Glycerol: The Practical Answer To Dehydration In The Field Of Sports

Published: 18th June 2009
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In a highly competitive sport event, it is not only the physical training and mental preparation that matters, water intake is also important. Ever wondered why sports drinks are so popular these days? Athletes have to replenish the lost fluids from physical exertions during the game. However, sometimes water is not enough to replenish the water and nutrients they have lost through sweat and urination.

It was determined that as much as three liters of fluid an hour is lost especially when physical exertion is carried out in a hot and humid atmosphere. Such a loss in body fluids can effectively reduce athletic and endurance performance. And although athletes are given access to water to address dehydration, most of them are still unable to make up for the lost water and nutrients.

It is therefore important that any method that could help athletes hyper hydrate or retain extra fluid in their bodies is a significant step in enhancing performance especially in extended endurance sport events. Drinking water is a good way, the most convenient as well, to enhance water in the body. However, it has been established that the kidneys can eliminate most of the water volume in an hour.

But how does glycerol fit in all this?

Glycerol, also known as glycerin, glycerine and 1,2,3-propanetriol, is a trihydric alcohol which is produced as a byproduct of saponification and transesterification. Saponification is the process of making soap meanwhile biodiesel is produced by transesterification.

Glycerol is used in foods and beverages, as a solvent for extracts, flavoring agents and food colors, sweetener and sugar substitute, as a moistening agents for cookies and other baked goods, and even as a preservative. It is used in the manufacture of cosmetics, soaps, toothpaste, liqueurs, candy, inks, antifreeze mixtures, and lubricants. It also a vital ingredient in the manufacture of medicines, antibiotics, tinctures, and anesthetics.

In sports research, it was concluded that combining glycerol to water can extend hyperhydration for up to four hours. When glycerol is consumed and entered into the body, this substance is easily absorbed and the fluid retention capacity of the body in the blood and tissues is enhanced. According to a study by Freund, the dilution or concentration of the fluids is held and controlled by the body so that water added with glycerol is not eliminated until the excess glycerol is either excreted by thy kidneys or digested by the body. Though this is a very interesting piece of scientific information, there have only been relatively few studies on the beneficial effects of glycerol on enhancing endurance capacity of athletes.

The first study was able to document the consumption of a glycerol solution and it has increased the water volume of the body. The increase is largely dependent on the amount and time of the ingestion. Another study looked at the glycerol hyperhydration and its impact on altered sweating, body temperature regulation, and cardiovascular behavior in a hot and humid atmosphere.

Although these studies are very supportive of hyperhydration by adding glycerol into the liquid intake of an athlete, there are also studies which show that this substance does not have any good effects on athletic performance. The inconsistencies in these findings can be attributed to the dissimilarities in the methodologies used in the studies.

The International Olympic Committee prohibits the use of substances that enhances the flow of urine or diuretics because of its potential to boost fluid loss in the body. However, on September 1997, the US Olympic Committee lifted the ban on glycerol.

In sports, glycerol has the potential to help athletes retain water and other nutrients in the body therefore boosting their endurance, and as a result, step up their game to the next level of athletic performance.

Jo is a content writer for 'ReAgent Chemical Services Ltd' (, a reputable UK based chemical manufacturer that makes, carries and supplies a vast selection of high quality chemicals. If your company is looking for superior quality chemical product such as Glycerol or has other industrial chemical requirements then check out ReAgent Chemical Services Ltd.

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