Supplemental Electrolytes For Runners – Dehydration Issues

Becoming dehydrated or mineral deprived is one of the most common ways people sabotage themselves when running. Not only does dehydration make you lose energy at a much faster rate, it can give you headaches, muscle cramps, dizziness and fatigue. Many people don’t realize the necessity of proper hydration and electrolyte balance. But it cannot be denied that these play a vital role in maximizing your run, not to mention in maintaining your health.

One thing you can do to remain hydrated is to drink water. Many put water to good use as a necessary part of each fitness regiment, as well as their daily life. Many experts believe that a 2 % weight loss of bodily fluids can lead to a 20-30 % reduction in physical performance. If you are planning to run, you should actually drink a lot of fluids a few hours in advance. That way, your body will be hydrated when you begin. Drinking water during a workout will replenish the fluids you are losing, averting all those nasty side effects, and give you a small energy boost.

The only downside to water is that it can deplete your bodily minerals. Drinking too much water and nothing else can dilute the salt and minerals inside your cells, disrupting their normal functioning. When undergoing extremely strenuous physical activity, it can be necessary to use electrolyte replacement. It can also be beneficial to do so if running or jogging when malnourished, for instance if you are on a deprivation diet. Sports drinks such as Gatorade, Powerade and Lucozade help to replenish the body’s supply of electrolytes, as well as to provide a substantial energy boost in the form of simple carbohydrates.

Another, less common, electrolyte replacement method is the use of supplementary capsules. One popular brand is the Hammer Nutrition Endurolyte Capsules. They contain many important minerals depleted by running. These can be useful as a low-sugar alternative to sports drinks. But when using these, it is important to consult a physician or nutritionist, as each person’s individual needs vary greatly in this area.

But electrolyte replacement has its downside as well. At the level of physical exertion that most people, or even athletes, operate at, electrolyte replacement is unnecessary. It can even be harmful. Most people consume many times more sodium than they need during the course of a day, and when they sweat, they give off excess sodium. Pumping more back into their bodies can be counter-productive. Also, sports drinks are usually high in sugar, which can contribute to tooth decay and can sabotage your efforts if weight-loss is your goal. Ultimately, each person’s level of fitness and chemical composition vary greatly. Some people will benefit the most from sports drinks, some from electrolyte capsules, and many more from just plain water. Unless you are exercising for more than three hours at high levels of exertion, water will be quite sufficient in meeting your bodily needs.

Kerry F Pettigrew