I have been spending quite a bit of time in the cold recently as part of my ski racing quest, and one of the things I have noticed is that thirst and hydration don’t seem to work the same way as when in a warm environment. If you’ve ever felt like you’re less thirsty in the winter, it’s not because you require less hydration. In fact, the cold causes the normal human thirst response to become dysfunctional — weird but true. I found this study which talked about it, confirming my own experience.
If you ski or do any sort of snow activity during the winter months, there’s often no water bottle to grab during these activities. Bringing one would not be practical and the water would eventually freeze. Despite exerting myself on the slopes, I tend to not feel thirsty — I don’t have the urge to sip water in the same way I do at the gym, sauna, or even at home.
The other odd thing I notice is that, along with a reduced desire to drink water, there is an increased desire to pee because of the cold. Originally, I thought this was due to having a too-tight belt from all the clothing I was wearing. But no; weird thing #2 is something called Cold-Induced Diuresis, meaning more urine is produced when we are cold, and all that urine has to come from somewhere, so it is dehydrating us and pulling sodium from our bodies at the same time we don’t feel thirst. Apparently, this is a problem not only for skiers, but also for military. Who knew?
Then we have the matter of sweating. If one is shoveling snow, skiing, hiking, or doing any sort of activity that exerts energy, there will be perspiration involved, which will mean losing electrolytes and water. But again, because it is cold, we quite possibly don’t realize this is happening.
The bottom line is that cold weather requires a more than expected degree of attention to electrolytes and hydration. Just drinking a lot of water is not going to do it because it will be stripping out electrolytes. The solution is water with the proper electrolyte mix. My go-to is LMNT. I will have 20 oz of water with LMNT Citrus Salt before I head to the mountain, and another 20 oz when I am down, and then amazingly another 20oz about an hour after that as my thirst response returns to normal. After that, my body feels properly hydrated and my body is able to better recover after my day’s activities. So, even though it’s wintertime and you may not feel thirsty or dehydrated, chances are you are. Drink up and make sure to include electrolytes!
LMNT has given us a special offer just for our readers. Receive a free 8-serving pack with any purchase here. My favorite flavor is the Citrus Salt but any of the Chocolate flavors are delicious as a hot winter beverage.
If GCS still has a ski club I hope they see this, Dave!
Ah yes, night skiing on icy Swain Mountain. I remember it well. Thanks for checking in!
Looking especially refreshed and handsome David! Good on YOU!!!
Thank you Bella! Sending you much Aloha.
I have been paying more attention to hydration and electrolytes after listening to the podcast and reading articles like this.