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diet and dehydration
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Jeffrey McConnell
diet and dehydration on 10/03/2011 00:37:15 MDT Print View

For some reason I seem to get dehydrated faster than friends and thus require more water when hiking. Is there some type of food I could add to my diet that would possibly help me retain the water longer/stay hydrated longer?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: diet and dehydration on 10/03/2011 00:53:56 MDT Print View

Virtually any electrolytes will help with that. Simple salt, light salt, Gatorade, or any other electrolyte drink. Basically, if you have plain water in your system, it might just pass out through your kidneys, but if you have water with extra electrolytes, it will cause the water to remain longer in your muscle tissues. All of that assumes that you don't have any underlying medical condition of concern.

Personally, I tend to be a little deficient on potassium since I don't consume a lot of fresh tomato, orange, banana, milk, etc. However, Gatorade is rich in potassium, so that goes into my water.

To start, try mixing Gatorade at about 50% strength until you see how that works for your system.


Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: diet and dehydration on 10/03/2011 09:07:42 MDT Print View

Honestly it is just you - keep hydrated and don't worry about how much you need to drink! Tank up at night and in the morning as well. I have one friend who sweats more than any white man I have ever met. I mean he showers when hiking - he sweats that much! But it keeps his body cool which is what he needs. Anyhow he drinks a lot compared to most people. So if you shed water it is just how your body works - and you can't fight it.

But also...wanna bet your friends are always in a constant dehydrated state and don't know it?

But let me add that you should be eating a diet rich in potassium and minerals for your own safety (this regulates how your body uses sodium) and leaves you less likely to suffer from being depleted by constant sweating or peeing. A bag of potato chips, dried fruit, green veggies, etc are always good to consume. As well eating a bit with every water stop is a good thing.

But with Gatoraid, while it works, realize it is pretty much sugar and dye with electrolytes. If you are not used to drinking it, it can cause stomach issues. So drink it sparingly, during the hottest parts of the days.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
chia on 10/03/2011 09:27:05 MDT Print View

I haven't tried it myself but the lady who works at my local health food store mentioned that chia seed can help with dehydration as it absorbs water and keeps it in the body and it can balance electrolytes. I don't know much about this but it may be worth checking out.

edited to add...

Edited by Laurie_Ann on 10/03/2011 09:31:02 MDT.

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: diet and dehydration on 10/03/2011 09:39:37 MDT Print View

It is also possible that it could have to do with how you drink, and definitively how much you sweat. How one drinks may not have much to do with dehydration, but it seems to be somewhat related to how much one needs to drink to feel they have satisfied their thirst.
The following is anecdotal, and I am curious of what others know about it. I tend to take small sips very frequently while I hike; I swish the water in my mouth and must somehow coat or mix it with saliva. I drink more at camp, to make sure I have enough, but the frequent small amounts work really well for me while hiking, even in the heat. My daughter, and several others I have hiked with, seem to drink large amounts at once, pretty much guzzling it from bottle down the throat. Is it possible that the swishing and mixing with saliva, almost "eating" it really, could make a difference in how much water one needs and absorbs , everything else being equal. Could the same individual need less water if they drank it differently?
Another possibility could be breathing. I never, ever breath through my mouth while hiking, no matter how strenuous. I take deeper and deeper breaths through my nose, which also seems to help with pacing uphill and speed of recovery, including returning to a slow heart rate. Breathing through an open mouth may also add to loss of water.
Any thoughts on this?

Jeffrey McConnell
good suggestions on 10/03/2011 10:43:17 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the suggestions. I've been using vitalyte as my electrolyte mix. It seems to have less sugar in it than gatorade. And yes, and I think my friends usually are in a more dehydrated state than me. It just gets annoying because I'm stopping to relieve myself twice as much as them. Makes sense because I drink more, but it made me wonder if there is something I could do about having to make so many stops. I'll definitely add more potassium to my diet - I'm probably not getting enough. Besides that, I guess I'll just keep drinking like I do. It keeps me hydrated, and stopping a lot and staying hydrated is better than the alternative.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: chia on 10/03/2011 14:08:09 MDT Print View

Chia works in that it holds moisture in the stomach and colon - as the seeds swell up. The downside to it is its er....laxative effect when not used to it. It can be added to drinks or made into chia pudding but one has to get used to it - and even a Tablespoon of seeds is a lot when starting out.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
Re: Re: chia on 10/06/2011 13:06:50 MDT Print View

Sarbar... it's much like tvp, lentils, beans, and such — if you aren't used to certain things in the diet then you could have issues. This goes for dried fruits, seeds, nuts, etc. There are great health benefits to eating these types of whole foods at home. A good way to start is to sprinkle a few seeds in a salad or on your morning cereal or yogurt.

PS Many backpackers have the opposite issue on the trail so some chia or flax could be helpful ;)

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Re: Re: chia on 10/06/2011 13:27:40 MDT Print View

Seeds are a real issue to one's colon. Not everyone can handle them and they can be an irratant beyond belief or worse can sit in the colon and get nasty. So get used to them at home and never on the trail for that first time. IMO, this is why I grind up seeds such as chia and flax. Just easier to digest!

Beans don't quite do what seeds do.......

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
hydration on 10/06/2011 13:53:10 MDT Print View

Jeff, do you use a bottle or a hydration tube? I wonder if you sipped more regularly with a hydration tube that you would absorb more instead of it flushing through faster. I find that when I only have a bottle that involves stopping and drinking that I chug a bunch at once but with a tube I sip little bits because I don't have to stop.

pre and post hydrating on hard days is also important.. at breakfast before you hike and before bed

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
caffeine on 10/06/2011 17:27:06 MDT Print View

also avoiding high amounts of caffeine in the days leading up to a hike can be helpful

Jordan Clymer
(jordanclymer) - F

Locale: The Columbia Gorge
Staying hydrated on 10/08/2011 15:31:26 MDT Print View

I do a lot of long distance bicycling, and I used to have the same issue. I'd overheat a lot and be constantly drinking down my water bottles long before anyone else in my group. Turns out, I wasn't hydrating properly and suffering the consequences.
The body has ways to take care of itself but the responses aren't always immediate. So by the time you are feeling thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Because of this, you'll be more likely to drink excessive amounts of water. However the dehydrated body will have lower blood plasma levels and will circulate less blood to the skin and won't cool you as efficiently. This will lead you to drinking more water, ect. It is a vicious cycle, and without electrolytes, it can become very dangerous.
To mitigate this, don't wait until you are thirsty to drink, have timed intervals where you'll be drinking before you get to the point where your body is telling you to drink. Make two separate bottles of water too. One with a concentrated electrolyte mix, and a second of just plain water. Doing this will allow you take a small sip of electrolyte and follow it with a bigger drink of water. Helping your body to keep everything in balance. =)

Another problem can sometimes just be having a dry mouth that spurs you on to drinking. The act of having something in the mouth will create saliva and will keep you from having such a dry mouth. Gum, taffy, a raisin, peanut, or even just a tiny pebble will work.

Edited by jordanclymer on 10/08/2011 15:38:41 MDT.