When you think of NASCAR racing, most of the time you probably aren't thinking about how hot the inside of the cars get during a race. Temps inside the car are typically 30 to 40 degrees hotter than the outside temperature. Couple that with a hot day and drivers like Aric Almirola could be racing in a what's essentially 140 degree oven. With that level of heat comes what you would expect: a lot of sweat loss. We caught up with Aric to hear all about how he hydrates and preps for his typical 7 lbs of sweat loss as well as his favorite way to hydrate. Here's what he had to say.
What is your daily hydration routine on a non-race day?
On a non-race day, my first thing is 16oz of water as soon as I wake up. Then one cup of coffee. Only one cup of black coffee. After that, the rest is water and some electrolytes throughout the day. My goal is three liters of water per day. I think that is super important to stay on top of my hydration.
You mentioned that you can lose up to 7lbs of water during a race due to the heat inside the car. That is significant!
Two questions: How do you prep for a fluid loss like that and how do you recuperate your body from that kind of loss post-race?
The only way to prep for 7lbs of sweat loss during a race is to prepare all week. Monday and Tuesday usually involved me trying to consume enough fluids to get back to my normal weight. Then the rest of the week if maintaining my hydration intake and making sure I’m not dehydrated by Sunday. If I‘m behind on race day it makes it really difficult to overcome. On race day morning I try to up my fluids. I try to get down one liter of straight water in the morning followed by one liter of water with an electrolyte mix in the afternoon.
Monday is a day that I have to be very diligent about getting water down. Monday is the most important day to get my body back right.
Is it possible to drink during the race or do you essentially pause all fluid intake while driving?
Drinking during the race is one of the biggest parts about not finishing the race dehydrated. I have bike bottles that are insulated that are crammed full of ice and an electrolyte mix in them. I drink those throughout the race. When we slow down during the caution laps I’m able to get the whole 24oz bottle down. On a pit stop, I actually hand out the empty bottle and they’ll hand me a fresh one that’s cold. Even though they’re insulated they do get warm with the car being 130 to 140 degrees inside.
Are you a straight water guy or do you like to mix things up when it comes to hydration?
I do a little of both, but mostly straight water. I do use a lot of electrolytes mixes, though. I’ve been told and I believe that if you only drink water you can get behind because you dilute the electrolytes that are in your system.
How do you feel hydration impacts your response times when driving?
Hydration has a big impact when it comes to reaction times and focus inside the car. When you’re dehydrated you’re not as sharp and energetic. Dehydration is a serious issue for us and cramping. We’re moving our arms and legs and our muscles are tense the entire time due to the G-forces going around the corners. A lot of muscles in our bodies are constantly contracted. If you’re dehydrated and you get a cramp it’s next to impossible to focus and still perform with all of the precise movements in the race car when you’re cramping up.