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Post-exercise rehydration in man: effects of electrolyte addition to ingested fluids

Abstract

This study examined the effects on water balance of adding electrolytes to fluids ingested after exercise-induced dehydration. Eight healthy male volunteers were dehydrated by approximately 2% of body mass by intermittent cycle exercise. Over a 30-min period after exercise, subjects ingested one of the four test drinks of a volume equivalent to their body mass loss. Drink A was a 90 mmol·l−1 glucose solution; drink B contained 60 mmol·l−1 sodium chloride; drink C contained 25 mmol·l−1 potassium chloride; drink D contained 90 mmol·l−1 glucose, 60 mmol·l−1 sodium chloride and 25 mmol·l−1 potassium chloride. Treatment order was randomised. Blood and urine samples were obtained at intervals throughout the study; subjects remained fasted throughout. Plasma volume increased to the same extent after the rehydration period on all treatments. Serum electrolyte (Na+, K+ and Cl) concentrations fell initially after rehydration before returning to their pre-exercise levels. Cumulative urine output was greater after ingestion of drink A than after ingestion of any of the other drinks. On the morning following the trial, subjects were in greater net negative fluid balance [mean (SEM);P<0.02] on trial A [745 (130) ml] than on trials B [405 (51) ml], C [467 (87) ml] or D [407 (34) ml]. There were no differences at any time between the three electrolyte-containing solutions in urine output or net fluid balance. One hour after the end of the rehydration period, urine osmolality had fallen, with a significant treatment effect (P=0.016); urine osmolality was lowest after ingestion of drink A. On the morning after the test, subjects were in greater net negative sodium balance (P<0.001) after trials A and C than after trials B and D. Negative potassium balance was greater (P<0.001) after trials A and B than after C and D. Chloride balance was positive after drink D and a smaller negative balance (P<0.001) was observed after drink B than after A and C. These results suggest that although the measured blood parameters were similar for all trials, better whole body water and electrolyte balance resulted from the ingestion of electrolyte-containing drinks. There appeared, however, to be no additive effect of including both sodium and potassium under the conditions of this experiment.

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Correspondence to R. J. Maughan.

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Maughan, R.J., Owen, J.H., Shirreffs, S.M. et al. Post-exercise rehydration in man: effects of electrolyte addition to ingested fluids. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 69, 209–215 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01094790

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Key words

  • Dehydration
  • Rehydration
  • Fluid balance
  • Exercise
  • Electrolyte balance