20 Jul Why are Electrolytes for Sports so Important
If you’re an athlete or enjoy sports and exercise, you’ve probably heard of electrolytes. It’s one of those standard terms we all seem to know, but maybe we don’t quite understand its complexity. In essence, they’re essential minerals that support many of our body’s vital functions. They’re critical for everyone, but even more so for athletes. Electrolytes for sports are crucial.
What Are Electrolytes?
Let’s start with the basics. Some of the most common electrolytes include sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Athletes mostly hear about these when discussing dehydration, which is why many opt for sports drinks that replenish these minerals after heavy exercise or sports training. When you sweat, you lose electrolytes and lose fluid balance in the body. They also help to maintain muscle contraction and blood pressure.
By drinking water, sports drinks, and eating a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables, you’ll stay better hydrated when exercising. But when you exert yourself during training, it’s more efficient to replace lost minerals with sports drinks. But be warned—not all are created equal (more on that later).
Why Electrolytes for Sports?
We’ve already covered why electrolytes are important, but why are these minerals associated with athletes? A deficiency in these specific minerals can cause specific symptoms that can impair or hinder athletic performance. Without the correct hydration balance, you can feel tired or weak, experience muscle cramping, or even suffer from confusion. It can be scary.
Have you ever seen a video of a runner crawling across the finish line? Most likely, they had imbalanced hydration that contributed to their exhaustion and muscle cramping. Those types of events are a great example of the importance of electrolytes for sports training.
Most light training doesn’t require sports drinks. Something like a yoga class or a quick 45-minute workout will only need rest and water to rehydrate. But some people sweat more than others or live in hotter, more humid climates where sweating occurs regularly. A sports drink with electrolytes is a great way to rehydrate and balance your fluids after more strenuous exercise or sweating.
How to Get Them into Your Body
Let’s look at ways to get these electrolytes into your body when you need them. The best strategy is to diversify how you intake minerals. By eating a healthy diet and hydrating with sports drinks and electrolytes after training, you’ll surely be hydrated.
Electrolytes are everywhere in whole foods, which is the cleanest way to get the minerals you need. You can find sodium in foods like pickles, olives, beans, bread, and soups. Without enough sodium, athletes can feel week and experience low blood pressure. These symptoms can impact your abilities to perform, which is why sodium is one of the most important electrolytes for sports.
We all know dairy products are rich in calcium, but vegans can also find them in leafy greens, soy products, chia seeds, and fortified dairy-free milk and cereal. Calcium is excellent for bone health, which athletes need, but it can also support heart function, muscle contraction, and nerve signalling.
Magnesium is vital for muscle function, and without enough, athletes may experience fatigue, cramping, and an irregular heartbeat. You can easily find magnesium in spinach and other greens, plus beans, lentils, salmon, and nuts and seeds.
Muscles also love potassium, as it helps them contract properly. Potassium is especially important for the muscles of the heart and digestive system. We all know we can find it in bananas, but we can also source it from broccoli, potatoes, citrus fruit, and fish.
What About Sugary Sports Drinks?
More traditional sports drinks often get a bad reputation and quite rightly so – because they tend to be heavy on the sugar. Too much sugar can decrease your body’s absorption of the electrolytes, which defeats the purpose. But when you’re an athlete participating in regular sports training, diet alone may not supply enough of these vital minerals. That’s why it’s essential to find a sports drink with less sugar, such as BINDI NATURAL SPORTS HYDRATION and you don’t always have to reach for a sugary, refrigerated beverage.
There are many variations of ultra-hydrating electrolyte drinks. At Bindi, we have several options. Bindilyte is a LOW SUGAR powder that supplies the electrolytes without the extra sugar and carbs. Electrolytes plus carbohydrates for sports are essential for more substantial, prolonged exercise, so we also have our regular sports hydration powder. It gives a bit more support to sports training, but still with less sugar than traditional sports drinks. And for athletes on the go, you can grab our single-serve packs.