In this article, we'll point out the benefits derivating from proper electrolytes replenishment, trying to answer some of the most common questions regarding the optimal electrolytes intake for athletes, and busting some myths related to salt consumption.
What are electrolytes in simple terms?
Think of electrolytes as the engine oil in your car: they don't make the engine run, but they're crucially necessary to keep everything operating. Muscle, nerves, heart, and digestive system all depend on satisfactory electrolytes replenishment to function correctly. The main effect of a lack of electrolytes in your system consists in cramping, but many athletes underestimate consistent electrolyte replenishment because they've "never had cramping problems."
Why should I replenish electrolytes?
Just as you shouldn't wait until you're dehydrated or feel weak before replenishing fluids and calories, you shouldn't wait for cramps to warn you to supply electrolytes. Consider that, by the time you start cramping, your performance has been severely compromised for a long time already. Cramping is your body's way of letting you know you are at risk! Furthermore, without correct levels of electrolytes, your body can't carry out critical body functions like muscle contractions and transmission of nerve impulses, which affect performance.
To sum up, the goal of replenishing electrolytes is not just to prevent cramps, but also to maintain specific bodily functions at optimal levels.
What is the best way to replenish your electrolytes?
Proper electrolyte replenishment during endurance exercise requires a consistent approach that incorporates all electrolytes in amounts that do not override your standard body mechanisms. Your electrolyte intake must fly below the radar to avoid detection by your body, yet be influential enough to support its functions and prevent issues such as cramping.
Salt contains electrolytes. Should I use salt tablets?
As we said, muscle cramping is a signal you've already allowed your electrolyte levels to drop far too low, or you've replenished them improperly. Effective electrolyte management is essential to perform your best and avoid cramping, but the sodium contained in salt tablets isn't the answer for 2 reasons:
1# - Your body needs more than just sodium and chloride, and that's all you'll get from salt tablets.
2# - They can oversupply sodium, overcoming the body's elaborate mechanism for regulating sodium.
If you did an event in the heat and you had cramps or other heat stress-related illnesses, common sense may suggest you didn't drink enough and/or didn't consume enough sodium, so the next time, you'll think to take more liquids and more salt!!
This cycle of confusion around the cause and effect of high sodium intake caused athletes to suffer intensely during and after their hot events.
Sodium could temporarily resolve a cramping issue, but it will surely disrupt the minerals balance needed for bodily functions to operate properly.
Electrolytes and sodium needs fluctuate much more than caloric or hydration needs, so you will have to run some experiments with your own body during training (with good quality electrolyte drinks or tablets) until you guess your specific electrolytes requirements under various conditions.
The Endurolytes and Endurolytes Fizz formula can be classified as a low-sodium electrolyte formula as it only contains 100 mg of sodium chloride per serving. It is to be used during heat stress exercise by athletes consuming a low-sodium diet. Many electrolyte capsules are primarily sodium, but Endurolytes is a full-spectrum formula containing a balanced blend of sodium chloride, potassium, calcium and magnesium to help ensure proper function of all body systems. Take a look at the full range of electrolytic products we are proud to offer at Hammer Nutrition!
"Accurately formulated without excess salt, refined sugars, or artificial ingredients, our full-spectrum electrolyte product, Endurolytes, supports top performances in the harshest conditions."
HEED, Hammer Nutrition's complex carbohydrate powdered sports drink, also contains a complete and easily assimilated electrolyte profile (not just salt and potassium which is all that most other sports drinks have). Some athletes satisfy their entire electrolyte needs by consuming both HEED and Endurolytes products in the correct dosage after having run experiments with their intake during years of training.
"In opposition to “classic sports drinks” (containing lots of sugar, salt, and citric acid), HEED is a healthy, subtle-flavored alternative. It is composed of complex carbohydrates, a balanced electrolyte profile, and essential nutrients that balance blood sugar and buffer lactic acid to ensure long-lasting energy. The only sweeteners you'll find in it are xylitol and stevia, gentle to your teeth."
Hammer Nutrition's Endurolytes, Endurolytes Fizz, Endurolytes Extreme, and Endurolytes Extreme Powder fulfils the body's electrolytic mineral requirements, consequently optimizing diverse bodily functions and improving exercise performance and helping you avoid issues connected with electrolyte disproportion or deficiency.