What are Electrolytes, and Do I Need Sports Drinks to Replenish Them?

Man Drinking Sports Drink


You’ve in all probability sipped on an electrolyte-replenishing sports drink throughout a exercise at one level or one other. However have you ever ever stopped to consider what electrolytes even are, or whether or not you really have to supplement with them in any respect? Right here, we break it down for you.

Put merely, electrolytes are salts -including desk salt- that conduct electrical energy in water by separating into constructive and damaging costs. However opposite to what many individuals are likely to suppose, that doesn’t imply electrolytes are synonymous with sodium.

“Sports activities dietitians discuss electrolytes and sodium, then athletes and coaches use these phrases interchangeably—however that’s not really right,” Lauren Antonucci, sports activities dietitian and proprietor of Nutrition Energy in New York Metropolis, explains. “Sodium is simply one of many electrolytes. There are others which are liable for various things—most individuals have heard of potassium, magnesium, and calcium, for instance.”

Every electrolyte serves a distinct operate within the physique, holding processes like nerve conduction, muscle contraction, and fluid stability operating easily, in line with Antonucci. All of them are vital, however in actuality, most athletes solely want to fret about sodium whereas figuring out, as a result of it’s the principle electrolyte we lose by sweat. (For those who’ve ever seen white, chalky residue in your pores and skin after sweating, you’ve seen it occur.)

“The quantity of different electrolytes misplaced in sweat is fairly small, and if an athlete is consuming sufficient of them throughout their regular day, the one factor they’d want to consider can be sodium,” Antonucci says. However so far as dietary supplements go, her suggestion is to replenish solely what you might want to when you work out.

At the start, which means consuming water. Then, for those who begin to break a sweat, cramp up, get dizzy, or really feel fatigued, add some salt. Electrolyte tabs, salt tablets, salt packets, and ready-to-drink sports activities drinks are strong choices if you might want to exchange electrolytes throughout a mean exercise. However for those who go for a sports activities drink, be cautious of the calorie rely.

Throughout a 45- to 60-minute exercise that doesn’t depart you sweating profusely or utterly exhausted, you in all probability don’t want additional energy, Antonucci says. She suggests discovering a drink with about 10 energy or much less to interchange water and salt throughout these exercises.

In case your exercise is tremendous intense, consists of severe endurance coaching, otherwise you’re doing double classes, chances are you’ll wish to attain for a sports activities drink with some additional carbs (sugar), or perhaps a little little bit of caffeine. In case your sports activities drink has any greater than these easy components, you’re in all probability going overboard—and paying extra.

“Something promising you an excessive amount of, I’d be leery of,” Antonucci provides. “And it shouldn’t be costly. Water and salt are fairly low-cost, in order that’s the fundamental price of a sports activities drink. If there’s one which’s dearer and guarantees the moon and the celebs, depart it on the shelf.”

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