Electrolytes are minerals (e.g., sodium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphate, etc.) that break down into small, electrically-charged ions when dissolved in water. The electrolytes within your body are located in your blood and cells and are necessary to regulate fluid passage through the cell membranes. For example, sodium and chloride help to maintain your blood pressure level by regulating fluid balance within your blood. Sodium and chloride also support muscle and nerve function. Other electrolytes include calcium and magnesium which aid in muscle contraction and nerve impulses. Potassium and phosphate help to regulate energy, muscle contraction and pH balance. Here are some of the benefits of electrolytes:
Many factors determine your electrolyte level including gender, body size, exercise intensity, environment, exercise duration, etc. Males tend to sweat more than females and therefore experience sodium losses at a much greater degree. Large-frame people need more sodium than smaller people due to an increased sweat rate. High-intensity exercise certainly speeds the depletion of electrolytes more than low-intensity exercise. A hot, humid environment will definitely impact mineral losses more than a cool, dry environment. The longer your exercise duration, the more likely you'll become depleted in essential minerals. The recommendation is to drink a sports drink during and after a workout that lasts more than 90 minutes.
There is a huge market for sports drinks but many contain way too much sugar which adds unnecessary calories. A relatively high rehydration solution concentration may slow gastric emptying, causing stomach upset. Instead, opt for drinks that have six to eight percent carbs per eight ounces and about 120 to 170 mg of sodium. Gatorade fits the bill, supplying the essential electrolytes with minimal sugar.
Brian Danley, CFT
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."
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I'm a personal trainer who loves to help others fulfill their health and fitness goals. I consider myself a bodybuilder in that I live the lifestyle of eating healthy food, working out regularly, and sculpting my body.