Waterlogged: The Serious Problem of Overhydration in Endurance Sports
by Tim Noakes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you're an endurance athlete who has ever been told that you should drink before you're thirsty or that you should drink sports drinks with electrolytes to prevent your blood sodium levels from dropping too low, you should read this book. Noakes meticulously outlines the science that proves that a lot of the conventional advice given about hydration is at best useless, and at worst, potentially fatal.
It's also a fascinating look at how the combination of faulty assumptions and commercial interests can skew the interpretation of scientific research. It was actually a bit shocking to me how little we really know about the causes of heatstroke or exercise-induced cramping. Because these conditions are difficult to produce in controlled laboratory conditions, much of what we know has been based on anecdotes or on experiments with less than ideal design.
It's also a very readable book, despite the quantity of detailed scientific data that Noakes discusses. (It might help that I've got a background in chemistry, and went in knowing what "millimolar" means.) I did find that the book got a bit repetitive towards the end - Noakes rightly takes seriously his obligation as a scientist to address all alternative hypotheses and interpretations of the data, but if you're just someone who wants to know how much you should drink while running, you've probably absorbed everything you really need to know by halfway through the book. View all my reviews