Lately, this seems to be a common theme that arises within some of my sessions with clients. And what I’m noticing is that people don’t seem to be replacing electrolytes as often as they should during/after a workout.
Ok, so what are electrolytes? They are minerals that have many different functions in the body. Some include ...maintaining water balance, helping your muscles contract and relax and some even help with transmitting nerve impulses. So they do some pretty important stuff! The most common electrolytes are sodium, potassium and chloride, but others include calcium and magnesium.
Why would I need to replace them? You may need to take them in if you’ve sweated a lot because of a sport/exercise or been in extreme hot temperatures, have certain medications that would cause them to leech from your body, have kidney problems…just to name a few reasons. The main reason I have to recommend them to people is because they are being active and sweating for a long period of time.
How would you know if you need to replace them? Muscle cramping is believed to be associated with dehydration, electrolyte deficits and muscle fatigue. If when you are done working out/training and you are left with caked salt on your skin that would definitely be a sign that you need to replace your electrolytes. Another is if you produce a considerable amount of sweat during your workout/training.
When should you replace them? When you are exercising hard for more than 1 hour, or you have a less intense but long workout you would benefit from an electrolyte replacement along with some carbohydrate to help give you a boost of energy.
What should you have? The ideal fluid during an exercise/training should have some sodium to help stimulate your thirst, a little potassium to replace what you lost in your sweat and a little sugar (carbohydrate) to give you a boost of energy. You can choose them from a premade sports drink, electrolyte replacement drink or even just from foods naturally. But if you have a diet that’s already quite high in salt then you should be ok with just ensuring that your post workout meal has some added salt, but if generally shy away from salt then you would benefit from some replacement.
If you’d rather make your sport drink, as you may not like the taste of the brands out there, here’s a recipe for you! (taken from Nancy Clark's Sport Nutrition Guidebook)
Yield 1 L
¼ cup (50g) Sugar
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup (60 ml) hot water
¼ cup (60 ml) orange juice (not concentrate) plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 ½ cups (840 ml) cold water
Dissolve the salt and sugar into the hot water. Add the juice and remaining water; chill then enjoy!
Per 250 ml: 50 calories, 12 g carbohydrate and 110 mg sodium
What do you like to use for electrolyte replacements??
(Note: I do not endorse or sell the products in the photograph)
I work as a Dietitian and definitely walk the talk. I love to cook and help people get back to being healthy again.