Endurance athletes and kidney stones

  • Creator
  • #46293

    I am a lifelong athlete (late 40s) who has suffered from kidney stones (calcium oxalate) on multiple occasions. My most recent bout was so unpleasant that I am looking to do anything to avoid forming more.

    As I age and transition to more endurance based activities I worry that I am setting myself up for disaster.

    My doctor said to do 4 things; water, water, water, calcium. I did some reading on oxalates and it appears all of the foods that are extremely high are the typical antioxidants everyone recommends, dark green leafy veg, nuts, beets, carrots…

    Are any other athletes battling this scourge and if so, what is your dietary and hydration strategy?


Posted In: Nutrition

  • Participant
    rich.b on #46317

    Was literally floored one day during summer 2019 with that. There were likely three contributing factors, of which the biggest culprit was probably hydration – or lack thereof. The other two factors are always there, age (57 now, 56 then) and lots of all of the vegetables that are considered usual culprits as you list: spinach, red beets, carrots (usually all of these every day). But it hit me during a hotter period coinciding with longer runs, for which up to maybe 3 hours I just don’t like carrying anything. Which points at hydration as being the main factor. So far a one-time deal.

    Dane on #46351

    After having to have an oxalate stone surgically removed a year ago because it was too big to pass, my urologist had me start drinking some lemon juice in the morning. I just buy those big bottles of it and put a tablespoon or two in a glass of water in the morning (avoid drinking it straight unless you have a vendetta against the enamel on your teeth). As I understand it the citrate in the juice should preferentially bind to calcium, forming calcium citrate which is excreted before the calcium has a chance to bind to oxalate and form a stone. The biggest thing though is just keeping myself from getting dehydrated. I’m one of those people that will go on long runs/hikes and bring half a liter of water so I just try to make sure I drink a lot of water before/after a training session.

    Rebecca Dent on #46407

    Hi BF,

    As both Rich and Dane have mentioned above, hydration or dehydration is a risk factor for causing kidney stones. A high salt intake from your diet can also contribute to causing kidney stones. Oxalates from the foods you mentioned and also too much vitamin C (from supplemental form) can also contribute to your type of kidney stone. A lower oxalate and higher calcium (from food) diet, along with lower salt intake if high and increasing hydration (aiming for 2l of volume passed per day via urine) is recommended to further prevent kidney stones forming. You still need to keep fruit and veg intake up just choose them wisely as not to be high in oxalates. Potentially reducing your intake or red meat/meats may also benefit. But this all depends on your own starting point and how much you are already eating. Hope this is helpful.

    If you are concerned then I would advize you to book an appointment with a local dietitian who can take a full analysis of your diet and bloods and any medication and then provide the best dietary approach for you for prevention.

    Rebecca – Uphill Athlete Dietitian.

    jonmurua on #56056

    I’ve tested different techniques to avoid having kidney stones, and I believe I have found the formula that works for me (I used to have 2/3 attacks per year):

    It is particularly difficult to control in 2-3 day long alpine outings in the summer in the alps because of:
    – Limited access to water
    – Heat
    – Sweat
    – Food high in salt (cheese, salami)
    – Food high in oxalate (nuts, chocolate)

    The formula that worked for me:
    – Drink plenty of water when I’m in the city (fresh sparkling water helps to drink more)
    – Drink enough milk for the calcium (coffee with milk, bowls of cereals…)
    – Do not eat food with high oxalate content, never! (spinach, chocolate, soya, some type of nuts like almonds, cashew nuts or peanuts)
    – Limit significantly the food with medium content of oxalate, and if for whatever reason I eat more than normally in a day, complement with extra drinking water (tomato paste, chips/crisps…)
    – Eat food with low oxalate content without paying attention (fruits, vegetables, sunflower seeds…)
    – I cut on salt completely!
    – I don’t go to restaurants because the food tends to be very salty

    For the mountain days, this is the approach I take:
    – Drink plenty of water before I leave home to start driving
    – Drink plenty of water before I start the approach
    – Carry 3l of water mixed with isotonic powder
    – Eat white chocolate
    – Eat sunflower and pumpking seeds (I make my own energy bars to make sure they don’t contain soya, cacao, almonds or peanuts which are quite common in commercial energy bars)
    – Do not eat anything salty (cheese, salami…)
    – I bring light sandwitches and bread
    – Breakfast with plenty of milk (I carry powder milk for bivouacs)
    – When I’m back from the mountains, I drink about 2 liters of water in 2 hours (I’ve read that drinking more than 1l/h is pointless as the body does not absorb the liquid)
    – When I’m back from the mountains, I drink a mix of water with a special magnesium my doctor recommended. I drink this 3 times, in the 3 days after the mountains.
    – I sometimes carry the magnesium with me to drink in the night in the mountains.

    I hope this helps.

Viewing 4 replies - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.