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Nutrition and Diet

What is Electrolyte Imbalance, Symptoms & Treatment

We need minerals, vitamins, calcium, supplements to stay in good shape, especially, if we are planning to get that sculpted, six-pack abs very soon.

But what we don’t likely know is, how a deficiency of the minerals or calcium, can severly affect our gym performance.

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To stay in shape and be gym ready always, you need to know the minute details, so that there are no unintentional regrets later, right? Today, we dwell on the topic-what is an electrolyte imbalance and how it slowly but steadily deter our workout schedule.

What Elecytrolyte is?

Before we begin, it is important for me to again mention that the electrolyte (inos) is a term used to define certain chemical (charged up) elements and minerals of the human body. In short, ionised sodium, calcium, pottasium, calcium, etc, regulate your body functions.

The electrolyte substance is present in our blood, urine and body fluids, to regulate our blood chemistry, muscle performance and other body functions like kidney or heart activity.

Related Article: What is Electrolyte and What does it do

So, What is Electrolyte Imbalance?

Electrolyte

From a fitness perspective, it is the electrolyte influence on maintaining fluid balance which interests me the most.

Body fluids help in maintaining the water content, regulate body temperature, and ease blood circulation and maintain good digestion. Electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, glucose or calcium are present in high content in blood plasma, which in turn, helps the body to perform essential functions. Thus, any deficiency of electrolyte can disrupt our routine of physical activity.

In fact, abnormalities in the levels of sodium, potassium or calcium are crucial and the most common type of electrolyte imbalance.

But, What Causes an Electrolyte Imbalance?

There are many reasons for electrolyte loss from our body. If you work out for an hour, you can dehydrate because you sweat a lot. Sweat loss means your body is losing a lot of water and sodium. So, you need to have a lot of water to replenish yourself.

But, what is the right quantity of water, because if you drink too much water, then you urinate frequently and loose electrolytes like sodium, for example. Loss of sodium means muscle cramps, fatigue, dizziness, besides other symptoms.

Other reasons for electrolyte imbalance include an overdose of laxative, severe diarrhea or ingestion and like I mentioned, anything which causes an excessive elimination of minerals from your body.

To sum up, these are some reasons for electrolyte imbalance

  • Loss of body fluids due to continued vomiting, diarrhea, or sweating from high fever
  • Lack of vitamins and minerals in your diet
  • Stomach disorders or certain medications
  • Hormonal disorders
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Symptoms of Electrolyte Imbalance

Depending upon the type of electrolyte disrupted, some of the common electrolyte imbalance symptoms include:

  • Muscle spasm, weakness, numbness, fatigue or tremors
  • Irregular heartbeat, nervous system disorders or confusion
  • Change in BP
  • Bone disorders

Now, I will talk about these symptoms relating to certain types of electrolyte imbalance and how to initiate the electrolyte imbalance treatment or manage the symptoms. I am going to pick few examples, which seem important from the workout perspective. If you wish to refer to more information, then use this link-  Types of electrolyte imbalance.

Management of Electrolyte Imbalance

I continue with my water dosage, as mentioned above. For endurance exercises, you need the right consumption of water, so that you don’t dehydrate your body, from the lack of water or due to excessive drinking of it.

So, how much water to drink? The answer is simple and varies.

Depending on your fitness schedule and the level of endurance and again, depending on how much you sweat, you need to keep your body hydrated enough. It is important to monitor your urine colour as dark-yellowish colour means your body lacks enough water.

If you feel thirsty, it means you should have more water and even if you are not, you should have water. The basic rule is to keep your body hydrated after one hour of exercise.

Have 90-100 ml of water (2-3 hours before exercising); 240 ml before warm-up and 250-300 ml during the workout and 220-240 ml after exercising.

A sodium deficiency, because of loss of water or vomiting and diarrhea, needs to be dealt with a lot of care. Lack of sodium leads to muscle cramps, fatigue, dizziness, etc.

If you have too much water, it results in a condition termed as hyponatremia, meaning there is less sodium content in the body fluids because excess water dilutes the level of sodium in the blood.

It is bad for your circulatory system and in extreme, can put your body in shock. Likewise, too much of sodium is not good as it results in bloating due to excessive water retention in the body tissues.

What you need is 1,500 milligrams or 3.75 grams of salt daily. One teaspoon of salt is 6 grams, so you need about half a teaspoon of salt every day.  

Another good example is potassium. It is needed to store carbs to provide energy to the muscles or to monitor muscle contraction. A lack of it clearly affects your nervous and muscular system. You lose potassium through sweat and urination and a loss of it can affect your energy and endurance as it affects the muscles.

The recommended intake is 4.7 gm per day and the best sources are fruits and vegetables in your diet.

Calcium content in blood is crucial. Low calcium in the blood, for example, can cause infection, affecting the body organs and parts through the mechanism of blood circulation. Any disruption in blood flow can affect our muscles or lead to numbness and dizziness.

Likewise, the rise in calcium level in the blood can result in dehydration because it exerts pressure on the kidney to excrete more water. It can create serious health disorders like kidney stones as well.

Normal calcium levels vary between 2000 and 2500 mg.

Conclusion

Taking calcium or sodium is another matter. We know calcium strengthens our bones, but how much of calcium we need every day, is important for the body mechanism. This process of calcium regulation inside our body is what defines electrolyte the best. Similarly, there are other components of the electrolyte that needs to be taken care of.

To be electrolyte efficient, it is important for us to understand the daily dose of its components we need and make the optimal use of these charged substances in our body. Next time, think electrolyte before you plan your nutrient chart, will you?

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Keyur Malani

The author Keyur Malani

Keyur Malani is a certified content writer who finds his true passion in fitness and bodybuilding. Apart from his contribution to Myfitfuel blog, he also guides people in their diet and training routines. When he's not writing articles and breaking Deadlift PRs, he's learning life lessons on brain pickings and cooking his post workout meals.
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