WHY ELECTROLYTES MATTER

It’s summer and you’re a little hotter, so hot, and a little sweatier. And it goes without saying that you have an excellent adherence to exercising consistently. Therefore, you need to know a little about electrolytes.

WHAT ARE ELECTROLYTES

In short, electrolytes are for fluid balance. Electrolytes (electro = electricity, lytes = soluble) regulate the fluid volume of cells and help maintain water balance by pulling water into and out of blood and cells, a process called osmosis (nerd!).

These are the major electrolytes in the body:

  • Sodium (Na+) – Has the greatest effect on fluid balance.
  • Potassium (K+)
  • Calcium (Ca2+)
  • Magnesium (Mg2+)
  • Chloride (Cl-)
  • Phosphate (PO43-)

Those minerals play a big part in our overall health, but I’ll geek out on that with you later.

WHY ELECTROLYTES

  • Ensure proper functioning of cells, tissues, and organs.
  • Essential for transmission of nerve impulses and muscle contractions.
  • A shortage can lead to confusion, seizures, muscle spasms, convulsions, fatigue, insomnia, impaired growth, poor circulation, dry hair or hair loss, lower rates of steroid synthesis, diminished immune function, shortness of breath, bruising, muscle loss, bone loss, and muscle cramps (oh, is that all?). 
  • Without electrolytes, cells could swell and burst from too much fluid or shrink from dehydration.

Good to Know

  • Excessive sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, certain medical conditions, or medication use can cause electrolyte imbalances.
  • Saliva contains electrolytes.
  • Alcohol affects electrolyte concentration, especially potassium.
  • Water is attracted to sodium and moves toward it.
  • Kidneys regulate electrolyte balance.

NOTES ON FLUID TAKE

When Exercising

I’ll state the most basic rule to follow: we need more water during exercise. 

I highly recommend you sip water or a sports drink slowly throughout your workouts, factoring in the intensity, temperature, and water loss from sweat. This will help your muscles get oxygen and nutrients and remove heat and waste faster.

Not Too Much, Not Too Little

  • With too little fluid intake, there is a greater concentration of electrolytes outside the cell, drawing water outside of the cell and shrinking them (dehydration).
  • With rapid water intake, there is a greater concentration of electrolytes inside the cell, drawing in more water and causing swelling. Avoid this by drinking fluids more slowly to restore fluid balance (which is why I already said to sip throughout the workout, do you hear me?).
  • Tip: Weight yourself before and after a workout. Most of the weight loss will be from water. Drink 20-24 ounces for every pound lost, and another reminder to do it slowly.

HOW TO GET ELECTROLYTES

SUPPLEMENTS I LIKE

  1. Thorne Catalyte https://s.thorne.com/zbQOF  $16 for 30 scoops. (reminder: you get 20% off)
  2. Liquid I.V. https://amzn.to/3PS6Ub0 
  3. LMNT (“element”) https://amzn.to/3CYyufc

If you want to know more about electrolytes, ask me. I have more in-depth information, especially as it relates to high performance. Until then, stay hydrated and in fluid balance.

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