“Electrolytes” is one of those buzzwords you hear when learning about health, exercise, and nutrition. Athletes often stock up on electrolyte-infused drinks after working out, but not everyone understands the significance of these minerals. There’s a science behind the theory of both preloading before exercise, and rehydrating afterwards. Both are equally essential to the performance of your body.
The Hydration Process
By hydrating well before a workout, you’re giving your organs, cells, and tissues the fluid they need to perform at an optimal level.
We know that the human body is 60% water, our most significant component. But we regularly lose water and fluid through sweating, urination, breathing, bowel movements, etc.
Beyond supporting vital functions, fluid in our bodies is also essential for removing waste, regulating temperature, and absorbing nutrients, amongst other things. We must maintain a balance of fluids and nutrients in the body, and electrolytes help.
When to Intake Electrolytes
Electrolytes are essential minerals that your body needs to stay hydrated before, during, and after exercise. But they do more than that. Electrolytes also support our body’s vital functions, such as muscle contraction (including the heart), blood pressure, nerve signalling, and much more.
They help your body retain fluid during heavy exercise when you’re sweating, so they can also keep joints lubricated and maintain your energy, avoiding dehydration related fatigue.
Most athletes know the age-old advice to rehydrate after a workout—that’s why you see plenty of post-workout electrolyte drinks in nutrition shops. But is that enough? The simple answer is no. When exercising or playing sports, anyone who knows nutrition will tell you that you need to support your body before, during, and after an athletic performance.
Think of preloading as stretching or a warmup. With a dose of hydration before exercise, you’re giving your body the boost it needs.
Start drinking water and electrolytes about one hour before, so the fluid has time to reach all areas of your body. Pre-hydration also gets your heart pumping and blood moving through your core and extremities to prepare for exertion.
Preloading is especially crucial for endurance athletes and when performing in hotter temperatures. You can find electrolyte products such as BINDILYTE for preloading at many Australian nutrition shops, including Bindi.
Now that you’ve prepared your body for exercise, it’s essential to also keep it hydrated during exertion. You don’t necessarily need electrolytes for this—water will suffice for short or easy sessions. Try drinking small amounts of water during your activity.
A good rule of thumb is to drink about 100-150ml every 20 minutes or so. Too much intake can make you feel sick, especially for high-endurance and intense activities, so small regular sips are best.
Australian nutrition shops are filled with post-workout hydration products which are vital to help your body recover.
You lose fluid during exercise because you sweat and breathe heavily, so replenishing lost water and electrolytes should be your first priority after you’ve finished your workout.
Bindi has a variety of products, including both bulk powders and individual sachets for replenishment. Our new product BINDILYTE is a 99% sugar-free electrolyte mix, so you can rehydrate without worrying about blood sugar.
The Essential Electrolytes
The vital minerals to focus on include magnesium, calcium, sodium, and potassium. They will help your muscles contract and relax (and avoid cramping), maintain body temperature, and help with any mineral deficiencies (magnesium deficiency is common).
They’ll also keep your energy up, and mental clarity heightened. So when you choose an electrolyte drink, concentrate on those four minerals which are found in BINDILYTE
Want to know more? Check out this Youtube video by Tia Chitty, which explains all about using electrolytes, and she evens reviews the flavours and picks a favourite…