Glycerol use in hyperhydration and rehydration: scientific update.Med Sport Sci. 2012; 59:104-112.MS
Glycerol ingestion creates an osmotic drive that enhances fluid retention. The major practical applications for athletes are to either (i) hyperhydrate before exercise so that they have more fluid to be lost as sweat during subsequent performance, thereby delaying the progression of dehydration from becoming physiologically significant, or (ii) improve both the rate of rehydration and total fluid retention following exercise. Recently we showed that rehydration may be improved further by combining glycerol with intravenous fluids. Improvements in endurance time, time trial performance and total power and work output have been seen during exercise following glycerol-induced hyperhydration or rehydration. Another recent trial showed that the increased body weight associated with the extra fluid does not inadvertently affect running economy. Concerns that the haemodilution associated with the fluid retention in the vascular space may be sufficient to mask illegal doping practices by athletes led the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to add glycerol to its list of prohibited substances in 2010. Recent evidence suggests that doses of > 0.032 ± 0.010 g/kg lean body mass (much lower than those required for rehydration) will result in urinary excretion that may be detectable, so athletes under the WADA jurisdiction should be cautious to limit their inadvertent glycerol intake.