While most people believe that adopting a healthier lifestyle is pretty much straightforward, only a few of them are aware of what that entails. Becoming more physically active means selecting a full set of additional practices, including nutrition, proper rest, sufficient hydration and a regular schedule, depending on your biological needs and capabilities. At Vitalyte Sports Nutrition we are concerned not only with promoting the benefits of sports, but also the means to increase performance, stamina, and durability.
Two words perfectly define those concepts: electrolyte replacement. Electrolytes are the active agents that, when mingled with the water present at the cellular level, create an electrically charged solution. The intracellular solution contains mainly potassium, while the extracellular one has sodium, both of these being among the essential types of electrolytes, along with chloride, hydrogen phosphate, calcium, magnesium, and hydrogen carbonate.
What is a water-electrolyte imbalance?
There are two types of dangers with regards to an electrolyte imbalance: dehydration and overhydration or water intoxication. Many people aren’t even aware of the fact that water poisoning is a real affection with potentially deadly consequences, which occurs soon after extreme water intakes. But overhydration is rarer than dehydration, which manifests in various degrees and with multiple symptoms.
But dehydration too can become deadly if not treated in a timely fashion. While in most cases dehydration can be easily identified and equally easy to counter, in others - not so much. Usually, we tend to dehydrate when losing large quantities of body water over shorter periods of time. A loss of more than 4-5 liters of water over several hours could necessitate electrolyte replacement, depending on what is causing the water loss.
Athletes especially are prone to becoming dehydrated due to intense physical activity, where body water is being eliminated at increasingly faster rates than usual. Environmental temperature also plays a significant role in the process. One of the main problems with dehydration in athletes is that it will significantly decrease physical performance. Since the muscles lack the proper hydration, they will immediately begin to cramp and contract involuntarily, rendering the athlete unable to continue his activity.
Muscle cramps are common during intense and prolonged physical activities, but that’s not the only danger.
The brain will also suffer from an electrolyte deficiency, inducing symptoms like fatigue, muscle weakness, dizziness, headaches and even sleepiness and increased irritability. These will all affect both your performance during physical activity sessions and your daily, healthy functioning.
In typical cases, drinking enough fluids will suffice in dealing with the symptoms of dehydration. But as an athlete, continually dealing with intense and demanding physical sessions, you might need something more than that. In this case, electrolyte replacement is essential in maintaining the brain functioning within the standard parameters, as well as allowing muscles to deliver peak performance when it matters the most.
We, at Vitalyte Sports Nutrition, know how essential electrolytes are, not just for top athletes, but for regular individuals as well. They are an important part of adopting a healthier lifestyle and should be considered a crucial addition to any effective nutritional plan.