Electrolytes are arguably the most overlooked class of micronutrients among gym-goers.
By the same token, athletes who consume “sports beverages” like Gatorade and Powerade could achieve the same hydration without all the added sugar. In fact, a pure electrolyte supplement is a much healthier, more effective option for the vast majority of people (especially those who lift weights and want to cut body fat).
It is well-known that rigorous training and exhaustive exercise can rapidly deplete both water and electrolytes, resulting in dehydration and a decrease in performance. Intuitively, maintaining proper electrolyte balance is key.
But what are electrolytes, and why are they so important?
What Are Electrolytes?
Electrolytes are essential minerals that ionize in solution, allowing them to carry electrical charges throughout your body. In so doing, they can help move solutes across cell membranes to maintain cellular hydration. They also serve a variety of other roles in the human body and are necessary for proper organ function and cellular metabolism.
Top 5 Electrolytes for Hydration and Performance
For athletic performance and hydration, the top five electrolytes are sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Bicarbonate and chloride can also be beneficial. The sections below will discuss the nature of these electrolytes in more detail, particularly with how they can take your training and fitness to the next level.
It’s technically wrong to refer to sodium as “salt.” Sodium is a mineral that forms salts (much like other minerals), such as when it’s combined with chloride to create table salt. Sodium is the primary cation (a positively charged ion) in the fluid that resides outside of cells. In combination with potassium, sodium helps operate the sodium and potassium pump, which helps regulate cellular fluid balance and the total amount of water in the body.
Moreover, sodium is necessary for the brain, nervous system, and muscular contraction, which all require electrolytes to communicate. Many gym-goers will notice that consuming a sodium-rich meal before training leads to better “pumps.” This is more or less because the extra sodium leads to more water intake, and thus, cells are volumized.
In contrast to sodium, potassium is the primary cation present inside of cells. Remember, potassium works together with sodium to regulate cellular fluid balance. Potassium is also integral to heart rate health and muscular contraction. Since potassium is a key electrolyte, lacking it can lead to irregular heart rate, cramping, inability to contract muscle efficiently, and dehydration.
Most people lose a generous amount of potassium by sweating, making it essential to consume before hitting the gym.
Most people think of calcium as a trace mineral that merely serves to encourage healthy bones, but it does quite a bit more than just that. Calcium is an electrolyte that is ultimately under the control of calcitonin and is necessary for many functions. These functions include maintaining healthy vitamin D absorption, maintaining bone density, thyroid function, and muscular contraction.
In fact, people that lack calcium intake often feel sluggish and have recurrent muscle spasms, along with irregular heartbeat. It’s important to consume sufficient magnesium to optimize calcium levels, which is exactly why Hydrasurge contains both of these electrolytes.
Magnesium is one of the key electrolytes in humans, playing a role in many metabolic activities, especially in skeletal and smooth muscles. Research suggests that magnesium is the most common electrolyte that people lack in their diet, mainly due to depletion of the mineral in food sources.
Furthermore, magnesium appears to play a significant role in neurotransmission and cognitive function. Naturally, many people stand to benefit by supplementing with magnesium daily to ensure they maintain healthy blood levels.
Phosphorus is a trace mineral that plays many roles in humans, typically in the form of phosphate (phosphorus bound to oxygen). You’re likely familiar with the importance of phosphate as a component of ATP, which is essentially the energetic currency of your cells. Phosphate is also an important intracellular electrolyte (although most of the phosphate in your body has no charge).
Bone tissue houses about 85% of your body’s phosphate content. The remaining 15% resides inside your cells and is responsible for energy production.
Phosphate is also necessary for DNA synthesis, bone and teeth formation, and a variety of other biological processes.
Why Water Is the Most Important Nutrient
Water makes up roughly 70% of the human body and is an integral component of nearly all physiological processes. This is the very reason you won’t leave long without consuming fluids. Moreover, your body loses electrolytes and fluid when you sweat. Naturally, if you’re routinely hitting the gym and working up a sweat, you need to put extra effort into staying hydrated.
Consuming enough fluids, particularly water mixed with an electrolyte supplement like Hydrasurge is ideal for staving off dehydration during workouts. In fact, staying hydrated can enhance your performance and fat loss in some pretty amazing ways.
1. Water helps expand blood volume
Consuming enough water helps your blood to circulate. When you maintain a fully expanded blood volume and enough circulation, it is easier for the hormones in your body to circulate. It also helps process energy, which aids the fat loss process.
2. Water supports your liver’s capacity to mobilize fat tissue
There are many metabolites that buildup with fat. These metabolites need to be eliminated from the body. If you are hydrated enough, these metabolites will be eliminated through the kidneys. If you are dehydrated, the liver is going to be responsible for moving a lot of those metabolites into the bile and stool for excretion.
3. Water enhances endocrine signaling
As an analogy, think of your cells like balloons that can expand and fill up. As you fill a balloon with air, it stretches and volumizes. Your cells react in a similar way when you consume water. When your cells are properly hydrated, receptors are properly “exposed” and able to interact efficiently with signaling molecules, such as hormones.
4. Water increases energy expenditure
Two liters of ice-cold water at 40 degrees Fahrenheit requires about 65 calories to heat it to the standard core body temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tips for Maximizing Hydration and Performance
Electrolyte powders are imperative for gym-goers, athletes, and fitness enthusiasts alike who want to maximize their performance and hydration. However, electrolytes won’t do all the work for you: water intake is crucial. Here are some simple yet useful hydration tips to follow:
1. Keep a filled water bottle by your side throughout the day
While this may seem like common sense, many people go about their day without ever drinking much water at all. It is vital that you carry a water bottle with you throughout the day and take drinks as needed to keep hydrated. Ideally, mix a few liters of water with Hydrasurge and keep it in a jug where you can access it when needed during the day.
2. Drink at least a liter of water per every 25 kilograms that you weigh
The reality is that both smaller and larger individuals have different requirements of how much fluid they need daily to keep hydrated properly. For most people, drinking at least one full gallon (4 liters) of water per day will be adequate.
A simple rule of thumb to follow: throughout the day, drink at least one liter of water for every 25 kilograms that you weigh. For example, if you weigh 75 kilograms (which is roughly 165 lbs), you should aim for no less than three liters of water daily.
The only exception to this rule would be extremely active individuals. They might benefit from drinking upwards of two liters of water per every 25 kilograms of body weight.
2. Consume electrolytes before, during, and after training
If you’re regularly hitting the gym, then supplementing with electrolytes is one of the most practical ways to optimize hydration and performance. While things like Pedialyte and Gatorade contain electrolytes, they also typically include a ton of simple sugars. For most people, the consequences of ingesting loads of high-fructose corn syrup and dextrose found in sports beverages far outweigh the hydration benefits.
If you’re trying to keep calorie and sugar intake under control, the best option is a pure electrolyte supplement like Hydrasurge.
- Hydration requires adequate fluid intake along with electrolytes, which are minerals that ionize in solution and carry electrical charges throughout the body.
- Electrolytes are imperative for many functions in your body, especially for maintaining hydration and healthy muscular function.
- In general, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus are the most crucial electrolytes for hydration and performance. Bicarbonate and chloride are also beneficial.
- You should aim to drink at least one liter of water for every 25 kg you weigh. Most active people should drink at least four liters of water per day to make up for fluids lost during exercise.
- Supplementing with electrolytes in Hydrasurge can keep your hydration and performance optimal while you train without all the unnecessary added sugar found in most sports beverages.
About the author
Elliot Reimers, CNC, M.S. Candidate