What are electrolytes?

What are electrolytes?

I’d like to talk electrolytes. What are they? How do they work within our body? Why it’s important to replenish them after our workouts and also which SF Nutrition products can help us do so.

Electrolytes:


Electrolytes are positively or negatively charged ions that conduct electrical activity. In the human body electrolytes must be present in proper concentrations to maintain fluid balance, muscle contraction and neural activity. The kidneys work to maintain electrolyte balance by conserving or excreting electrolytes. Water follows the movement of electrolytes, particularly sodium and chloride, meaning that water is drawn to locations where electrolytes are most concentrated.


Therefore, electrolytes play a critical role in maintaining equilibrium of water throughout the body, particularly during exercise when electrolytes and water can be lost through sweating.


FACT - Muscle cramping due to electrolyte imbalance most commonly associated with lack of potassium is actually due to the loss of sodium through sweat. Therefore, replacing sodium is important to maintain electrolyte balance for physically active individuals who experience high losses of sodium through sweating.


Electrolytes lost in high concentrations through sweat include sodium and chloride, while electrolytes lost in low concentrations include potassium, magnesium and calcium. Keep in mind that all electrolytes work together to maintain fluid balance in the body at rest and during physical activity.


FACT - as individuals become more acclimatised to a hot environment, they adapt by improving their ability to reabsorb (or hold on to) sodium and chloride, resulting in decreased loss of electrolytes via sweat.)
It is important to note that dehydration can increase the sweat concentration of sodium and potassium. A general rule of thumb is to never begin a workout thirsty or dehydrated.


TIP - One way to assess hydration status prior to a workout is by looking at urine colour. Ideally, urine colour should be pale yellow.

Taking into account the above, I like to use SF Nutrition BCAA + Electrolyte mix both during my day and during my training sessions to ensure I am adequately hydrated and my electrolytes are being replenished regularly throughout the day. I have found this to be of benefit to maintaining high levels of performance.


My favourite mix currently is Raspberry flavour mixed with ice cold water and a pinch of pink salt!

Jack Forrester
SF Nutrition Ambassador


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