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Thread: what to drink during longer practice

  1. #1
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    Question what to drink during longer practice

    Hi, I notice that I tend to get headaches after intense, longer swim practices, even though I feel fine during the practice. I drink plenty of water before and during practice but still get the headaches. I also noticed that I tend not to get the headaches when I have some sports drink mixed with water during the swim. So I'm thinking the headache is connected with a drop in blood sugar.

    I have been using Gatorade, but I don't like that it is so high in sugar, so I'd like to find a better option -- either something I could buy or make myself. Any suggestions? Here are my criteria:


    • Low in sugar but not with artificial sweetener, including xylitol (which gives me digestive issues)
    • Not loaded with excessive vitamins or strange ingredients
    • Not expensive
    • No caffeine


    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

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    Very Active Member Sumorunner's Avatar
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    Re: what to drink during longer practice

    I don't get headaches, but toe, foot, or calf cramps after an hour or more. My solution probably violates your strange ingredient dictum but here goes. I drink pickle juice. It costs about $10 a gallon but I water it down a bit so a jug lasts a couple months.

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    Re: what to drink during longer practice

    Quote Originally Posted by Sumorunner View Post
    I don't get headaches, but toe, foot, or calf cramps after an hour or more. My solution probably violates your strange ingredient dictum but here goes. I drink pickle juice. It costs about $10 a gallon but I water it down a bit so a jug lasts a couple months.
    Thanks for the smile! By "strange ingredients," I was thinking of sketchy ingredients that promise to change your body or enhance your performance -- but I'd put pickle juice in a different subcategory of "strange ingredients" because the smell of it would probably make me feel queasy during practice

    I've tried watered-down orange juice, which isn't bad, but then all my teammates tease me about having mimosas during practice (:

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    Active Member airborne18th's Avatar
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    Re: what to drink during longer practice

    what is the temperature of the water and actually the ambient temp as well?

    But you might want to consider sodium in your hydration routine. Everyone sweats out sodium at different levels, and the more you lose the less water your muscles retain. It is a function of carbs as well. If you naturally lose more sodium in your sweat than most people then you might want to add a bit of sodium to your pre-swim hydration.
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    Very Active Member knelson's Avatar
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    Re: what to drink during longer practice

    Quote Originally Posted by shera View Post
    I have been using Gatorade, but I don't like that it is so high in sugar
    Actually you SHOULD like it. That sugar will provide energy during your workout. Personally I prefer to mix regular Gatorade with water to drink when I'm workout out, though.

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    Very Active Member Sojerz's Avatar
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    Re: what to drink during longer practice

    You might want to try a product called "Scratch" that cyclists use - its much "lighter" than Gatorade (even cut 50-50) and comes as a powder for mixing into your water bottle. Its low carb and contains electrolytes. There are various flavors too - lemon-lime is great and so is the green tea. You can probably get it on the web or call around to a few local cycle shops.
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    Re: what to drink during longer practice

    Quote Originally Posted by airborne18th View Post
    what is the temperature of the water and actually the ambient temp as well?

    But you might want to consider sodium in your hydration routine. Everyone sweats out sodium at different levels, and the more you lose the less water your muscles retain. It is a function of carbs as well. If you naturally lose more sodium in your sweat than most people then you might want to add a bit of sodium to your pre-swim hydration.
    Do you think that the pool water and air might be too hot? I didn't check the temp but come to think of it, it did feel a little warm.

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    Active Member airborne18th's Avatar
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    Re: what to drink during longer practice

    Quote Originally Posted by shera View Post
    Do you think that the pool water and air might be too hot? I didn't check the temp but come to think of it, it did feel a little warm.
    I would bet on it. Most aquatic facilities are catering to people doing aqua classes. You should always check the temperatures. I am an ice swimmer, and cold water swimmer, so checking the air and water temp is the first thing I do. Whether it is in a pool or the ocean. But the intensity and type of workout should be adjusted for the conditions. And both temperatures matter.. water and air. The difference in water temp might be small,, but there is a huge difference to your body swimming in water temperatures at 83-85.. versus 80-78.. and that is not even factoring in the air temp.
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    Re: what to drink during longer practice

    Thanks!

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    Very Active Member ourswimmer's Avatar
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    Re: what to drink during longer practice

    Quote Originally Posted by shera View Post
    Hi, I notice that I tend to get headaches after intense, longer swim practices, even though I feel fine during the practice. I drink plenty of water before and during practice but still get the headaches. I also noticed that I tend not to get the headaches when I have some sports drink mixed with water during the swim. So I'm thinking the headache is connected with a drop in blood sugar.
    If you don't bonk during practice and you eat after practice, low blood sugar probably is not your culprit. Dehydration, or electrolyte imbalance because of over-hydration without salt, is more likely.

    For an early morning one-hour workout I usually just drink coffee before the workout and a little water during it. For a longer, tougher workout or for a long OW swim I use a low- or no-sugar electrolyte drink to avoid calf cramps late in the swim or a headache later. I like the Hammer Fizz electrolyte tablets, but the nuun tablets also work and taste fine.

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    Very Active Member flystorms's Avatar
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    Re: what to drink during longer practice

    I've used a product called UCan in the past for long swims/races and it works well in keeping the blood sugar levels very steady and even. I think you can get it in single serving packets to try out before you do a canister of the stuff. It's a little chalky, but it works well - no bonking or sugar waves.
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    Very Active Member aztimm's Avatar
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    Re: what to drink during longer practice

    Have you been to a doctor lately, or do you have any upcoming appointments? There could be an underlying problem that they may catch through blood work.

    Quote Originally Posted by shera View Post
    I have been using Gatorade, but I don't like that it is so high in sugar,
    Along with sugar, Gatorade (and other sports drinks) are high in electrolytes, which can be bad if you have any heart issues, or are prone to getting them (family history, past events, etc.)
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    Very Active Member JPEnge's Avatar
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    Re: what to drink during longer practice

    There are already plenty of serious answers here, so...
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    400 IMer/200 backstroker in another life, now sprinter/breaststroker... Yeah, I don't know how that happened either!

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    Re: what to drink during longer practice

    Not cheap but Infinit. They can custom make a blend for you. I use the USMS Race Day Formula. If you watch they sometimes run a 2 for 1 special.

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    Re: what to drink during longer practice

    I always used the powdered Gatorade mix for long practices, mixed at about half the ratio that they suggest (so double the water). It's pretty cheap, a tub costs like $10-15 and lasts forever.

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    Re: what to drink during longer practice

    Thanks...I just had a physical and checked out OK, but I agree it would be good to bring up at my next visit.

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    Very Active Member orca1946's Avatar
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    Re: what to drink during longer practice

    I found a flavored water drink at Costco that sits well with me.

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    Re: what to drink during longer practice

    Quote Originally Posted by orca1946 View Post

    I found a flavored water drink at Costco that sits well with me.
    Thanks! I will look into Costco.

    An update on my search: I ended up trying Skratch and really liked it, though it's a bit more expensive than I'd hoped for. I did not see it locally so bought it directly through the company. I thought the company had great customer service.

    When I look at the Skratch ingredients, I think it is possible to DIY by adding extra lemon or lime juice to lemonade, plus some sodium. It is an all-natural product with not many ingredients. Sure is convenient to have the powder handy for days I'm in a hurry.

    I think it is the sodium I had been missing because I tend to have low blood pressure and my doctor told me a while back that I should actually increase my sodium intake. I've tried drinking water with a little Skratch powder during a few practices and have felt great afterwards, though granted, I'm not swimming as long or intensely these days, so it's not been put to a real test, yet.

    Thanks to everyone for helping me think this through and I will post an update if I learn anything else that might be helpful to other swimmers. And now for no reason, a dancing banana (:

    Last edited by shera; May 26th, 2018 at 12:49 PM.

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