We all know the importance of hydration, and many of us make it a point to drink a ton of water after exercise. But is water really enough?
This article will explain why, sometimes, drinking water may not do the trick when it comes to rehydrating after an intense workout.
What happens during an intense sweat session?
During an intense workout, the body loses some water and electrolytes. The more intense the workout is, the more water and electrolytes are lost.
Electrolytes are key minerals that ensure proper nerve and muscle function, maintain blood pressure, rebuild tissues in the body, among many other roles.
We also lose fluids during a sweat session. Every cell in the body needs water to function, as it helps to maintain proper body temperature, lubricates joints, transports nutrients, and circulates blood.
What happens if you don't rehydrate properly?
If your're regularly performing intense workouts that make you sweat prfusely, then you need to extra vigilant about your hydration, because you're losing a lot of fuids and electrolytes over the course of the week.
Here are some of the potential problems of not hydrating enough.
1. May cause cramps
If water and electrolytes are not replenished after a workout, it can lead to dehydration, muscle cramps, and fatigue.
If the electrolyte level stays low, muscles may continue to feel weak even during your next workout.
2. Muscle fatigue and loss of energy
Dehydration can also slow the muscle recovery process, which delays gains. When we exercise, we create small tears in our muscles.
Repairing these small tears is what makes our muscles bigger and stronger. This repair process requires the muscles to be well-hydrated.
3. Reduced athletic performance capacity
As the body exerts itself at high intensities during a workout, energy levels are reduced, therefore inhibiting our ability to continue exercising at the same exertion level.
We are limited by our hydration status, energy levels, and glycogen stores in our muscles. However, by hydrating well with fluids and electrolytes we may be able to prolong an intense workout.
What are electrolytes, anyway?
Electrolytes are minerals that dissolve in water. They break into small, electrically charged particles that have important roles to keep our body not only alive, but also functioning optimally.
Electrolytes are found in blood, cells, and the fluid throughout our body.
Sodium and chloride are electrolytes that maintain normal blood pressure and ensure the regular functioning of muscles and nerves (1).
Calcium is important for muscle contraction, magnesium is important for healthy cell function, and potassium helps regulate our energy and pH balance (1).
All of the electrolytes play a key role in keeping us alive and well.
And for athletes, electrolyte balance can make or break performance. Adequate hydration – and therefore adequate electrolyte balance – can enhance strength, speed, and focus.
Why water isn’t always enough
Water is important for hydration, but it just may not always cut it to restore optimal hydration after an intense sweat session.
After an intense workout – let’s say one hour of high-intensity interval training – the body is going to have lost fluids and electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Water can replenish the lost fluids, but it simply cannot replace the lost electrolytes.
Sodium is perhaps the most vital electrolyte to replace. If we drink lots of fluids without sodium, we risk hyponatremia, which is a condition of low sodium in the blood that can cause serious complications.
If we’re looking to quickly rehydrate and restore optimal electrolyte balance, incorporating electrolytes is key (2).
However, for less intense activity such as a walk through the park or a short jog, water is likely adequate to rehydrate the body. It’s only when it comes to intense workouts that cause us to really break a sweat that electrolytes are more important.
What is the best way to hydrate after a workout?
Consuming electrolyte drinks is typically the best way to rehydrate properly after a vigorous workout.
However, be wary of many electrolyte drinks on the shelves, as they’re often loaded with sugar. In fact, some beverages even contain as much sugar as a can of soda.
Sugar in high amounts contributes to dehydration as excess sugar increases blood glucose and in turn leads to increased urination, which can contribute to fluid and electrolyte losses. This, therefore, defeats the purpose of rehydration.
That’s why it’s important to look for rehydration drinks without loads of added sugar.
Our electrolytes powder, Nakedade, is a great option because not only is it low in sugar, but it contains potassium, sodium, and calcium to help replenish the body after fluids and electrolytes are lost.
Plus, it’s simple to take on the go. Simply add the electrolyte powder to your water bottle for a tasty, refreshing rehydration beverage.
What are other ways to promote electrolyte balance?
Eat a diet rich in magnesium – Magnesium-rich foods include nuts and seeds, beans, avocados, and whole grains. Aim to include these foods regularly into your diet (3).
Include high potassium foods – Foods high in potassium include bananas, melon, oranges, broccoli, spinach, and potatoes. Aim to include a variety of potassium-rich foods into your routine.
- Consume salty snacks after exercise – Grab a handful of salted pretzels after a workout to replenish the body with not only sodium but also carbohydrates to help replenish glycogen stores (4).
- Hydrate before and after workouts – Don’t forget about the importance of pre-workout hydration. Ensure you drink plenty of water before a workout to set yourself up for optimal hydration before engaging in intense exercise.
During an intense workout, we are depleted of both fluids and electrolytes. In order to properly replenish our bodies and rehydrate, incorporating electrolytes in our post-workout beverage is key.
Electrolytes are essential to essentially every function in our bodies. In addition to supporting optimal fluid balance, electrolytes are key for proper performance and recovery.
To make sure you’re adequately hydrated, it’s best to include a low-sugar electrolyte supplement to your post-workout routine, such as Nakedade. It can also help to consume a healthy, balanced diet that contains sufficient amounts of potassium, magnesium, and sodium.