When To Replace Electrolytes 

When To Replace Electrolytes

4 Tips For Knowing When To Replace Electrolytes When Working Out

Electrolytes are minerals that break into small, electrically-charged particles called ions when they dissolve in water. Found in blood and cells, electrolytes are essential to physical activity because they regulate bodily fluids. When water goes out of the body, electrolytes do as well. And when the body is losing lots of water (as with exercise and sweating), it makes sense that you may need to replace electrolytes.

The 4 Common electrolytes are Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, and Magnesium. Electrolytes are essential for life and have many roles, such as: Regulating nerve and muscle function, regulating blood pressure, maintaining fluid balance inside and outside of our cells and regulating pH.

When you keep your electrolytes at the right level, you ensure that your body can absorb and use whatever fluids you take in, your vital organs function properly and you get the most out of each workout.

We know that when we work out, it’s important to stay hydrated. Ordinary water, of course, is often the classic thirst-quenching choice. However, knowing when we need something more than water can be confusing. The stores are always lined up with sport drink options and it can be hard to know what you should be drinking if you are exercising!

Knowing When To Replace Electrolytes

  1. You are a heavy sweater. Even given the same workout, people sweat differently. An obvious sign that you’re a heavy sweater is if, after a hard workout, your skin feels chalky or gritty. You may even see a thin layer of white, indicating salt coming through your pores. Or if you visibly see that you sweat more then some of the fellow exercisers in the same workout.
  2. Weather conditions. The hotter and more humid the conditions in which you’re exercising are, the higher the likelihood is that you need electrolytes. Pay attention to the temperature and humidity when you exercise.
  3. You’re exercising for more than an hour. As long as you start your workout well hydrated and well fueled with consistent smart eating, you can usually skip the sports drink. Unfortunately, almost no one starts a workout well hydrated. If exercising for more than an hour, especially if it’s at a higher intensity, then a sports drink is likely a good choice. The longer and harder you exercise and the more heavily you sweat, the greater the need for a sports drink to help replace these lost micronutrients.
  4. Know your own body. Listen to your body and the signals it sends you is incredibly important to ensure you stay hydrated.  Fatigue, muscle cramps, nausea, and headaches can all point to signs of trouble.

Other Considerations

Its important watch out for drinks with too much sugar, which can add unnecessary calories. Look for drinks that have four to nine percent carbohydrates per eight ounces, and 120 to 170 mg sodium.

Also, it’s important to think of food options to replace electrolytes. Salty foods are a good option since the body loses sodium in higher amounts than it loses other electrolytes. A handful of nuts, peanut butter on toast or olives are options. Chocolate milk, leafy greens, tomatoes, celery, bananas, yogurt, and beans can help restore the rest of the electrolyte team.

The Takeaway

Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electric charge. They are essential to life and regulate our hydration, nerve and muscle function and blood pressure. Sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium are all electrolytes. When you sweat, you lose electrolytes.

Low levels of electrolytes can cause muscle cramping or weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, dizziness, and confusion. It is also important to pay attention to the conditions you are working out in and your own bodies signals.

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