Glycerol-induced hyperhydration (GIH) has been shown to improve fluid retention and endurance performance compared with water-induced hyperhydration. The goal of this article is to report on what is known and unknown about how glycerol-containing hyperhydration solutions (GCHSs) are processed at the stomach and intestine level, propose strategies to improve the efficacy of GIH, and provide research questions for future studies. Through statistical analyses, it is demonstrated that the effectiveness of GCHSs in increasing fluid retention is maximized when fluid ingestion is in the upper range of what is normally administered by studies (~26 ml/kg body weight) and the duration of the protocol is no longer than the time it takes for the glycerol-fluid load to be totally or nearly completely integrated inside the body. The rate of gastric emptying and intestinal absorption of GCHSs is unknown. However, based on an analysis of indirect evidence obtained from human studies, it is proposed that most glycerol (~80 g) and fluid (~1,700 ml) ingested during a typical GIH protocol can be integrated inside the body within 60–90 min. Whether the stress associated with competition could alter these figures is unknown. Research in rats indicates that combining glycerol with glucose at a 3:1 ratio accelerates intestinal absorption of both glycerol and water, thereby potentially improving the efficacy of GIH. Human studies must be conducted to determine how GCHSs are processed by the gastrointestinal system and whether adding glucose to GCHSs could improve the technique’s efficacy.
The author was with the McGill University Health Centre, Royal Victoria Hospital, Montréal, Québec, Canada, at the time of this study. He is now with the University of Sherbrooke, FEPS, Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada J1K 2R1.