You’ve probably heard about the benefits of Electrolytes when you’re exercising, or if you’re dehydrated, but do you know the full extent of the role they play in your overall wellbeing?
Your body’s daily supply of electrolytes can greatly impact your performance in the gym, your energy levels and your recovery, so it’s important to replenish those stores as necessary.
Electrolytes are minerals that we take into our body that have an electric charge when dissolved in water.
These minerals are:
Without them, your muscles wouldn’t be able to contract or allow you to move.
Electrolytes regulate nerve and muscle contractions, move nutrients into your cells, keep you hydrated and balance your bodies pH levels. Simply put, electrolytes help to replace mineral losses and are generally received through the foods and drinks that we consume on a daily basis.
What Happens to our Electrolytes When We Train?
When we work out, our bodies begin to heat up, which releases electrolytes and salts into our sweat glands. This salty mix gets pushed out onto our skin which is what makes us damp. When this sweat evaporates it pulls the heat off your body and helps you to cool down.
If you lose too many electrolytes, your muscles and nerves won’t work properly and you won’t be able to perform at your best. Therefore, electrolytes are particularly important for prolonged exercise activities as this is when we lose the most sweat. This can cause many issues with one in particular being cramping, which can be quite common in athletes and recreational exercisers.
How to replenish your electrolytes
Signs of low electrolyte levels can include fatigue, nausea, blood pressure changes, muscle cramps and low energy. It is easy to focus on your daily energy requirements; protein, fat and carbohydrate, yet often electrolytes and hydration are overlooked.
Many people believe that the only way you can receive efficient intake of electrolytes is through sports drinks and supplements. This is not the case, as there are many whole-food alternatives that provide adequate amounts of electrolytes. Often electrolyte drinks are loaded with sugar, additives and food colourings. While these electrolyte drinks may benefit extreme athletes, there are healthier, whole-food options that the everyday gym-goer should consider. Good sources of electrolytes are found in milk, yoghurt, bananas, salt, coconut water, butternut squash, nuts, seeds and pickled foods.
- Electrolytes are minerals in the body that promote muscle function and movement
- Electrolyte stores can be depleted via sweating, and deficiency in electrolytes can impact energy levels and recovery
- Although certain sports drinks and supplements can assist in replenishing electrolytes, healthier, more nutritious options include milk, yoghurt, bananas, salt, coconut water, butternut squash, nuts, seeds and pickled foods.