Electrolytes are vital to our well-being and play a necessary role in many body processes.
They are necessary for nerve and muscle function, ensuring proper hydration, and regulating the body’s pH levels.
This article will explain what electrolytes are, if they give you energy, and ways to ensure you’re getting enough for your body.
What are Electrolytes?
Electrolytes are minerals that when dissolved in water, carry a positive or negative charge which is important for their function in various metabolic processes.
Electrolytes are found in blood, sweat, and urine. There are six different electrolytes in the body including sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphate, and bicarbonate.
While each electrolyte has its own specific roles, they all are closely involved in maintaining proper fluid balance, as well as nerve and muscle function.
Do Electrolytes Give You Energy?
While electrolytes don’t specifically provide energy in the form of calories, they support the body’s ability to create energy.
Electrolytes play a role in converting the building blocks of carbs, fats, and proteins into ATP. ATP is a molecule that carries energy and allows essentially every cell and body function to happen. Calcium and magnesium in particular are critical to this ATP synthesis.
However, if you are fueling your body adequately and hydrating properly, it might not be necessary to consume additional sources of electrolytes to boost your energy levels, unless of course, you are dehydrated or depleted of electrolytes.
If you are dehydrated and lacking adequate electrolytes you will likely be left feeling fatigued. In this case, consuming electrolytes will improve your hydration status and boost your energy levels. Sodium specifically is helpful in optimizing our body’s hydration status as it plays a role in sending neurotransmitter signals from the brain and regulating appropriate fluid levels.
Electrolytes and Hydration
We lose electrolytes through body fluids like sweat, and urine, as well as vomiting and diarrhea when we’re sick.
Electrolytes are a vital part of keeping the body hydrated as they ensure the proper balance of fluid both inside and outside our cells (1).
You may be wondering how exactly electrolytes keep this perfect balance of fluids within our cells. The answer lies within a process called osmosis. Osmosis is a process where water moves from a more dilute solution to a more concentrated solution. In terms of hydration, electrolytes – especially sodium – help move water from the outside of our cells to the inside of our cells to improve hydration.
As a result, our cells can stay hydrated and happy, keeping us feeling our best.
Why Do Athletes Take Electrolytes?
After working out, athletes are often left depleted of fluid and electrolytes. Low electrolytes can leave people feeling weak, and fatigued, and some may get muscle cramps. In more severe cases of electrolyte depletion, athletes can experience headaches, nausea, and sometimes blood pressure changes.
More electrolytes are lost during intense exercise that may last longer than an hour, especially when exercising in hot and humid environments. When people sweat they lose both water and electrolytes, especially sodium and chloride. In cases of more intense exercise, consuming electrolytes is helpful for quickly restoring proper fluid balance.
With easy to moderate exercise, simply drinking water will likely be totally adequate to keep you hydrated.
Electrolytes and Muscle Function
While there are many electrolytes that play a role in muscle function, calcium in particular is important for muscle contraction (2).
Calcium allows for muscle fibers to shorten, which is what triggers the muscle to shorten and contract.
Magnesium also plays a role in muscle function, as it is required to allow the muscle to relax after contracting.
In general, all the electrolytes work together to keep the body’s pH in balance, which in turn sets the foundation for the proper nervous system and muscle function (3).
Electrolytes Drinks and Sugar
Now that we understand why electrolytes are so vital to our health, it’s helpful to know how you can consume electrolytes.
Unfortunately, many of the electrolyte products on the shelves are loaded with sugar. While sugar in and of itself is not inherently a bad thing, many people aim to reduce their overall sugar intake for various health reasons.
The average electrolyte beverage contains approximately 150 calories and 40-50 grams of sugar in just one bottle. Given that Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that people should consume less than 10% of their calories from added sugars, sugar-sweetened beverages like Gatorade for example would make it difficult to follow this recommendation (4).
However, it’s important to note that not everyone needs to or should avoid consuming sugar altogether. In fact, consuming sugar can be helpful for many athletes, given that athletes need to replenish their glycogen stores with quick-digesting carbs.
If you are looking to reduce your sugar intake but still want to replenish your electrolytes after a tough workout, our electrolytes powder Nakedade is a great choice.
It’s made with low-glycemic Palatinose that won't spike blood sugar. Plus, it’ll provide 285 mg of potassium which will help you stay hydrated and reduce the risk of muscle cramps.
Ultimately, the body requires sugar, salt, water, and other electrolytes to rehydrate properly. Because many typical sports drinks have too much sugar and not enough electrolytes to completely replenish you, choosing a specially formulated product like Nakedade is a good idea to ensure your body will get what it needs.
How Often Should I Take Electrolytes
You should take electrolytes after intense exercise to replenish fluids that were lost through sweat. Especially if you were exercising for over an hour or two, or if conditions were hot and humid, you should definitely rehydrate with electrolytes.
Everyone will have slightly different needs depending on how much they sweat, and the actual amount of electrolytes lost, so it’s important for athletes to learn to listen to their bodies and rehydrate appropriately.
In some cases, people may choose to take electrolytes preemptively before exercise to ensure optimal hydration status before they start exerting themselves and losing electrolytes through sweat.
Electrolytes are minerals that the body requires for many functions such as proper hydration, as well as muscle and nerve function.
While electrolytes themselves don’t exactly provide the body with energy, they are involved in the creation of energy from food. Plus, when people are dehydrated they will often feel tired, so replenishing with electrolytes can help people feel better and more awake.
Many people choose to include electrolyte drinks to ensure proper hydration, especially after intense exercise. When choosing the right electrolyte beverage, it may be helpful to opt for a lower sugar product that you can be sure is especially formulated to give your body the appropriate balance of electrolytes to keep you hydrated and feeling your best.