Mineral Balance: Electrolytes and Hydration

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          photo credit: Audrey Kranz

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          photo credit: Audrey Kranz

 

I love this time of year. Summer brings longer days and warmer weather. I return to the trail to enjoy heart-pounding, sweat-pouring runs in the mountains. Most athletes are attentive to the need to replenish protein and carbohydrate stores, but an often overlooked nutrient is mineral replenishment. Replacing minerals, aka electrolytes, is especially important with longer workouts and warmer weather.

Relationship of Electrolytes and Water

  • Water depends on electrolytes for proper absorption

  • Electrolytes are minerals that become capable of conducting electricity when dissolved in water.

  • Many of our body’s communications and functions rely on electrical impulses sent throughout the body, such as in the case of muscle contractions.

  • Electrolytes have four general functions

    • Control osmosis of water between fluid compartments

    • Help maintain pH balance

    • Carry electrical current

    • Cofactors for optimal enzyme function

 

Tip: Replenish electrolytes AFTER exercise bouts over an hour in length. I recommend replenishing electrolytes and glucose stores DURING exercise if over 1.5 hours in length.

A favorite electrolyte recipe (superior in electrolyte quantities vs top brands):

 

Homemade Electrolyte Recipe 

Ingredients

  • 1 orange

  • 1 lime

  • 1 liter of water

  • ⅛ to ¼ tsp. Himalayan Pink Salt (contains 84 trace minerals)

  • ½-1 Tbsp. of molasses (optional),  a great glucose and mineral boost but molasses can be an acquired taste. Another option (but lower mineral quantities) is raw honey.

 

With the right “ingredients” available our bodies have the necessary nutrients to rebuild and restore so we can recover more quickly and be ready to perform the next time out!

 

*In general, you can use the above 1 liter recipe for 1-1.5 hours of moderate exercise but this will vary depending on your height, weight, type of activity, amount of sweating and temperature. There are many online sources you can use to help dial in your specific replenishment needs.