Post work weight loss doesn't equal fluid loss...?

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Post work weight loss doesn't equal fluid loss...?

Postby Jwolf » Sat Dec 04, 2010 6:54 pm

I posted this article in Food/nutrition but there was no discussion...

I read it a couple times and still couldn't really tell how it could help me hydrate better. :? For long distances is it still really ok to drink to thirst?
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Re: Post work weight loss doesn't equal fluid loss...?

Postby fe.RMT » Sat Dec 04, 2010 6:58 pm

Jwolf wrote:I posted this article in Food/nutrition but there was no discussion...

I read it a couple times and still couldn't really tell how it could help me hydrate better. :? For long distances is it still really ok to drink to thirst?


It would appear that that's the suggestion at the bottom of the article. I was more interested in the 'science-y' aspect of the article than the practical application :)
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Re: Post work weight loss doesn't equal fluid loss...?

Postby Jwolf » Sat Dec 04, 2010 7:10 pm

fe.sweetpea wrote:
Jwolf wrote:I posted this article in Food/nutrition but there was no discussion...

I read it a couple times and still couldn't really tell how it could help me hydrate better. :? For long distances is it still really ok to drink to thirst?


It would appear that that's the suggestion at the bottom of the article. I was more interested in the 'science-y' aspect of the article than the practical application :)


That's what Alex's conclusion is, yes. I'm not convinced.

I like Alex, but his articles often leave me with more questions than answers. I guess there are no easy answers to this stuff- so much of it is individual.

My question for you, Terri, is: what is the point of the "science-y" stuff if there is no practical application? ;)
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Re: Post work weight loss doesn't equal fluid loss...?

Postby Hammie » Sat Dec 04, 2010 7:38 pm

I think the point of the article is to show that the current methods that we try and use to quantify how much fluid we "should" be drinking are crude at best, in part because they treat the body like a single fluid compartment. A physiologist friend of mine calls that the "salt water doughnut" model of humanity, because it treats us like a single fluid filled compartment with a hollow hole through the middle :lol: . This is starting to get at the interaction between water content of different parts of the body (and, maybe, the hormonal changes that drive those changes) during exercise.

There is a practical application, which is to illustrate that formulas (like pre-post exercise weights, or calculating a volume of fluid per x minutes of exercise) aren't accurate simply because they are precise, and that drinking to thirst is just as reasonable (if not more so) than any other strategy.

I would be interested to see a study where they had people exercising under the same conditions, divided into groups either drinking prescribed amounts or to thirst, while having isotope tracers followed as well as body weight, urine volume, electrolytes & osmolality, blood osmolality, and serum sodium concentration measured, to see weather it makes any difference in those measures of hydration, as well as correlating that with performance data. That would be crazy expensive to do, but would be interesting.
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Re: Post work weight loss doesn't equal fluid loss...?

Postby La » Sat Dec 04, 2010 7:42 pm

Hammie wrote:I would be interested to see a study where they had people exercising under the same conditions, divided into groups either drinking prescribed amounts or to thirst, while having isotope tracers followed as well as body weight, urine volume, electrolytes & osmolality, blood osmolality, and serum sodium concentration measured, to see weather it makes any difference in those measures of hydration, as well as correlating that with performance data. That would be crazy expensive to do, but would be interesting.

When I win the lottery I will fund that study if you'll do it, OK? :wink:
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Re: Post work weight loss doesn't equal fluid loss...?

Postby fe.RMT » Sat Dec 04, 2010 9:28 pm

Jwolf wrote:My question for you, Terri, is: what is the point of the "science-y" stuff if there is no practical application? ;)


Mostly because I find it interesting when commonly held beliefs are prodded. Sometimes the application comes later. Sometimes I just think it's cool to see someone asking the question 'why'
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Re: Post work weight loss doesn't equal fluid loss...?

Postby Hammie » Sat Dec 04, 2010 9:28 pm

La wrote:
Hammie wrote:I would be interested to see a study where they had people exercising under the same conditions, divided into groups either drinking prescribed amounts or to thirst, while having isotope tracers followed as well as body weight, urine volume, electrolytes & osmolality, blood osmolality, and serum sodium concentration measured, to see weather it makes any difference in those measures of hydration, as well as correlating that with performance data. That would be crazy expensive to do, but would be interesting.

When I win the lottery I will fund that study if you'll do it, OK? :wink:


Sounds good to me :lol:
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Re: Post work weight loss doesn't equal fluid loss...?

Postby MichaelMc » Sat Dec 04, 2010 10:15 pm

I've been beating this drum for quite some time, but I'll carry on. :?

Drink to thirst, not on a schedule.

Your body doesn't try to regulate hydration, it tries to regulate osmality (level of electrolytes). That is what controls thirst, and bodies are really sensitive to it.

When you sweat you lose a LOT of water and only a little electrolyte, so if you don't drink your electrolyte level goes UP: THEN you get thirsty. If you drink enough your electrolyte level will go back into balance and you will no longer be thirsty.

If you don't wait until you are thirsty then you may be drinking exactly enough or you may be OVER hydrating: there is no way to tell... until you start getting dizzy. Hyponatemia is MUCH more dangeous than dehydration.

In long races you SHOULD lose weight. You are burning calories, which have weight regardless of the form, and as the article says the glycogen is bound with water. Burn one gram of carbs and you have lost one gram and added three grams of water to your hydration level. There is no way to tell your hydration level from your weight, but if you are exercising, not drinking and staying the same weight you are certainly overdrinking. That is what this study shows.

And finally, my diatribe against heavy electrolyte use. Your sweat varies in salt content because your body is trying to regulate its electrolyte level. If your electrolyte level drops your sweat will have little salt in it, if you pound salt tabs it will be really salty. There is only one reliable gauge of electrolyte level while you are running, and fortunately it is free: thirst. If you try and force in extra elctrolyte it messes up this gauge because salt in your mouth makes you thirsty even if it never makes it into your system (much less to the proper part of the cells). Trying to outguess your body by drinking when you aren't thirsty and taking salt tabs when you don't know what your body needs and can absorb can be dangerous. Gatorade and the "test your sweat" people are both selling "electrolytes", so take their studies... with a grain of salt.

Humans evolved (or were designed) to run long distances in hot temperatures. We are fully equipped for this WITHOUT salt tabs or gatorade.

Drink as soon as you are thirsty, but ONLY when you are thirsty.

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Re: Post work weight loss doesn't equal fluid loss...?

Postby Spirit Unleashed » Sat Dec 04, 2010 10:33 pm

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Re: Post work weight loss doesn't equal fluid loss...?

Postby दिवंगत » Sat Dec 04, 2010 11:13 pm

And I'll beat my drum too.

If you're a heavy sweater and you are exercising for more than a couple of hours, failing to drink ahead of the curve WILL lead to dehydration and it WILL take you down far before ANY risk of hyponatemia, 100% of the time. Your body may well actually regulate electrolytes rather than fluid, but you will actually end up dehydrated and performance will actually suffer if you don't drink enough, early enough.

Granted, dehydration isn't likely to kill you (in an event), but it sure will **** up your race. I guess I agree with Michael if we're dealing strictly in terms of keeping a participant alive. But, if we're talking performance, which is more in line with the spirit if not the stated point of the argument, I absolutely disagree with the generality of his comments.

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Re: Post work weight loss doesn't equal fluid loss...?

Postby Jwolf » Sat Dec 04, 2010 11:20 pm

140.6 wrote:If you're a heavy sweater and you are exercising for more than a couple of hours, failing to drink ahead of the curve WILL lead to dehydration and it WILL take you down far before ANY risk of hyponatemia, 100% of the time. Your body may well actually regulate electrolytes rather than fluid, but you will actually end up dehydrated and performance will actually suffer if you don't drink enough, early enough.

Granted, dehydration isn't likely to kill you (in an event), but it sure will **** up your race. I guess I agree with Michael if we're dealing strictly in terms of keeping a participant alive. But, if we're talking performance, which is more in line with the spirit if not the stated point of the argument, I absolutely disagree with the generality of his comments.


To add to this...
I also wonder about our judgment of thirst as races get longer. Can we really trust ourselves to "drink to thirst"? I know I can run for three hours and end up with a full water bottle at the end if I don't consciously decide to drink.
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Re: Post work weight loss doesn't equal fluid loss...?

Postby SteveF » Sun Dec 05, 2010 1:51 pm

Jwolf wrote:
To add to this...
I also wonder about our judgment of thirst as races get longer. Can we really trust ourselves to "drink to thirst"? I know I can run for three hours and end up with a full water bottle at the end if I don't consciously decide to drink.


This is especially difficult in cold or wet conditions. I know I'm very much guilty of this during the winter LSD days. On those days I make myself have a drink at least every 20 minutes and sometimes it "reminds" me that I'm thirsty.

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Re: Post work weight loss doesn't equal fluid loss...?

Postby MichaelMc » Sun Dec 05, 2010 5:30 pm

140.6 wrote:And I'll beat my drum too.

If you're a heavy sweater and you are exercising for more than a couple of hours, failing to drink ahead of the curve WILL lead to dehydration and it WILL take you down far before ANY risk of hyponatemia, 100% of the time. Your body may well actually regulate electrolytes rather than fluid, but you will actually end up dehydrated and performance will actually suffer if you don't drink enough, early enough.

Granted, dehydration isn't likely to kill you (in an event), but it sure will **** up your race. I guess I agree with Michael if we're dealing strictly in terms of keeping a participant alive. But, if we're talking performance, which is more in line with the spirit if not the stated point of the argument, I absolutely disagree with the generality of his comments.

Rant also off...


Dehydration to what level? If you follow your thirst, regardless of your sweat amount you will NOT dramatically dehydrate. Bodies can tolerate a LOT of water loss as long as the electrolyte level stays in balance. The WINNERS of marathons generally end up losing 7% of their bodyweight, and WINNING. Drinking "ahead of the curve" is by definition overhydrating, it is like turning ahead of the curve on a road: not a good way to get around a corner. And no, dehydration will NOT take you down far before hyponatremia 100% of the time. Not remotely. Water gets taken into the system quickly, so there is no NEED to drink ahead and it doesn't HELP your performance to be overhydrated.

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa043901 a study showing 13% of finishers in the 2002 Boston Marathon were in fact hyponatremic. Not really that rare, and bear in mind the people who are MOST vulnerable are runners who are running longer: Boston is far from a "worst case" marathon to look at.

Can we ignore thirst? Sure, that is possible. My advice going into a race is as you approach a water stop, ask yourself "am I thirsty?" If the answer is "Yes", or even "maybe", grab some water and take a drink: you'll know as soon as you take a sip. I ask you guys whether you've ever run a marathon and felt "sloshy", or found your fingers swollen, or had difficulty taking in fluids. If so, odds are very good you were overdrinking and to some degree hyponatremic. It isn't rare at all.

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Re: Post work weight loss doesn't equal fluid loss...?

Postby दिवंगत » Sun Dec 05, 2010 5:47 pm

MichaelMc wrote:I ask you guys whether you've ever run a marathon and felt "sloshy", or found your fingers swollen, or had difficulty taking in fluids.

No; and yet with my misguided "over-hydration" strategy I still seem to always exhibit symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration at the end of events longer than a couple of hours. Weird, huh?
Last edited by दिवंगत on Sun Dec 05, 2010 7:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Post work weight loss doesn't equal fluid loss...?

Postby Pat Menzies » Sun Dec 05, 2010 6:44 pm

How different are the signs of dehydration from just being tired? I can't imagine finishing a longer race and having zero signs of expended effort.
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Re: Post work weight loss doesn't equal fluid loss...?

Postby दिवंगत » Sun Dec 05, 2010 7:34 pm

Pat, on the off chance you're not asking rhetorically; why yes, I do believe that after 35 years of athletic competition of one sort or another, including at the professional level, I do know the difference between fatigue and dehydration. ;)

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Re: Post work weight loss doesn't equal fluid loss...?

Postby Spirit Unleashed » Sun Dec 05, 2010 7:54 pm

I ask you guys whether you've ever run a marathon and felt "sloshy", or found your fingers swollen, or had difficulty taking in fluids. If so, odds are very good you were overdrinking and to some degree hyponatremic. It isn't rare at all.
Only in an ultra after 40 miles.

I never worried about electrolytes until I trained for ultras and was running more than 5 hours. Before that, for marathons, I took gels for the sugar. I was told I would need the electrolytes if sweating for the 6 or more hours it would take me to finish the ultra.

I also found that using a hydropak means I drink too much because I can't see how much I'm drinking. If I use small bottles, I tend to monitor fluids more closely.
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Re: Post work weight loss doesn't equal fluid loss...?

Postby MichaelMc » Sun Dec 05, 2010 8:22 pm

140.6 wrote:Pat, on the off chance you're not asking rhetorically; why yes, I do believe that after 35 years of athletic competition of one sort or another, including at the professional level, I do know the difference between fatigue and dehydration. ;)


I'm puzzled. On one hand you are very sure about your position on hydration, on the other hand you say "with my misguided "over-hydration" strategy I still seem to always exhibit symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration at the end of events longer than a couple of hours. Weird, huh?" Weird indeed: I'm not sure that is a point in favor of your approach, it does seem misguided.

So what were the symptoms? The vast majority of symptoms of dehydration are also symptoms overheating, fatigue, or over hydration. There are a few that are NOT, but not the ones most people talk about.

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Re: Post work weight loss doesn't equal fluid loss...?

Postby दिवंगत » Sun Dec 05, 2010 9:01 pm

MichaelMc wrote:I'm puzzled. On one hand you are very sure about your position on hydration, on the other hand you say "with my misguided "over-hydration" strategy I still seem to always exhibit symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration at the end of events longer than a couple of hours. Weird, huh?" Weird indeed: I'm not sure that is a point in favor of your approach, it does seem misguided.

Simple really, despite drinking early and often and before I got thirsty, my body still used more water than it was able to absorb. What's difficult to understand about that?

MichaelMc wrote:So what were the symptoms? The vast majority of symptoms of dehydration are also symptoms overheating, fatigue, or over hydration. There are a few that are NOT, but not the ones most people talk about.

Being thirsty. Drinking and not needing to urinate for hours. Dark coloured urine. sometimes even a headache. You know, the usual.

We can go around for as long as you like. But, to make sure we're talking about the same thing, this is my premise;

Extended exercise with attendant heavy sweating requires hydration ahead of the sensation of thirst due to the inability of the body to absorb fluid fast enough to keep pace with fluid loss leading to eventual dehydration to a level that quantitatively affects exercise performance.
Last edited by दिवंगत on Sun Dec 05, 2010 10:07 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Post work weight loss doesn't equal fluid loss...?

Postby ultraslacker » Sun Dec 05, 2010 9:05 pm

for what it's worth (which may not be much, but whatever! ;), I always drink to thirst, and the only race in which I had significant (ie, inhibiting) dehydration was Powderface42, where it was 30C and sunny for 45k. The rest of the time, drinking to thirst works for me, even up to 13.5 hours at White River! :) I don't measure or track my water intake. I do measure and track my calorie and electrolyte intake though!
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Re: Post work weight loss doesn't equal fluid loss...?

Postby La » Mon Dec 06, 2010 8:36 am

Drinking to thirst can be tricky, though. Many of us don't know what "thirst" feels like, especially in race conditions. That's further compounded (in long-distance events like Ironman) by the effects of "flavour fatigue" where, despite being thirsty, the thought of taking one mouthful of Gatorade (or whatever you're drinking) is repulsive.

I'm sure I drink far less than I really should, especially in cool weather.

Going back to the OP, I'm not sure I fully understand what the study is saying. If I weigh less after exercise than I did before (despite having consumed water and food), have I not lost that weight in some form? I always attributed that to lost water. If not that, then what did I lose?
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Re: Post work weight loss doesn't equal fluid loss...?

Postby Pat Menzies » Mon Dec 06, 2010 8:52 am

La wrote:Drinking to thirst can be tricky, though. Many of us don't know what "thirst" feels like, especially in race conditions. That's further compounded (in long-distance events like Ironman) by the effects of "flavour fatigue" where, despite being thirsty, the thought of taking one mouthful of Gatorade (or whatever you're drinking) is repulsive.

I'm sure I drink far less than I really should, especially in cool weather.

Going back to the OP, I'm not sure I fully understand what the study is saying. If I weigh less after exercise than I did before (despite having consumed water and food), have I not lost that weight in some form? I always attributed that to lost water. If not that, then what did I lose?

Does your caloric intake during the exercise match the theoretical caloric demands of the exercise? If there is any sort of deficit then there is your answer. You're certainly not just working on the stuff you take in after you start moving.
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Re: Post work weight loss doesn't equal fluid loss...?

Postby Joe Dwarf » Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:45 am

Pat Menzies wrote:Does your caloric intake during the exercise match the theoretical caloric demands of the exercise? If there is any sort of deficit then there is your answer. You're certainly not just working on the stuff you take in after you start moving.
That's true enough. I don't think it's possible to eat enough on the run. According to my Garmin, over the half-marathon distance I'm burning over 1500 calories. I'm sure as hell not going to suck back 15 gels in under 2 hours. OTOH that's still less than a half-pound of weight loss, so it's relatively small. I'll typically drink my full 24 oz bottle training over a 20k training run and still be 4 or 5 lbs lighter than when I started, so I'm thinking I lose at least 5 lbs of water. Keeping up with water loss is therefore also not happening, as I would have to drink a half-gallon on the run to do that.

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Re: Post work weight loss doesn't equal fluid loss...?

Postby Jwolf » Mon Dec 06, 2010 10:10 am

Joe Dwarf wrote:
Pat Menzies wrote:Does your caloric intake during the exercise match the theoretical caloric demands of the exercise? If there is any sort of deficit then there is your answer. You're certainly not just working on the stuff you take in after you start moving.
That's true enough. I don't think it's possible to eat enough on the run. According to my Garmin, over the half-marathon distance I'm burning over 1500 calories. I'm sure as hell not going to suck back 15 gels in under 2 hours. OTOH that's still less than a half-pound of weight loss, so it's relatively small. I'll typically drink my full 24 oz bottle training over a 20k training run and still be 4 or 5 lbs lighter than when I started, so I'm thinking I lose at least 5 lbs of water. Keeping up with water loss is therefore also not happening, as I would have to drink a half-gallon on the run to do that.


You're not expected to replace all those calories during the run. But even if there's a deficit, it will be less than a pound's worth of "real" weight from metabolism of fat and glucose.

MOST of the measured weight you lose is water, just like most of the daily fluctuations you see are water weight. I think the point of the article is that it's not nearly as simple as weighing yourself before and after a run to figure out how much water you really need. Some of that water you will lose anyway and it's not a bad thing.
Last edited by Jwolf on Mon Dec 06, 2010 10:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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