Electrolytes – why are they so important?

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Electrolytes are otherwise called mineral salts. These include sodium, potassium, magnesium and also chlorine. They are necessary for maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. This is not only about the total water content, but also about the amount of fluids accumulated in individual cells, including muscle. Their content is important for the proper functioning of the circulatory, respiratory and even digestive system. During intensive training sweat glands secrete large amounts of sweat, which cools, but at the same time increases the risk of dehydration, which is why electrolyte replenishment is very important.

 

The content of electrolytes

The right amount of electrolytes is extremely important in training because they indirectly affect performance. They support the efficient functioning of the circulatory and respiratory systems. Sodium and potassium have the ability to attract water. Depending on their distribution and whether they are in the intercellular space or in the cell itself, they can cause water displacement. Sodium and potassium ions inside the cell will cause it to swell due to the inflow of water. In turn, the higher concentration of these ions in the intercellular space affects the “escape” of water from the cells, which is manifested by its shrinkage. As a result, the ability to carry out biochemical reactions through it is reduced, because there is no environment necessary for their occurrence.

Sodium also has other advantages. It improves the taste of clean water, thanks to which people who avoid it drink water. In addition, sodium naturally increases the feeling of thirst by preventing dehydration. In a situation where we sweat intensively, the amount of water decreases, so the concentration of sodium increases causing a feeling of thirst. With the supply of water, the sodium concentration in the body is normalized, so the thirst is satisfied. As a result, electrolyte replenishment has a positive effect on water retention in the body, and electrolyte content is a key issue.

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The content of sugars

Contrary to general belief, it is not sodium that is responsible for absorbing water from the intestines, and sugars – including glucose. Diluted glucose solutions increase the adsorption of water from the small intestine to supplement its losses. In addition, this solution additionally supplements carbohydrates during training. However, it should be remembered that too high glucose levels will not only slow down the metabolism and reduce the process of replenishing the fluid deficit, but it will also affect the path that this fluid will pass through. In the case of excessive osmolality (associated with a high content of glucose) there is a much higher probability that the consumed liquid will be expelled. In a situation where the osmolality is low, the liquid with the addition of glucose passes into the small intestine, where it is absorbed by its cells and serves to hydrate them.

A similar effect is obtained in the case of beverages with the addition of glucose polymers, which are intermediates between simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Due to the fact that they are made of more than one glucose molecule, the same amount of glucose polymers will have a lower osmolality compared to simple sugars. As a result, the absorption of water from the intestine occurs without the risk of rapid expulsion of the fluid. The absorption path of the water then resembles a liquid with a low content of glucose. In addition, good results are not too sweet, because glucose polymers are deprived of it.

 

Carbonated or non-carbonated drinks?

As it turns out, whether the supplied beverage is carbonated or non-carbonated does not have a major impact on the degree of hydration. Both carbonated and non-carbonated drinks irrigate the body equally. However, it should be remembered that in people who have a tendency to hyperacidity, fizzy drinks can cause heartburn. In addition, carbonated drinks often cause a fast feeling of filling, making it harder to fill up the water deficit in the right amount. Therefore, the suggested option is to provide still water. On the other hand, carbonated water for some people has an additional value in the form of a refreshing sensation. The choice depends mainly on preferences and the awareness of possible feelings of this accompanying type of water does not have a major impact on the hydration level of the body.

 

Caffeine in sports drinks

The content of caffeine in sports drinks has many beneficial effects for training such as stimulation, improvement of efficiency, concentration, endurance, and delaying symptoms of fatigue. It has also been proven that the consumption of coffee stimulates the oxidation of fat fatty acids, and caffeine itself improves the replenishment of muscle glycogen after training. Unfortunately, this alkaloid also has a diuretic effect, therefore, eating it regardless of the form, it should be remembered that like the thein and guarana has a negative water balance. In practice, this means the need to supplement additional water, because some of it will be expelled much faster.

Posted on: October 29, 2018

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