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Training and competing in the heat

Over 30 degrees, shimmering asphalt and not a cloud in the sky. We already have a few hot races behind us this season. And the crowning achievement, the Ironman Hawaii, in which the issue of heat tolerance may even play a crucial role, is still ahead of us. But what exactly is the challenge for our bodies at such extreme temperatures?
Our digestive system also plays a key role in this issue. We'll tell you which ones here.

The effects of extreme stress

In order to maintain performance at all times, energy must be supplied in the form of gels, bars or drinks. Our gastrointestinal tract then has the task of absorbing the substrates and providing the energy obtained. Liquid food is generally easier for the body to process and also has a shorter time in the stomach than solid food.
However, when our body moves in high-intensity areas, stress levels increase and our body enters a kind of escape state. This means that the relevance of blood flow to the gastrointestinal tract decreases and that of the muscles increases.
The result is that blood flow in the digestive system can decrease by up to 15%.

The importance of blood flow for the stomach

The blood flow has 2 elementary tasks. On the one hand, this supplies the stomach with energy and oxygen and, on the other hand, it provides cooling. Reduced blood flow in the stomach means that optimal cooling cannot be guaranteed, which results in a rapid rise in temperature. This leads to a shift in the PH value, which changes the enzyme activity. However, enzymes are largely responsible for ensuring that our body can go through the process of absorption and that energy continues to be provided to us.
This also changes the length of time the supplied substrates stay in the stomach.
Ultimately, so much accumulates in the stomach until it is excreted orally. However, if there is still reduced enzyme activity, the stomach contents slip into the small intestine. Due to the lack of absorption, it continues into the large intestine, where bacterial fermentation occurs. The result is flatulence and unwanted toilet trips.
However the stomach contents are excreted, the body loses a lot of water and electrolytes. However, these are crucial for our muscle function, resorption and the maintenance of countless other functions and mechanisms and consequently crucial for our performance.

How do I prepare my body for a heat battle

Measurements of all kinds and gadgets related to the topic of sweat loss have become increasingly important in recent years. Considering that an athlete's core body temperature can rise to 40 degrees, this procedure is extremely important.
In order to relieve our body in the high summer temperatures, we should permanently try to lower the core temperature by cooling certain parts of the body. In addition to the palms of the hands, the forehead and the soles of the feet, this also includes the area around the heart.
In addition, energy intake under hot conditions should be practiced during training.
We particularly advise salty sweaters (athletes with extreme sweat marks) to undergo a sweat test in advance. Since we lose a lot of sweat and therefore a lot of electrolytes through the skin, you should know what needs to be replenished into the body during training and competition.

Reach your destination with water and cola?

Water is certainly ideal for rinsing down a gel or for cooling down your head. However, not to provide yourself with plenty of food. If you drink too much water during a competition, it can even be life-threatening due to a significant change in electrolyte concentration. It flushes out the body, so to speak, but does not counteract the feeling of thirst.
In addition, it does not contain important electrolytes. - By the way, neither is Cola. But it has an extremely high sugar and caffeine content.
Cola is one of the hypertonic drinks (the particle concentration of the drink is higher than that of the blood) and is therefore very difficult for the body to absorb.
The added caffeine in the cola also stimulates the digestive tract, which further increases the risk of unwanted drug stops.

The optimal racing catering

During a competition you should use isotonic (particle concentration of drink = particle concentration of blood), ideally hypotonic (particle concentration of drink < particle concentration of blood) drinks.
You should also make sure that the loss of electrolytes is compensated for. Since the values ​​vary extremely from athlete to athlete and sometimes differ by up to 100%, we recommend individual sweat testing. (Ex.: sodium 700-1500 mg/l sweat, magnesium: 2-10 mg/l sweat, calcium: 20-40 mg/l sweat)
Would you like to know more about the ideal sports drink? Then click through THIS post and find out more about our OMNi-POWER® CARBOTONIC sports drink.

Our experts

about the author

Julia Skala in Magenta OMNi-BiOTiC Power Team Anzug läuft Triathlon

Julia skala

Professional triathlete
Content Creator OMNi-POWER®