Electrolytes. They are known to help athletes push harder and recover faster and even help cure the occasional hangover. This week we look at how electrolyte supplements work, when to use them, and how to concoct your own electrolyte drink. Electrolytes are electrically charged molecules that moderate muscle contraction.
Above are the 5 types of electrolytes present in the body.
There is ample evidence to support performance benefits with the use of electrolytes. Although the activities and electrolyte amounts vary between studies, it is clear that replacing electrolytes either with balanced food or a drink helps recovery. Electrolytes are most important for training sessions and events that are over 60 minutes. Prolonged activity creates imbalance by using up electrolytes in energy producing reactions and forming water. Take a portion of electrolytes during and after your workout.
Electrolytes may be beneficial for treating muscle cramps and heat injury that are particularly common with high intensity, prolonged exercise as in a bootcamp or obstacle race. As a muscle contracts repeatedly, contraction factors are moved across cell barriers as energy is converted and released. This action can create an imbalance in the tissue and result in muscle spasm. If left, overworked muscles become tight and less able to perform work. Clearly, this is bad news if you want to perform well.
Electrolytes may also be effective for treating tension headaches. Often times, water intake can improve the achy pain of a headache. Adding electrolytes to water allows more water to be captured and stored in the tissues. The benefits have been variable and may depend on the cause of the headache.
Electrolyte supplements are available from some companies, but can also be made from basic ingredients in your kitchen. Equal parts of salt and potassium chloride can be mixed with three times the amount of sugar or honey to provide balanced hydration.
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