Thursday, April 25, 2024

Are electrolytes overrated? – Canadian Working Journal


You might want to drink these electrolyte-packed drinks throughout your coaching runs, proper? Current analysis has instructed in any other case–and that electrolytes don’t play the position inside train that many runners assume they do. Famend professor of train metabolism, Asker Jeukendrup, lately shared some data on My Sport Science summing up the position electrolytes play throughout train, and his findings are sufficient to have you ever rethink what you’re utilizing for hydration.

What are electrolytes and why do we’d like them?

Electrolytes are minerals that dissolve in water into their particular person, positively or negatively charged ions: Sodium: Na+ and Potassium: Ok+ Chloride: Cl- Magnesium: Mg2+, together with a mess of others. Sodium and chloride on the two that athletes lose most in sweat–however these losses are “regulated in response to sodium consumed within the weight loss program and up to date sweat and urine losses,” shares Jeukendrup.

We get most of our electrolytes from our weight loss program, and the overwhelming majority of runners (or athletes of any sort) aren’t exercising longer than 4 hours–the purpose at which electrolyte alternative could also be useful. Most electrolyte alternative drinks are focused on the common runner, nevertheless, giving complicated alerts as to the significance of replenishing electrolytes throughout each exercise.

Does the lack of sodium via sweat actually trigger issues like cramping?

These muscle cramps you will have skilled throughout a tough exercise have historically be chalked as much as sodium loss via sweat, however there’s little or no precise scientific analysis to show that’s the case.

“While sweat sodium losses throughout train differ considerably from person-to-person and day-to-day as a consequence of a spread of things, the last word want for changing sodium throughout train is to steadiness out fluid consumption and losses and preserve an acceptable osmolality [the concentration of dissolved particles], slightly than stopping an precise sodium deficit,” says Jeukendrup.


Analysis over the previous few a long time means that people have shops of sodium within the physique which can be sure to constructions within the pores and skin, muscle tissue and different tissues. This sodium doesn’t contribute to the physique’s fluid focus however is offered to be added to or launched again into the blood as required.

“The newest scientific view of cramping throughout train is that it’s almost certainly a posh syndrome, with a number of various factors that may result in adjustments within the nerves that management muscle contraction,” explains Jeukendrup.

The takeaway

Whereas there actually must be extra analysis carried out on this space, Jeukeundrup means that the message round electrolytes “as it’s portrayed within the media and by many firms is extra hype than it’s backed by scientific proof.”

“Taking sodium throughout train can scale back the autumn in blood osmolality and scale back (however not remove) the impact of aggressive fluid alternative on the danger of creating hyponatremia,” he provides. (Hyponatremia is a uncommon situation that happens when athletes in endurance occasions develop an abnormally low focus of sodium of their blood.)

“Nevertheless, solely when athletes train for greater than 4 hours, and are more likely to drink to exchange greater than 70 per cent of their sweat losses does the method of sweat sodium testing and focused alternative seem crucial,” he explains. “Even then, solely these athletes with above common sodium concentrations of their sweat (>1g/L) are more likely to have to particularly give attention to sodium alternative throughout train.”

For many of us, electrolyte replenishment will occur naturally via our weight loss program.


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