Summer is here, which means training and heat acclimatization can increase sweat rate by 10 to 20 percent! Minerals (also called electrolytes) are chemical elements required as an essential nutrient by our bodies to perform functions necessary to live. When we sweat, we lose water and electrolytes and even those of us who perform on the highest athletic level can have our performances impacted negatively, not to mention our psyche!
Electrolytes are responsible for maintaining the fluid balance in your body, regulating blood pressure, and keeping muscles and nerves functioning normal.
In this guide, you’ll learn more about some important forms of electrolytes, as well as how taking supplements like electrolyte powder can provide immediate workout performance benefits.
Electrolytes in a Nutshell
There are a few specific electrolytes that are by far the biggest and most important: sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. Your body needs these electrolytes not only to maintain your health, but also to keep up with times of higher physical workloads, such as workouts or competitions, as well.
Electrolytes are minerals that break down into ions when they are dissolved in water. These ions have an electrical charge that affect a variety of body functions, like keeping your heart healthy, your bladder properly regulated, your muscles pumping properly, your energy levels high, and your brain functioning normally. Electrolytes and drinking water go hand in hand, so from this point on make sure you always get enough of both. And, most people do not know that sodium for example can only be absorbed in combination with sugar. So while no one needs sugary electrolyte drinks it also wouldn’t make sense to have electrolytes with a sugar free drink.
Everyone needs to replenish the minerals lost through sweat. Activities like intense workout routines or full body workouts will require extra replenishment of those electrolytes in your body but the exact amount depends on a few factors:
- Your body weight
- Your fitness level
- Your fitness intensity
- How long you work out
- Location and climate
- Individual sweat levels (both naturally and during exercise)
Dehydration and the loss of large amounts of electrolytes carries a number of less than ideal effects on your body. Sweating while working out is one of the fastest ways you lose both water and electrolytes. Dehydration will eventually start making your muscles feel heavy or crampy and getting dizzy, nauseous, or dealing with headaches is not uncommon either.
The more electrolytes you lose, the more susceptible to muscle cramping and spasms you are, even if you aren’t doing high-intensity workouts. Research shows that in the long term, low electrolyte levels in your body can cause kidney failure, seizures, and irregular heart rhythms, which are conditions often serious enough to be fatal.
Hydrating with electrolytes properly before, during and after exercises or competitions is absolutely crucial to be able to perform at your personal best.
Electrolytes and Working Out
A big reason why electrolytes are crucial to maintain before exercising is because it directly affects how well your body absorbs the fluids you take in, as well as makes sure your organs are performing properly when you do full body workouts.
The Sports Institute of the University of Edinburgh found in research that being 2% dehydrated can lead up to a 10% performance decrease. Given how little performance difference often decides over winning and losing that is a massive number.
Other research into athletes, electrolytes, and personal fitness have found several conclusions that are important to keep in mind when working out:
- Generally, men tend to sweat more than women do per gland
- Larger athletes need more sodium, since they sweat more
- The more vigorous and intense the workout, the more electrolytes lost
When you exercise and sweat, the electrolyte you lose the most is sodium. Sweat and urine are the two biggest ways sodium escapes from your body, so your goal should always be to maintain healthy levels of electrolytes when you exercise. A good rule of thumb is to do a quick weigh in both before and after a workout. Then, make sure to consume 16 to 24 ounces of water for every pound you lost through sweat.
How Do I Get Electrolytes Back?
Despite all the points we’ve made so far on electrolyte deficiencies, getting a good supply of them through what you drink and eat is easier than you think. Foods That Restore Electrolytes
As with most products for anything there are more and less well-known options out in the market space. But electrolyte drinks like Gatorade, Powerade, Pedialyte, or Vitaminwater tend to contain artificial ingredients, too much sugar, and some only minuscule amounts of electrolytes.
When looking for the right electrolyte drink it’s important to keep in mind to replenish all four major minerals. A common misconception is that one only needs salt or sodium. Making sure that your intake of magnesium, potassium, and calcium balance your intake of sodium is important. A healthy intake of all four help you be at your best, prevents the symptoms mentioned above, and keeps your performance up while working out. In short, always read the label before buying electrolyte drinks.
Electrolyte powder is another way you can replenish electrolytes, and is steadily growing in popularity and effectiveness. Electrolyte powders come in two forms, either a fine, flavored powder or a dissolvable tablet. Either one you choose needs to be activated and mixed with water. But much like electrolyte drinks, some electrolyte powder manufacturers go overboard with added sugars in order to make it taste better.
At ATAQ, our Electrolyte Hydration Mix only uses a little bit of cane sugar for taste and help absorption, with our other non-GMO ingredients doing the healthy-work. Our mix is made from high purity minerals, is easy to digest, can reduce fatigue and muscle weakness, and has a subtle flavor that you can drink for hours. And the addition of natural betaine truly differentiates us from many other options as betaine helps to actively metabolize carbs and proteins. So while you rehydrate and replenish your lost minerals you also help to make best use of the fuel you consumed for energy. Double whammy!
The less sugary options with more balanced electrolyte blends are not only more beneficial for your performance but also healthier for your body. The secret to your next personal record could be proper electrolyte intake!