Sweaty gym sessions weakening your bones?
Sweat is the body’s way of keeping you cool when training hard but also means you lose important minerals like sodium, potassium and the critical bone-building mineral, calcium. New research by the Australian Institute of Sport in cyclists has shown calcium-rich foods pre-workout can help counteract the calcium lost through sweat. 1
“The pre-exercise calcium boost helped to counteract the loss of calcium in sweat and reduce the bone breakdown that would otherwise occur. This may help to preserve bone mineral density (BMD) in cyclists and reduce their risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis later in life,” explains AIS Head of Sports Nutrition, Professor Louise Burke.
Many endurance athletes, including cyclists, are at risk of poor bone health due to low bone mineral density, which can be a problem with a lack of weight-bearing exercise, calorie restriction when trying to stay very lean or undertaking a high volume of exercise.
“But recently, we’ve become interested in the idea that the loss of calcium through sweat could also play a role in weakening athletes’ bones. The loss of sweat calcium causes a drop in blood calcium levels, which sends a signal to the bones to stabilise the situation by releasing a little calcium. In the case of cyclists, daily training may favour bone breakdown, which unlike ‘high impact’ exercise like running, doesn’t benefit from the reverse stimulus of bone building.”
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1 Haakonssen EC, Ross ML, Knight EJ, Cato LE, Nana A, Wluka AE, Cicuttini FM, Wang BH, Jenkins DG, Burke LM. (2015) The effects of a calcium-rich pre-exercise meal on biomarkers of calcium homeostasis in competitive female cyclists: a randomized crossover trial. PLOS ONE doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0123302.