What Exactly are Electrolytes?

What Exactly are Electrolytes?

Have ever cramped in a marathon, run on a very hot summers day, sweat to the point of getting salt crystals on your face after a run, or had a horrible headache after your longer run? If you have answered yes to any of these, you definitely have required electrolytes.

I read an article recently that discussed the difference between hydration and electrolytes. Think of your body as a washing machine. The water is used to keep your washing machine working, however, the soap is used to get your clothes clean. The soap, your electrolytes, is necessary for numberous functions in your body. From digestion, maintaining cardiac and nervous systems, to assisting with muscle contraction and the transmission of nerve impulses. Needless to say, runners need electrolytes.

Some symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance are:
Muscle spasms, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, constipation, dark urine, decreased urine output, dry mouth and foul breath, dry skin, muscle weakness or stiff and achy joints.

Electrolytes are sodium (Na+), potassium (K+), calcium (Ca 2+), magnesium, (Mg 2+), chloride (Cl-), phosphate (PO4 2-), bicarbonate (HCO3-), and sulfate (SO4 2-).
However, the most important electrolytes that a runner needs are: Sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. These are the four major electrolytes that maintain the body’s fluid balance. As you build mileage and run longer than 90 minutes, nutritional supplements and electrolytes will become an important part of your training.

It is very hard to determine exactly how many electrolytes you will to replace after a long run. The problem is that each individual loses electrolytes differently. Electrolytes lost per workout even change with each individual, depending on their diet the day before, the level of humidity, the duration of exercise and their fitness levels.

The best way for you to determine how many electrolytes you need to replace after each work out requires some self-experimentation. There are numerous electrolyte supplements out there. Remember with these supplements, you aren’t after the calories…you are just after the electrolytes. A few of the brands I have used are Nuun and Elete Drops, both highly recommended.

Happy Running and I hope you find an Electrolyte Suppliment that works for you.

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