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Is that Sports Drink Worth It? The Importance Of Electrolytes In Optimal Hydration

By Jamie LLoyd

  • Electrolytes are SUPER IMPORTANT for optimal hydration
  • Human bodies run on energy, and electrolytes provide this body power
  • Jamie Lloyd explains the role of electrolytes in keeping the body energised and hydrated

Water and electrolytes… What’s the importance?

Is That Sports Drink Worth It?

Simply put the human body is made up of life force expressed as electrical energy through the activity of electrolytes via water.

But these two materials are essential to life and are fundamental to the optimum performance of athletes. We are made up of approximately 60-70% water.

Water is the major component of body fluids, including blood, synovial fluids, saliva and urine which are all major functions in the body. 

Kleiner suggests that the average sedentary adult man should have at least 2900ml water a day and women should have 2,200ml a day.

They should not be in forms of alcohol, coffee, Coke or those colourful nasty drinks you see at petrol stations. They should be soups, decaffeinated and non-alcoholic - forming around 1,000 ml of daily supply.

Additionally, 250ml will come from the water of oxidation. 

Chemically, electrolytes may be seen as a substance that become ions in solution and acquire the capacity to conduct electricity.

However, electrolytes are present throughout the body and their correct balance is required for the normal function of our cells and organs. 

Nutrient Requirements for Adaptation

Nutrient Requirements for Adaption

Given its taken donkeys years to get to this stage in evolution, there should be no need to get concerns about how athletes meet realistic training challenges.

So from a biomechanical outlook, the body does need the correct balance of amino acids, fibre, water, electrolytes, carbohydrates, vitamins, phyto nutrients, essential fats and probiotics.

Both water and electrolytes form part of the foundation of the biomechanical pyramid. Without the correct hydration balance, other nutrients will not have the desired effects and become lost as non- functional nutrients. 

Quality not quantity!

Quality not Quantity

So ad we contain mostly water we need to think about getting the most quality water in daily and that doesn't mean straight from the tap! 

As you know in London alone, water passed through 7 bodies before you drink it - that's without the 200 toxic chemicals and chlorine it contains!

So invest in getting the cleanest water you can. Glass bottled spring water is best or if you have some cash get a reverse osmosis or a basic filtering machine installed at home.

These strip all the natural electrolytes and leave it with an acid PH. So one solution would be to give your water a boost with electrolytes.

This will ensure that the majority of the water that makes up 60% of the human body is as nutrient as possible. 

So what do electrolytes do?

Their primary physiological role is to increase energy production, energy storage and energy use and as regulators of total body fluid levels, with the following being considered to be the most important electrolytes...

  • Sodium: this regulates fluid balance and is found outside the cell
  • Potassium: potent in bananas and held regulates metabolism and is found inside the cell
  • Magnesium: this is a super mineral and as humans we are most deficient in this and if you are a coffee monkey it will strip your body totally of magnesium.
    This helps to regulate the levels of other electrolytes and help with muscle relaxation.
  • Calcium: this helps regulate muscle contraction and heart rhythm. So these electrolytes are mostly bound to chloride, bicarbonate, sulphate and phosphate ions.
Woman Drinking Water

When undergoing intense activity or smashing yourself in the gym for hours, there is a significant importance for the body to draw upon stores of electrolytes to ensure stage of resistance can be sustained for as long as possible.

If it cannot be sustained, thirst will kick in and you'll end up dehydrated. So one way to ensure an adequate supply of electrolytes is to add them to water as they do not have to go through any further digestive processes and can assist in the absorption of water.

When a study was conducted on 16 Californian Firefighters, 8 were just given only water, and 8 were given water containing electrolytes.

It was found after a 15-hour shift, both teams were equally hydrated, but those who drank water alone had to drink 74% more water than those who consumed water with electrolytes.  

Conclusion

  • Get the right balance of quality water and electrolytes if you want to stay energised for longer during endurance events.
  • This is also important for preventing cramps and dehydration.
  • Go for a high quality electrolyte rather than low quality ones – be careful when picking a sports drink because of this.

References

Seelig MS & Rosanoff A (2003) The Magnesium Factor

Cuddy J S et al (2008) Effects of Electrolyte Additive on Hydration and Drinking Behaviour during Wildfire Supression 19: 172-180

Benelem B & Wyness L (2010) Hydration and Health: British Nutrition Foundation Bulletin

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