Should my Post-Workout Supplement Have Electrolytes?
You’ve seen them in sport drink commercials, you’ve heard about them in science – electrolytes. They sound cool, we need them to live, but do we need electrolytes in our post-workout supplements?
Only if you want to live.
Just kidding. Or are we?
No seriously, you do need them to live, but let’s chat about if they’re necessary in your post-workout supplement.
Electrolytes Move Our Bodies
Electrolyte balance and water are required for our bodies to function and survive. Water doesn’t only hydrate us. Water is the medium our bodies use to trigger biochemical reactions with electrolytes. Electrolytes compel muscle contraction and movement. Woah, that sounded really white lab coat-y.
Electrolytes are, for once, named for what they are. They are electrical. Thanks science, for the break from pronouncing impossible names.
So, our bodies are driven by electrical impulses to move our muscles and to survive.
Bodily fluids are mostly made up of water and electrolytes. They are basically tiny particles called ions that react and separate in water.
Some have a positive charge, others have a negative charge. Opposites attract. Like magnets. This is important because it’s how they MOVE us. Through the energy and movement created through attraction.
Electrolytes are in our bodily fluids and inside and outside of our cells. They are in constant motion attracting and repelling. This moves nutrients and fluids in and out of cells while powering contractions in our skeletal muscle and even our hearts.
Commonly supplemented electrolytes include calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium.
- Calcium: triggers muscle contractions, blood clotting and nerve signaling.
- Magnesium: required for muscle contractions, proper nerve functioning, heart rhythms, and protein fluid balance.
- Potassium: regulates blood pressure and heart contractions.
- Sodium: required for muscle contractions, nerve signaling and helps maintain fluid balance.
Electrolyte Loss During Exercise
During exercise, when you sweat, your body loses electrolytes and water – mostly water, and sodium and potassium.
When these ions are low, the body’s ability to distribute water to other areas of the body is compromised.
Additionally, where depleting levels of water resides in the body, are also depleted levels of electrolytes. When this happens, dehydration sets in. The body is not fueled with the water or ions to function and begins to shut down.
You’ve seen people who have a scary low level of electrolytes or an imbalance—they crawl across finish lines or look as if they’ve lost control of their body as they try to finish a race.
That’s how important electrolytes are to simply surviving.
Replacing Electrolytes with Post-Workout Supplement
As we lose electrolytes and water, they must be replaced in order to function. Drinking both is the most efficient way to remedy both losses.
If your electrolytes are imbalanced your body will not be able to properly distribute water, and then you could become dehydrated.
That word is used so much, it has lost its impact. Dehydration isn’t just a sticky tongue or feeling of thirst—it can be deadly.
In fact, just lack of water for around 5 days can kill you—imagine the expedited damage if your electrolytes are out of whack, too?
It’s scary, but it should be. We need water and electrolytes to survive and when we train, we lose both.
But, it’s not just about exercise. Fluid balance is critical for the function of all your body’s organs to function normally and for you to survive.
This is why it is so important for athletes to stay hydrated during exercise to maintain balance and after exercise to replenish what you lost. So important.
Charge Up Your Body and Your Workout With Electrolytes
So, we’ve answered your original question of whether your post-workout should have them. The next question you should be asking is “Where do I get a phenomenal post-training supplement with electrolytes.” We got your back on that one, too. Go here. You’re welcome.