Fulfilling a crucial component of your fueling in superior fashion
BY STEVE BORN
Most athletes are acutely aware of the need for fluids and calories during exercise. One area that oftentimes gets neglected or dismissed entirely is electrolytes. Without consistent replenishment of these vital minerals, a full one-third of your fueling plan is missing, and that mistake will ruin your workout or race just as surely as denying your body fluids and calories will. What’s more, this mistake will usually manifest as agonizing muscle cramping, an experience most of us would like to avoid.
Though there are many theories as to why muscle cramps happens, they most often involve improper hydration and/or improper electrolyte replenishment. Remember that cramping is a place far down the road of electrolyte depletion. It is your body’s painful way of saying, “Hey! I’m on empty! Resupply me now or I’m going to stop!” It’s like the oil light on the dash: you never want it to get that low.
That’s precisely why you shouldn't wait for cramps to remind you to take electrolytes. Just as you shouldn’t wait until you bonk before you consume calories or wait until you’re dehydrated before you replenish fluids, your fueling regimen should always include these essential minerals.
ELECTROLYTE SHORTAGE SYMPTOMS
Long before your day is ruined by full-fledged cramps, your body will give you a few subtle signs that trouble is near. Oftentimes, it’s just a twinge here and there, a bit of muscle fibrillation (twitching), or the sense that your running gait, swimming stroke, or pedal cadence is irregular and unsmooth. Speaking of irregular, if your heart doesn’t feel as though it’s beating rhythmically, that could also be a sign that your body needs electrolytic mineral support. If you’re suffering from a headache or experience dizziness during your workout or after, that too can be indicative that you’re running low. Signs of electrolyte imbalance or insufficiency can also be manifested in things you may not have thought of before, including any number of emotional responses such as irritability, lethargy, depression, anger, and more.
SALT ALONE IS NOT THE SOLUTION
Unfortunately, many athletes don’t understand that the body’s requirements are complex and focus only on salt (sodium chloride) intake. You need full-spectrum electrolyte replenishment that includes salt as well as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Optimal performance requires a consistent, adequate, and balanced supply of these important nutrients.
When athletes rely solely on salt, or if they consume too much salt at the expense of other electrolytic minerals, they neutralize and even shut off the physiological mechanisms that enable the body to recirculate—and thus conserve—its sodium reserves. Once the body detects that it is receiving too much sodium from an outside source (salty foods, salt tablets, or electrolyte products that contain excess sodium), the hormone aldosterone signals the kidneys to stop filtering and recirculating sodium, forcing the body to deplete it at greater rates. Meanwhile, another hormone, vasopressin, begins to predominate, causing undesired and unpleasant fluid retention.
ENDUROLYTES: SUPERIOR, FULL-SPECTRUM SUPPORT
Proper electrolyte replenishment during endurance exercise entails gradual, consistent intake incorporating ALL the electrolytes, not just sodium. It also requires consuming them in amounts that support but do not override normal body mechanisms.
Fortunately, Hammer Nutrition’s Endurolytes, Endurolytes Fizz, Endurolytes Extreme, and Endurolytes Extreme Powder do just that, and they’re ready to work for you! Our formulations are balanced, full-spectrum electrolyte products that fulfill the body’s electrolytic mineral requirements, thus optimizing specific bodily functions, enhancing endurance performance, and helping you avoid unpleasant issues associated with electrolyte imbalance or depletion. No matter what the weather throws at you, one of Hammer Nutrition’s Endurolytes products has you covered!