so even as a ‘moderate’ sweater you’re likely to be losing quite some sodium within those big sessions and across whole weeks (that’s where the real ‘wins’ come from, aiding consistency).

As for the effect upping your hydration has on recovery, Andy has wrote a great blog on this exact topic and I’d suggest taking 5 minutes to read it (here).

Apologies for the lengthy answer Adam, hopefully that helps? If you’ve got any more questions feel free to fire them over!

Just wanted to say thank you to @PrecisionHydration for hosting the online meet ups. Really informative. Hope everyone can get a chance to try it.

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@PrecisionHydration Thanks for the replies and info. Got my order really quickly and have tried out the hydration strategies so far on 1 indoor workout and 1 outdoor MTB ride. Even though we are coming into winter here (in Australia) I think I could feel a difference with the pre-loading strategy. Yesterday with the MTB ride I actually sweated way more than I expected and my recovery has been great. Great stuff!

Also, I really appreciate that I could pay in AU dollars and have the order shipped from a local wharehouse. Only took 3 days to arrive!

Thanks @PrecisionHydration! This point above is really interesting, the average rate being so high was something I was not aware of at all. Interesting data. Especially also keeping it consistent, that does make sense - but something that I don’t tend to do when coming to hydrating properly (i.e., salt).

The remarks about recovery are also interesting. I am doing a high-volume plan + some outdoor things, and recovery is something I am trying to improve at (the level of water retention now, some days, is really unexpected). Anything that helps the recovery somewhat would be highly beneficial.

Right, will take another look at start pack :slight_smile:

No problem at all @killroy123, it was great to chat with you on Friday, you know where we are when you have any more question about nailing your hydration strategy!

@hurdle thanks for your feedback, it’s great to hear that you’re PH arrived quickly and you’ve been putting it to the test and have noticed some positives effects already!
We’ve been working hard for quite some time to make it super easy for our customers Down Under to get PH in their bottles so your feedback is really appreciated.
If you have any questions as you continue to trial the products and plan please don’t hesitate to send them our way!