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Lawrence E. Armstrong, Elaine C. Lee, Douglas J. Casa, Evan C. Johnson, Matthew S. Ganio, Brendon P. McDermott, Jakob L. Vingren, Hyun M. Oh and Keith H. Williamson


Exertional hyponatremia (EH) during prolonged exercise involves all avenues of fluid-electrolyte gain and loss. Although previous research implicates retention of excess fluid, EH may involve either loss, gain, or no change of body mass. Thus, the etiology, predisposing factors, and recommendations for prevention are vague—except for advice to avoid excessive drinking.


This retrospective field study presents case reports of two unacquainted recreational cyclists (LC, 31y and AM, 39 years) who began exercise with normal serum electrolytes but finished a summer 164-km ride (ambient, 34±5°C) with a serum [Na+] of 130 mmol/L.


To clarify the etiology of EH, their pre- and post-exercise measurements were compared to a control group (CON) of 31 normonatremic cyclists (mean ± SD; 37±6 years; 141±3 mmol Na+/L).


Anthropomorphic characteristics, exercise time, and post-exercise ratings of thermal sensation, perceived exertion and muscle cramp were similar for LC, AM and CON. These two hyponatremic cyclists consumed a large and similar volume of fluid (191 and 189 ml/kg), experienced an 11 mmol/L decrease of serum [Na+], reported low thirst sensations; however, LC gained 3.1 kg (+4.3% of body mass) during 8.9 hr of exercise and AM maintained body mass (+0.1kg, +0.1%, 10.6h). In the entire cohort (n = 33), post-event serum [Na+] was strongly correlated with total fluid intake (R2 = 0.45, p < .0001), and correlated moderately with dietary sodium intake (R2=0.28, p = .004) and body mass change (R2 = 0.22, p = .02). Linear regression analyses predicted the threshold of EH onset (<135 mmol Na+/L) as 168 ml fluid/kg.


The wide range of serum [Na+] changes (+6 to -11 mmol/L) led us to recommend an individualized rehydration plan to athletes because the interactions of factors were complex and idiosyncratic.

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Matthew S. Ganio, Jennifer F. Klau, Elaine C. Lee, Susan W. Yeargin, Brendon P. McDermott, Maxime Buyckx, Carl M. Maresh and Lawrence E. Armstrong

The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of a carbohydrate-electrolyte plus caffeine, carnitine, taurine, and B vitamins solution (CE+) and a carbohydrate-electrolyte-only solution (CE) vs. a placebo solution (PLA) on cycling performance and maximal voluntary contraction (MVC). In a randomized, double-blind, crossover, repeated-measures design, 14 male cyclists (M ± SD age 27 ± 6 yr, VO2max 60.4 ± 6.8 ml · kg−1 · min−1) cycled for 120 min submaximally (alternating 61% ± 5% and 75% ± 5% VO2max) and then completed a 15-min performance trial (PT). Participants ingested CE+, CE, or PLA before (6 ml/kg) and every 15 min during exercise (3 ml/kg). MVC was measured as a single-leg isometric extension (70° knee flexion) before (pre) and after (post) exercise. Rating of perceived exertion (RPE) was measured throughout. Total work accumulated (KJ) during PT was greater (p < .05) in CE+ (233 ± 34) than PLA (205 ± 52) but not in CE (225 ± 39) vs. PLA. MVC (N) declined (p < .001) from pre to post in PLA (988 ± 213 to 851 ± 191) and CE (970 ± 172 to 870 ± 163) but not in CE+ (953 ± 171 to 904 ± 208). At Minutes 60, 90, 105, and 120 RPE was lower in CE+ (14 ± 2, 14 ± 2, 12 ± 1, 15 ± 2) than in PLA (14 ± 2, 15 ± 2, 14 ± 2, 16 ± 2; p < .001). CE+ resulted in greater total work than PLA. CE+, but not PLA or CE, attenuated pre-to-post MVC declines. Performance increases during CE+ may have been influenced by lower RPE and greater preservation of leg strength during exercise in part as a result of the hypothesized effects of CE+ on the central nervous system and skeletal muscle.