The Sport Information Resource Centre
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The Sport Information Resource Centre
Electrolytes are electrically charged particles that help the body function normally. The importance of electrolytes in the human body is so great that we quickly react to an electrolyte deficiency. Athletes in particular are susceptible because electrolytes are depleted during perspiration.

Some of the more familiar electrolytes include potassium, calcium, magnesium and sodium. These minerals are responsible for regulating nerve and muscle function, blood pressure, and hydration and fluid distribution in order to keep your body functioning properly and performing at its best.

 

How do you ensure your body has sufficient electrolytes before, during and after a training session or competition?
  • Consume foods that have higher concentrations of the vitamins and minerals your body needs, such as:
    • Potassium – bananas, spinach, white beans, dried apricots and squash
    • Calcium – dairy products such as yogurt and milk
    • Magnesium – green leafy vegetables, lentils, beans, brown rice and oatmeal 
    • Sodium – ramen noodles, olives, pickles or crackers 
  • Drink adequate amounts of water, 8 – 9 glasses per day (more if exercising in humid conditions)
    • Supplement with sports drinks or electrolyte powders – only consume after long bouts of heavy endurance training of 90 minutes or more

    Do I need to worry about sodium replacement?

    It depends on how much you sweat, how hot it is, humidity, and how long and how hard you are
    working out. When you exercise, you lose some sodium from sweat, but you are unlikely to deplete your body’s stores. Keep in mind that many health organizations recommend reducing sodium intake because the typical North American diet contains more sodium than the average person requires.

    Assume that the more you exercise, the more fluids and nutrients you are going to have to replace. Every person is different, with varying levels of fitness and physical activity. Most regular exercisers and athletes use nutrition guidelines to start out and from there, experiment to find out what works best for them.  

    References from the SIRC Collection:

    1. Clark N. Electrolytes: What Are They?. American Fitness. September 2010;28(5):66-67.
    Golden A, Tierney N. HYDRATION and EXERCISE go Hand in Hand. Volleyball. October 2011;22(8):22-23.
    2. Heaner M. To Salt or Not to Salt?: An update on sodium and how it affects health and exercise. IDEA Fitness Journal. March 2011;8(3):59-61.
    3. Hess J. Dehydration: Balancing Water and Electrolytes. Hughston Health Alert. Summer2007 2007;19(3):4.
    4. Houtkooper L. New guidelines on fluids. Swimming World & Junior Swimmer. October 1996;37(10):10.
    5. Nugent L. Sports Drinks. Modern Athlete & Coach. October 2012;50(4):17-18.
    6. Schnuer J. Electrolytes 101. Shape. September 2005;25(1):196.
    YOU DON’T NEED TO DRINK AS MUCH DURING WINTER WORKOUTS. Shape. January 2010;29(5):75.



    The information presented in SIRC blogs and SIRCuit articles is accurate and reliable as of the date of publication. Developments that occur after the date of publication may impact the current accuracy of the information presented in a previously published blog or article.