Electrolyte drinks provide energy and fluids as well as the electrolytes. The energy is in the form of glucose, a type of sugar which if you are doing intense workouts might be a good option. Bear in mind though commercial electrolyte drinks can be high in calorie and sugar counts. When you are thirsty you probably won’t check the nutrition label first. They can be very, very high in sugar.
So do I need to drink electrolytes? Basic answer – yes. You lose electrolytes through your sweating and through your intestinal and urinary tract. So you can run low from physical exertion, but also because of your diet or drinking habits, the climate, stress, or illness. So if you are exercising and sweating or not looking after yourself as well as you should you might want to consider a top up.
Electrolyte balance is crucial for our body to function. The main electrolytes in the body are calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium, which are really macrominerals. An electrolyte imbalance can cause elevated potassium levels which could lead to cardiac arrhythmia, while a decrease in extracellular potassium can cause paralysis, excessive extracellular sodium which causes fluid retention and decreased calcium can lead to muscle spasms. As you can see it is important stuff.
The next part is research. You need to read the label on the bottle. Many drinks don’t offer the balance of electrolytes and are mostly sugar to give you a lift. Look for isotonic drinks because they aim at containing the essential salts and minerals (electrolytes) in the same concentration as in the body to replace those salts and minerals lost from sweating during vigorous exercise.
So what does this all mean. If you are working out hard and you sweat a lot you may be lowering your electrolytes. If you try taking an electrolyte drink see if you feel or perform better. Then you can decide, it’s all up to you.