Precision Fuel & Hydration, leaders in sports nutrition and experts in hydration and fuelling strategies for elite athletes, are undergoing an in-depth study set to determine whether exercise-induced sweat at three different intensities (low, moderate, high) is comparable in sodium concentration to pilocarpine-induced sweat (‘at-rest’ sweating).
Precision Fuel & Hydration currently induce a sweat sample using a method called pilocarpine iontophoresis – so the sweat is not triggered as a result of exercise but instead, the sweat glands are electrically stimulated. They then use their analyser to measure the sodium concentration. Other methods of sweat testing, such as patch testing, involve an athlete getting sweaty, which interrupts training and can reduce the accuracy of the data.
In a nutshell, with this research, the team are hoping to ultimately validate their method of sweat testing, to strengthen their stance that the ‘at-rest’ sweat test is a robust measurement of sweat sodium concentration and applicable to athletes trying to mitigate electrolyte losses from exercise-induced sweating.
The study is taking place at Precision Fuel & Hydration HQ in Christchurch, Dorset, across a sample of ten elite level triathletes, both males and females of different age groups.
On a participants’ first visit, the Wattbike Atom is used to conduct a ramp test in order to determine a person’s Functional Threshold Power (FTP), which represents an individual’s ability to sustain the highest possible power output over 45-60 minutes.
Thanks to the in-built tests, in this case the max ramp test and the ability to pre-programme starting power and watt increments on the Wattbike (in this case, 25W every 60 seconds), participants can simply focus on the task at hand, turning their legs and not worrying about holding an average power each minute. This also allows the researchers to oversee the test instead of manually adjusting the resistance and prompt a cadence change.
The most important feature of the Wattbike Atom for this study has been the Ergo Mode, a feature that automatically adjusts the resistance to match the target wattage independent of the leg speed.
Abby Coleman, Senior Sports Scientists, Precision Fuel & Hydration, explains: “The ability to pre-set the power for the three different exercise trials (50%, 75% and 100% FTP), takes the difficulty of holding power out of the participants hands. In this respect, as long as they’re turning their legs, the power is being held thanks to the Wattbikes adjusting the resistance for them… the dream!”
The Ergo Mode has also played an integral role in the continuous 20-minute exercise trials, particularly in the high intensity trial.
“The real-ride feel that the Wattbike offers is something that all the athletes have repeatedly commented on positively.” Coleman continues. “The tests we’re putting them through are pushing them to levels of discomfort, 20-minutes at FTP in 25-degree heat is no mean feat, so having them experience a real-ride feel to give them a bit of comfort is a win.”
The team at Precision Fuel & Hydration chose to work with Wattbike over other indoor bike options due to its multi-functional offering, for the requirements of this study in particular, the in-built tests and the Ergo Mode, but also how well these interact with the app.
“It was a no-brainer for us to work with Wattbike for this study.” Coleman adds. “Not only am I and the team all familiar with the benefits of the bike and trust its unmatched accuracy when it comes to testing data in real-time, but all of the athletes coming in know and respect the Wattbike. One participant actually has her own Wattbike Atom at home. This makes the whole testing process for the participant, which as I say is uncomfortable enough as it is, much less daunting.”
The study is currently ongoing, and although it is too early to draw robust conclusions, the trend shown by the results to date are as expected by the researchers. That as exercise intensity increases, the sodium concentration of exercise-induced sweat increases.
This marries up with participants having a greater sweat rate at higher intensities, which allows for less sodium reabsorption in the sweat gland.
“We won’t fully understand how well these results compare to pilocarpine-induced sweating (‘at-rest’ sweating) until we have run some further trials and analysis but it looks like the crossover occurs somewhere close to the moderately induced sweat.” Coleman concludes.
The study is currently in action and expected to be completed, with results and conclusions by the end of 2022. To find out more about the work that Precision Fuel & Hydration do or to follow the findings of this study, visitwww.precisionhydration.com