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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2018 Aug;50(8):1697-1703. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001597.

Dehydration Impairs Cycling Performance, Independently of Thirst: A Blinded Study.

Author information

1
Hydration Science Lab, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR.
2
Division of Endocrinology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

The aim of the present study was to examine the effect of dehydration on exercise performance independently of thirst with subjects blinded of their hydration status.

METHODS:

Seven male cyclists (weight, 72 ± 9 kg; body fat, 14% ± 6%; peak oxygen uptake, 59.4 ± 6 mL·kg·min) exercised for 2 h on a cycle ergometer at 55% peak oxygen uptake, in a hot-dry environment (35°C, 30% relative humidity), with a nasogastric tube under euhydrated-non-thirst (EUH-NT) and dehydrated-non-thirst (DEH-NT) conditions. In both trials, thirst was matched by drinking 25 mL of water every 5 min (300 mL·h). In the EUH-NT trial, sweat losses were fully replaced by water via the nasogastric tube (calculated from the familiarization trial). After the 2 h of steady state, the subjects completed a 5-km cycling time trial at 4% grade.

RESULTS:

Body mass loss for the EUH-NT and DEH-NT after the 2 h was -0.2% ± 0.6% and -2.2% ± 0.4%, whereas after the 5-km time trial, it was -0.7% ± 0.5% and 2.9% ± 0.4%, respectively. Thirst (35 ± 30 vs 42 ± 31 mm) and stomach fullness (46 ± 21 vs 35 ± 20 mm) did not differ at the end of the 2 h of steady state between EUH-NT and DEH-NT trials (P > 0.05). Subjects cycled faster during the 5-km time trial in the EUH-NT trial compared with the DEH-NT trial (23.2 ± 1.5 vs 22.3 ± 1.8 km·h, P < 0.05), by producing higher-power output (295 ± 29 vs 276 ± 29 W, P < 0.05). During the 5-km time trial, core temperature was higher in the DEH-NT trial (39.2°C ± 0.7°C) compared with the EUH-NT trial (38.8°C ± 0.2°C; P > 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS:

These data indicated that hypohydration decreased cycling performance and impaired thermoregulation independently of thirst, while the subjects were unaware of their hydration status.

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