In an AI-impregnated world like ours, a word like electrolyte might look like a new Artificial Intelligence creation. That’s, however, very far from the truth. Actually, despite what the word suggests, electrolytes are just minerals that fulfil essential roles in your body. How do they do this exactly, and how can they help you improve your exercise performance? We’ll cover that below.
What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are ions (charged particles) that conduct electricity when dissolved in a liquid — namely, water. As it happens, water has plenty of essential electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium or chloride. You’ve probably heard about them all; what maybe you didn’t know was that they’re, in fact, some of the most common electrolytes and that you restock them every time you hydrate.
And what do they do?
Like water, electrolytes are crucial to our lives: you couldn’t live without them, since you need them to move, think and live. In terms of hydration, electrolytes are in charge of directing water (and nutrients) to the areas of the body where it’s needed the most.
How can they help you improve your fitness performance?
We know the human body is 60% water, but we also know that each time we exercise, we lose water and fluids more rapidly than we do normally, especially via sweating, since our body temperature increases considerably. Plus, when you work out, your muscles need to heal. If you don’t drink enough water, your muscles weaken, making you lose strength. However, if you keep your hydration optimal, you’ll feel energised, enhancing your performance.
Besides sustaining vital functions, fluids also help us clear waste, regulate temperature, and absorb nutrients, just to name a few. Electrolytes are crucial for maintaining fluids and nutrients in the body balanced.
What happens when your electrolyte intake is low?
Inbalances in one of these electrolytes can disrupt your fitness performance and make your recovery longer. Ultimately, you can experience dizziness, headache, fatigue and muscle cramps, all symptoms you want to avoid. Normally, the average adult can maintain adequate electrolyte levels with a healthy diet and proper hydration.
Nowadays, you have myriad possibilities to increase your electrolyte intake. There are plenty of sports drink brands out there — the ones with fun colours that you see professional athletes drink. If you’re not a fan of these, you can always make your own drink: buy electrolyte powders separately, mix them with water, and you’re good to go.