Electrolytes 101: What They are and How They Can Help You

Electrolytes are critical for your body, especially in those who heavily exercise or play sports. See here why they’re good for you and how you can get more!

So are you planning on running for a race? You might have planned out the workouts in minute detail. However, the most important thing that you need is a performance-boosting nutrition strategy.

It makes all the difference. You probably already know that one would not get far without replenishment of endurance nutrition which includes electrolytes, fluids, and calories.

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The easy part is calories. Fuel equals energy and energy leads to performance.Fluids are important because insufficient fluids would lead to more than just dehydration.

Simply put, it is dangerous to run on insufficient fluids. The other vital nutritional component is electrolytes. You might know that you need electrolytes and that they help keep the body chemistry in balance.

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They are critical for optimal performance. Therefore, one should be concerned about the replenishment of electrolytes just as much as of lost fluid.

So What Are Electrolytes?

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Electrolytes are minerals that dissolve in water and break into small electrically charged particles known as ions.

When there is water in the blood, it is electrolytes that regulate the bodily fluids. They help maintain a healthy blood pH balance and create the required electrical impulses to all aspects of physical activity.

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That includes basic cell functioning to complex neuromuscular interactions that are required for optimal athletic performance.

More Than Salt

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Chances are that you already know that chloride and sodium are the most important electrolytes. They excite the muscles and nerves.

That does not mean you should douse food with table salt. Other key electrolytes should be considered as mentioned below.

  • Phosphate: Helps regulate the pH balance.
  • Potassium: Helps regulate the pH balance.
  • Magnesium: Ensures healthy cell function.
  • Calcium: Aids with muscle contraction.

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Eating a balanced diet will ensure that consume the required quantities of electrolytes that are needed for normal human function.

Electrolytes separate into negatively and positively charged ions in the water surrounding and inside each cell, along with the bloodstream when consumed.

Water serves as the conductor that allows ions to easily move across the membranes and for transporting waste, nutrients, and fluid.

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In the process, muscle function and nerve impulses are triggered. It allows the ions in your blood to help neutralize the lactic acid and other acids that get dumped into your bloodstream as waste.

Normal physical function is ensured as long as your electrolyte and hydration levels are in balance. However, you should consider working out as it will help balance the shift.

Sweat it Out

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When we sweat, we tend to lose electrolytes. However, we lose water at a much faster rate as compared to electrolytes.

Therefore, it is not critical to have the lost minerals replaced immediately during the workout.

The truth is that during short workouts, the concentration of the electrolytes of the body increases.

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The kidneys help filter out the extra electrolytes to correct this imbalance. But, longer workouts would empty the body of sodium and other vital electrolytes.

When the electrolyte levels drop to a low level, there is a severe loss of neuromuscular function which is why effective replacement of electrolytes is important. Sports drinks are your best bet.

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