Importance of Electrolytes during Exercise

Updated: Sep 18, 2019

If there is something common with all sports people and gym goers, it is that you will always see them with a bottle of water, or maybe two. Clearly, they understand the value and importance of water to rehydrate. It’s no rocket science that the body needs to replenish all the water that has been lost in the sweat, and hence, the water bottle(s).

What is interesting to note though is that when we exercise or participate in sports, especially if done over a longer period, we often notice some white residue on our clothing. This residue is left behind from all the salts, aka electrolytes that have exited the body along with the sweat. So my question to you is simple- are any of you taking the necessary steps to ensure we replenish those lost electrolytes as well?

If you are, do share more about what techniques you have adopted in the comments below. For others, it’s never too late. You see, if we drink only water to rehydrate, an imbalance is created and it can lead to water intoxication because the concentration of electrolytes goes down by only drinking water. Before getting into detailing these electrolytes, I would like to highlight that the electrolytes are an essential part of any biochemical reaction that happens in the system. They are vital for proper brain function and for maintaining efficient blood flow & viscosity. A proper electrolyte balance will ensure that your muscles don’t cramp up during active use, thereby ensuring proper muscle contractions. These are just a few of the functions associated with maintaining electrolyte balance in the system.

Are we taking the necessary steps to ensure we replenish those lost electrolytes as well?

We have all seen those commercial sports drinks available in the market. While they would provide you with the necessary electrolytes, they would also overload the body with sugars, artificial flavors and preservatives. During intense activity, the body is already in a state of stress, and you certainly do not want to put the body into a state where the digestive system has to work harder to digest these unwanted components. Not only will it make the body more acidic, it will actually slow down the overall recovery process and ultimately cause a delay in you achieving your goal.

The electrolytes that we are talking about are minerals like Sodium, Potassium, Chloride, Calcium & Magnesium. In order to replenish them, we need to simply opt for quick digesting/absorbing foods that would do the same trick the commercial sports drinks do. Let us start off by mixing simple lemon and salt in our water. If not this, you can always opt for fresh coconut water. Not only is it laden with electrolytes, it will also give you some natural, easy to digest sugar to help during the workout, match or training session. Another option that is widely practiced is the use of over the counter sachets of ORS, or Oral Rehydration Solutions. These are approved by the World Health Organization and are also used to treat dehydration symptoms associated with infections such as diarrhea in which massive loss of electrolytes occurs. Do not take this option on a regular basis though.

Always keep a banana handy if you’re a fitness and sports enthusiast

One particular food also offers a good dose of these minerals and that is the mighty banana. Always keep a banana handy if you’re a fitness and sports enthusiast. All in all, it is safe to say that we cannot undermine the importance of these electrolytes in our daily workout/training routine. Add these to your daily routine and you are sure to see an improvement in your sessions with improved muscle function, better focus and efficient blood flow. Not to mention the shorter recovery period. All these will ensure less stress in the body and will help you reach your goals faster and more efficiently.

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