Electrolytes; Need to Know!

Electrolytes; Need to Know!

Electrolytes (often referred to as salts) play a vital role in health and sports performance, they get you moving by enabling your muscle fibres to function, contracting and relaxing. Electrolytes also aid in nervous system function and balancing fluid in our bodies. 

Why are extra electrolytes / salts needed in exercise?

We naturally lose electrolytes through sweat and as the duration and / or intensity of our session increases the need to replace electrolytes grows, with the aim of prolonging high performance and preventing the onset of cramp and fatigue. 

Muscle contraction relies on the electrolytes sodium, potassium and calcium to help transmission and signal of nerve impulses which results in movement. 

Electrolytes also help in the hydration process by maintaining the fluid balance of our body, pulling water through from the stomach (intestine) into the cells. A flow on effect of keeping your body hydrated means you're helping to keep your body cool, functioning and again avoid the downward spiral to fatigue. 

What electrolytes are in sweat? 

Sodium is the predominant electrolyte in sweat, but calcium, potassium and magnesium are also present. This is why you will often find these electrolytes added to sports nutrition products.

How many electrolytes does an individual need? 

This is tricky to answer as the rate at which we sweat and the concentration of salt levels in sweat is different for everyone. Generally, a sports drink is sufficient to replace your lost electrolytes in exercise over 60-90 minutes (or high-intensity short stints) but it does depend on exercise intensity. In some situations, like being in a hot and humid environment, or if you are prone to muscle cramp, you'll need more electrolytes. PURE Electrolyte Replacement Capsules have been developed for these such situations and can be taken before and during sessions.

Can the concentration of sports drink be doubled to get more electrolytes? 

Theoretically yes but we don't recommend it. Our hydration ranges are designed to be made at the instructed concentration to help hydrate your body as fast as possible. Increasing the concentration, and therefore the levels of carbohydrates, can change the speed and efficiency of this process.

PURE Electrolyte Replacement Capsules are designed to take either on their own or alongside the PURE Electrolyte Hydration range. Each capsule contains the essential electrolytes - sodium, magnesium, potassium and calcium.  Simply take with water or sports drink - no need to dissolve.

PURE Race Fuel has been designed for longer durations, so a higher sodium concentration has been included to match. Why? Sodium is vital to support the uptake of glucose out of the intestinal tract and studies have shown an average loss of 1000mg sodium per hour. A combination of both sodium chloride and sodium citrate have been used, for flavour and reduced GI issues, as well as other electrolytes that are lost in sweat.

I'm just walking a half marathon, will I need electrolytes?

Yes, yes, yes. Even low-intensity exercise goers still need to replace electrolytes. You still sweat, even in cold weather, so you still lose electrolytes from your body. If you don't replace these or you drink too much water while exercising (particularly low intensity, long duration) you can potentially get a condition called Hyponatraemia or low sodium levels. Symptoms include nausea, confusion and headaches. 

Do I need extra salt in my diet?

Generally, as a population we consume too much salt, which can have negative consequences. However, in saying this if you are undergoing a heavy training load, or leading into an event, then extra salt in your meals will help ensure you have a healthy electrolyte balance and you are replacing those lost through sweat. Just don't forget to dial it back if and when your exercise load lowers. 

What about magnesium?

The electrolyte Magnesium has many roles including muscle and nervous system function, heart function and even helps control blood pressure regulation and blood glucose. If you are exercising this may be a supplement for you to consider taking to support training and recovery. 

PURE Products that contain electrolytes: