Electrolytes help to power your body. So, how do you know when you need electrolytes? There are a few things to consider to ensure that your body is getting the right amount of electrolytes each day.

If you’re working out, you’re likely to have a water bottle alongside you. And that is always a good idea when you exercise. But, should you have more than just water in your drink bottle?

Whenever you sweat or lose a lot of fluids, you’re not only losing water but you’re also losing electrolytes. Electrolytes are the minerals that help deliver fluids to the cells throughout your body to help you function correctly. Electrolytes help everything from brain function right through to muscle health. Electrolytes aren’t the only thing that makes your body function but, they do help to make your body run more efficiently. There are a few things to be aware of to help you understand when you may have an electrolyte imbalance or whether your electrolytes are too low.

You are exercising for a long time

If you are exercising for up to an hour, water is generally the best thing for you to drink. But, If you are exercising for longer than an hour, especially if you are doing something that is high intensity, then a sports drink or an electrolyte supplement is probably your best bet. High-intensity workouts for longer than an hour are likely to make you sweat and lose more electrolytes compared to someone who is doing a quick 30-minute workout. 

A sports drink or an electrolyte supplement is ideal, but make sure you choose something that is low in sodium and provides you with the right amount of electrolytes for your needs. Some sports drinks high in sugar and are lacking some of the vital minerals you require for your workout. So it’s always best to have a look at the label before drinking any sugary sports drinks.

You sweat a lot

Are you ever at the gym in a group exercise and noticed that you’re sweating more than your peers? Everyone sweats differently and some people who may be larger athletes or simply are just a heavy sweater will often find that they require electrolytes a lot more than other people. The most obvious sign of whether you sweat a lot is that you have a lot of excess sweat on your skin or your clothes compared to others who are exercising alongside you. If your skin also feels gritty or chalky after a workout or you see a thin layer of white on your skin, this may indicate that there is salt coming through your pores which means that you may not be hydrated enough from water alone. Staying hydrated during your workout is very important so if you find that you do sweat a lot or you are ending up with salt on your skin, grab a hydration drink or electrolyte supplement instead of water.

You don’t feel like water helps you enough

When it comes to your health, it’s always important to listen to your body as it will often tell you when things aren’t quite right. Some people don’t feel right when they drink water alone after a workout. You may have muscle cramps, fatigue, headaches, or feel nauseous which are all signs of dehydration. If you are drinking a decent amount of water after a workout and during your workout, and you still don’t feel like you’re being hydrated enough, you may need to increase your electrolyte intake. 

If you still feel that you’re not feeling right after a workout even with an electrolyte supplement, you may want to consider increasing your potassium intake throughout the day. Think about introducing coconut water, bananas, yoghurt, sweet potatoes and avocados into your diet which are all rich in electrolytes and potassium.

You are exercising in the heat

Australian weather conditions can be quite extreme at the best of times. If you’re exercising for a long period and it’s the middle of the Australian summer, there is a high chance that you need electrolytes. Not only can you lose electrolytes through your sweat from exercise, but your body core temperature is likely to rise in extreme heat which is also going to make you sweat even more. Therefore, you may lose even more electrolytes. Always listen to your body when working out in hot or humid weather. If you feel like you’re getting dizzy or are not feeling right, always take a break and ensure that you’re getting enough fluids throughout your workout.

Get advice from your doctor

If you’re unsure whether you require an electrolyte supplement, have a chat with your doctor about your needs. They will be able to assess how often and how long you do a workout for. If your doctor believes that you may be losing an excessive amount of electrolytes through your working out or your daily routine, they will be able to discuss with you some of the best electrolyte supplements to help you.