How many times have you come across an advertisement where a sweaty athlete, just after an intense workout session, grabs a bottle of an electrolyte beverage and takes a sip as if it’s the most refreshing thing they’ve ever consumed? I’m sure a few brands come to mind. Unfortunately, most people view the advertisements and commercials as entertaining rather than understanding the importance of hydration and electrolytes.
Hydration and electrolytes play a key role in our performance and recovery following athletic events or training. Our body loses water through sweat, urine, bowel movements, etc. So, we need to continue consuming fluids in order to maintain a balance. Proper hydration gives your body the fluid it requires to perform at an optimal level.
Apart from good, clean water, you need to focus on getting the required amount of nutrients and electrolytes. Your body demands nutrients and minerals to function properly. This goes hand-in-hand with your physical and mental performance. Now you might be asking what exactly are electrolytes and why are they so important? Let’s dive in and go a little deeper so that you have a better understanding of why hydration and electrolytes need to be one of your priorities.
What Are Electrolytes?
Electrolytes are among the most essential minerals your body requires to stay hydrated before, during, and after a workout session or athletic event. They dissolve in water and either carry a positive or negative charge. Electrolytes support various body functions like blood pressure, muscle contraction, and more. They are naturally found in fruits, vegetables, and beverages such as milk and coconut water.
Electrolytes help retain fluid during heavy bouts of exercise and help maintain energy levels by minimizing the effects of dehydration and fatigue. There are seven electrolytes found in the human body — sodium, magnesium, potassium, chloride, phosphate, calcium, and bicarbonate. Among these, sodium, potassium, and magnesium are considered to be the most important.
Sodium helps to balance fluid levels by helping the body retain fluid. It also helps to maintain proper hydration and is vital for the optimal functioning of muscles and nerves. We tend to consume sodium in our daily diet and hence generally don’t need a large amount of sodium through the use of supplements unless needed post-workout to replenish what was lost through sweat.
Potassium is found in the cells of muscles and even in the cells of the liver, bones, and red blood cells. Both potassium and sodium work together to maintain a proper balance of fluid in the body.
Magnesium is one of the most important minerals used to perform around 600 cellular reactions in the body. It helps to support a regular heartbeat, aid in making DNA, support and maintain healthy brain function, regulate muscle contractions, and perform many more functions.
Why Are Hydration and Electrolytes Important?
There are many reasons why hydration and electrolytes are important. Below outlines some of the main things you should understand and how proper hydration and electrolytes can help you.
1. Prevents Dehydration
Electrolyte drinks help in preventing dehydration by replacing the electrolytes lost through sweat and urine. To this day, one of the main reasons for consuming electrolyte drinks during or after workouts or athletic events is to avoid dehydration and to help replenish what was lost.
2. Supports Overall Health
Electrolytes help with supporting the overall health and functioning of the body and its processes. It supports brain and muscle functioning and helps to maintain the overall fluid balance in the body. By staying hydrated and consuming electrolytes, you can improve your workout performance (both strength and endurance training), enhance cognitive tasks, and heighten focus. If you’ve ever been slightly dehydrated, you may notice you have somewhat of brain fog and can’t think clearly. This is due to poor hydration and a loss of key nutrients and minerals.
3. Enhances Performance
Electrolytes play a vital role in the workout session, as athletes use them to maximize the overall performance. It supports the hydration level and helps to recover from the intense workout quickly. Also, it helps in reducing fatigue and prepares you for the next workout session.
4. Supports Muscle Repair
As mentioned above, hydration and electrolytes play a crucial role in your workout performance and can help build lean muscle tissue by increasing muscle protein synthesis. Now, in order for this to happen effectively, you need to make sure that your muscles are properly hydrated. In the case where you are dehydrated during your workout, there will be a delay in protein synthesis and recovery after the training session ends. That’s why following a workout, you need to not only replenish fluids (water) but include electrolytes as well.
5. Aids in Proper Digestion
After a workout, you need to fuel your body with high-quality food to help restore glycogen that was lost during training and was used by the muscles. Now, to support digestion, you need to have an adequate supply of water in the system. So, rehydrating properly after a workout session or athletic competition can help enhance your ability to break down and absorb food.
Should You Worry About Dehydration?
During a workout or athletic competition, your body loses electrolytes and minerals through sweat as your body’s natural temperature regulation (it wants to cool down your body). Now, if you don’t refuel your body with the required amount of fluids, it can lead to some health concerns and risks — some minor and some can be life-threatening depending on the severity of dehydration
If you’re serious about your workouts and competition, dehydration can have a negative impact on your performance. It can lead to fatigue, dizziness, slow response time, and low concentration or focus. In short, dehydration can ultimately reduce your endurance level to around half.
Staying hydrated replenishing electrolytes helps maintain energy levels, avoid fatigue, and crush your workouts and athletic competitions.
When Should You Take Electrolytes?
One of the biggest questions that arise is when to take electrolytes? Should you consume electrolytes before a workout, during a workout, or after a workout session? That’s a loaded question, and it entirely depends upon the type of workout you are doing, your body type, and how much you sweat. The simple answer to the question is “yes.” But let’s look a little deeper.
Preloading (Before Workout)
Just like you should warm up before you start a workout session or competition, you also need to give your body a boost through hydration. Consume electrolytes an hour before so that the body can absorb them before intense activity. Preloading will prepare you for the exertion and stress you are about to put your body under. It is also incredibly important for athletes who are planning to perform in hot temperatures.
Hydrating (During Workout)
When you start working out, your body begins losing electrolytes. If you are going for short sessions, water levels may be sufficient. But for longer or more intense sessions, you may need to utilize an electrolyte drink to replenish levels. Rather than drinking an entire electrolyte beverage all at once, try sipping it throughout your workout or competition.
Rehydrating (After Workout)
After you complete the workout session, you need to rehydrate your body so that it can recover and replenish the lost fluids. So, consuming fluids or electrolytes should be your priority after you complete the session. It will not just help regain the lost electrolytes but also help avoid injuries that can happen due to dehydration. When dehydrated, your body can pull fluid from everywhere — muscles, cells, organs, etc. When it comes to muscular hydration, the less you have in the muscles, not only will it negatively affect performance, but it can cause injuries to the muscle such as tears, and even the joints can become injured due to a loss of fluid and pliability.
How Can You Prevent Dehydration and Negative Effects?
If you are an endurance athlete or someone who exercises and lives an active lifestyle, ensure that you are properly hydrated and consume sufficient amounts of water and electrolytes.
While plain water is sufficient to hydrate your body properly, you need to have some sort of hydration supplement to continue performing at optimal levels.
One supplement that can help you prevent dehydration, improve rehydration, and reduce the risk of adverse effects is EndurElite Hydrate Elite. This product contains an advanced hydration formula that can enhance intracellular hydration levels, replenish sodium levels, and help restore and balance fluids.
With a mix of key vitamins and minerals, EndurElite Hydrate Elite is your perfect post-workout companion to help you recover from workouts and competition while replenishing key nutrients that were lost through excessive sweating. Water alone won’t provide you with what you need. Grab a tub of EndurElite Hydrate Elite today!