Have you ever wondered why you need an optimum level of calcium, sodium, potassium or magnesium during bodybuilding? Okay, we know, our body needs minerals and the right amount of such minerals can be sourced through supplements etc.
But, what is the science (even the scientific term) of it or why do we need it at an optimum level especially for our fitness regimen?
I know you are a fitness enthusiast, like me, and therefore, curious to know now. So, today we discuss what is electrolyte, electrolyte meaning and understand, what does electrolyte do to our body so that we do not underplay it or overdo it.
Now, get ready to dwell on the concept of what is meant by the electrolyte. Through this article, I will try and help you find answers to unique questions like why avoid an excess of water or laxatives, and even sports drink for that matter.
What is Electrolyte
The electrolyte is the collective term for chemical elements or minerals including sodium, calcium, magnesium and potassium, which we all are familiar with. Yet, I have noticed that people are acquainted with it, of course; but they are not cued to the topic.
Electrolytes convert into ions which initiate positive or negative charge in the human body, in turn, affecting our cells, tissues, muscles, blood level or pressure etc. Thus, the electrolyte composition in our body is important to regulate our nerves, cells, and muscles.
Apart from chemicals and minerals, electrolytes compose salts such as chloride and bicarbonate in the human body. It is another important fact about electrolytes; that it monitors the water levels in the body, keeping our body hydrated. You already know how dehydration can kill the living cells.
Similar Article: Why Cricketers Need Right Hydration
What does Electrolyte do
Now that you know-what is meant by the electrolyte, it is important to understand what does it do inside the human body.
Electrolytes are important chemical components for the body’s blood chemistry. They also have an electric charge like properties and initiate muscle action or other important body processes, especially regarding the blood flow, urine and body fluids.
I have so far mentioned the primary electrolytes in our body-calcium, potassium, sodium, etc. However, there are many types of electrolytes present in us and together, they perform various functions. Passing electrical impulses in neuron or muscle cells or, balancing protein chemical structures, are few examples of what does electrolyte do.
It also helps in endocrine functioning, which is the biological act of releasing hormones into the blood stream.
A key point attached to electrolytes is its primary role in controlling the water movement inside the body. The electrolytes in the plasma (they dissolve in the body fluids) regulate water movement between the cells and thus, the whole body.
In the exact fitness context, intense workouts can quickly induce water loss or induce dehydration. Only electrolytes, in other words, drinking lot of fluids (your source of electrolytes) can prevent a health breakdown like dehydration. A hydrated body is always water balanced (I explain it below) and free of health problems like muscle cramps or weak muscles, low BP and feeling excessive thirst.
So, make sure you have the primary electrolytes including, calcium, sodium and potassium as a regular part of your diet. Food and supplements will help you.
Ionised (electrolyte) Calcium, for one, is important for regulating cell function, monitoring the heart beat and treating problems like blood clotting. Useful sources are nuts, fish with edible bones, and calcium extracted tofu. It is different from normal calcium level.
Having said that, there is a concept called sensible electrolyte and water intake. Let us understand more about balancing electrolyte levels and why it is required.
How to maintain your Electrolyte Levels
During and after heavy workouts, our electrolytes level drop as we sweat. Prolonged exercise also means water loss in the body. At the same time, we secrete sweat which heats our body and as a result, we expose ourselves to the risk of acute dehydration. Sweating means sodium, potassium and plasma (body fluids) loss from our body.
It can dampen our performance.
In addition, less or excessive water in our body can cause dehydration or over dehydration. An overdose of water means biological disturbance in the processing of electrolytes (minerals and salts) inside us. Salts, for example, need to be adequately dissolved in the body to convert them into ions. Excessive water means you are excreting more in the form of urine and thus, loosing electrolytes.
Similar Article: How Superhydration Helps Achieve Fat Loss
To maintain the right electrolyte balance, we need to replace a number of fluids lost during heavy exercising. This can be achieved through including dependable sources of electrolytes as a part of your diet. Sodium and potassium should be specifically taken care of.
It is important to replenish electrolytes and replace it with body fluids. Sweating is an important part of our exercising performance. To prevent a state of dehydration, it is advisable to up the fluid intake and most of it can be achieved through water for gym-goers.
Do not underestimate the power of water to rehydrate your body. But before that, do not underrate the effect of dehydration on your health. During dehydration, your blood thickens and it can affect your heart or cause muscle cramps as it disrupts the blood flow in the body. Besides, a nutrient our carried through the blood stream to reach your tissues and muscles.
Also, include a plant-based diet to improve your electrolyte level. Try banana, coconut, raisins to source potassium. Consume more salt.
Before I end, what you need to know is how much water is sufficient. For strenuous workouts, 2 litres of water is what you need on an average day. Depending upon your personal fitness schedule, you can increase or reduce your consumption of water.
You know how water helps to maintain a cleanse system and now you have another reason to drink more. It is best to ignore the calorie laden sports drink for a while to enjoy the natural, pure and mineral rich benefits of water. Also, it costs less, so why not be a smarter gym.