Is your shirt drenched by the time you finish your run? Do you constantly wipe sweat from your forehead while you’re in the gym? We all view sweat as a sign of a good workout, but there’s more to it than that.
To grasp its importance and what it means for your body, you must understand what is lost in sweat--electrolytes.
Did you know that 99% of your sweat is water? That’s why it is so important to continue to hydrate during and after your workout. With nearly all sweat being water, you might wonder, “does sweat contain electrolytes? The answer is yes!
The other 1% of your body’s sweat contains these critical particles, but with a number that small, do you really need electrolytes? It might seem like an insignificant amount, but electrolytes play critical roles in your body. Therefore, it is crucial that you replenish them.
If you would like to learn more about electrolytes and how they aid your body in recovery after a workout, keep reading!
What Are Electrolytes?
Electrolytes are minerals that are essential to your health. Most of your body’s electrolytes are sodium and chloride. However, potassium, magnesium, and calcium are also present. All of these minerals are essentially salts, which explains why sweating leads to salty skin.
What makes these salts so important?
When you add any of these minerals to water, they dissolve and break down into small particles with electrical charges. These particles are called ions.
Electrolytes play critical roles in your body, including moving water throughout your cells. They also aid in sparking nerve impulses, balancing acidity, and regulating muscle contraction.
Without them, your body will experience dehydration. Dehydration can show itself through dry mouth, headache, dizziness, cramps, weakness, and nausea.
Therefore, it’s crucial that you have the right balance of electrolytes not just for recovery after a workout but for your body’s general health and performance.
How Many Electrolytes Are Lost in Sweat?
We know that about 1% of nutrients lost in sweat are electrolytes, but what does that really mean? In order to understand how many electrolytes you will need to replenish your body’s supply, we need to figure out how many you are losing every time you workout.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to say for sure. The number of electrolytes that you lose in sweat varies greatly depending on several factors, including by not limited to your:
- Work Rate
- Body Weight
- Environmental Temperature
- Fitness Level
To give you a better idea, however, we can look at the amount of sodium the average salt loss in sweat. According to experts, the average person loses about 1 liter of sweat per hour, so how much sodium is lost in 1 liter of sweat? It could be anywhere from .2-12.5 grams per liter, but most will lose about 1 gram of sodium per hour.
What’s the best way to aid your body in recovery?
Note: Those calculations simply show how much sodium is lost in sweat. They don’t account for the other minerals. You will have to take those into consideration on your own, but remember that sodium and chloride typically exist in your body in larger quantities. That means you lose fewer grams of the other electrolytes.
Are Electrolytes Good After a Workout?
Salt replenishment after exercise is a critical step in your body’s recovery from strenuous exercise. In fact, you shouldn’t wait until you are finished. You should consume electrolytes during workout routines as well.
If you don’t properly hydrate yourself during or after a workout, you risk illness and injury. Both of which can halt your progress right in its tracks. If you want to continue to improve your body with every workout, you need to make sure that you replenish salts after exercise.
The following are just a few of the benefits that you can expect when you replace electrolytes lost in sweat:
- Prevent Dehydration: Your body’s electrolyte levels help retain fluids so that you don’t sweat excessively and dehydrate yourself during workouts.
- Improved Muscle Function: When you replenish electrolytes during exercise, you help your muscles contract properly. Without them, your muscles can’t relax, so you end up with cramps.
- Increased Blood Flow: More specifically, electrolytes promote proper function in the most important muscle, your heart. As a result, your blood can move through your body and reach all of your extremities.
- Joint Lubrication: Whether you are running or squatting, your joints go through a lot. Keeping them lubricated can provide you with a cushion and prevent injuries.
- Stable Body Temps: In addition, electrolytes help your body maintain its temperature. This benefit is significant for individuals working out in the heat and humidity.
Do Electrolytes Help Muscle Recovery?
Electrolytes and exercise should also go hand in hand because of their role in muscle recovery. Since your muscles are 75% water, electrolytes become critical to the repair process. As we touched on earlier, electrolytes aid water movement throughout all of your cells. Since your muscles are primarily made up of water, they will need more hydration as they repair themselves.
That’s not all.
Electrolytes play a role in your body’s muscle contractions. If you don’t hydrate appropriately with electrolytes before or after workout routines, you risk muscle cramps. In most cases, they are annoying and painful, but typically not a cause for damage. They can slow down your muscle recovery process, though, so it is best to avoid them. More severe cases could cause muscle strain, which would be more long-lasting damage to repair.
Why Do We Have to Replace Electrolytes Through Things We Eat and Drink?
Though we lose the majority of electrolytes in sweat, it’s not the only outlet. Your body loses water faster and loses electrolytes through urine and breathing as well. Additionally, through this process, your body loses sodium too which helps us to stay hydrated. Illness can also deplete your body’s electrolyte supply.
Electrolytes aren’t something that your body can restore on its own. Therefore, you need to eat and drink the right foods and beverages to regain your body’s supply after sweating electrolytes out. The average person usually consumes enough sodium and other minerals to replace whatever electrolytes they use on a daily basis.
For athletes, it’s a different story.
As we covered, strenuous workouts lead to more sweat. More sweat means that your body isn’t going to be able to keep up with your electrolyte loss. If you’re putting in the extra work in the gym, you need to consume the best electrolytes for workout recovery. You can get the minerals through the food you eat, but most athletes choose electrolyte drink powder for the gym to speed up recovery.
How to Replace Salts After Sweating: Changing Your Diet
There are many natural ways you can incorporate more electrolytes into your diet. If you spend a lot of time sweating it out in the gym, we recommend the following foods and beverages:
- Spinach, Kale, Collards, and Other Leafy Greens
- Other Vegetables Like Avocados, Potatoes, and Squash
- Bananas, Dried Apricots, and Other High-Potassium Fruits
- Dairy Products
- Breakfast Cereals
- Nuts & Seeds
- Coconut Water
- Tomato Juice
- Soy Milk
- And More!
Best Way to Replace Electrolytes After Exercise
After seeing all the ways your diet impacts your electrolyte consumption, you might be wondering, “do I need electrolytes in my water?” The answer is yes.
It’s simply not practical to replenish your body’s electrolytes with food while working out. Imagine trying to set a PR for your 5K time while eating cereal or kale. It sounds like a disaster, right?
Adding a powder to your regular water bottle is the best way to restore electrolytes after exercise. These powder drinks are sometimes referred to as oral rehydration solutions (ORS). Drinking ORS during workout regimens doesn’t just provide you with all the nutrients you need to keep going. The powders are also easier to include in your workout.
Why couldn’t you just rehydrate with one of those colorful sports drinks? While they boast electrolyte benefits, most of them are also packed full of sugar.
When you choose the right electrolyte powder, you can ensure that your body is getting the perfect balance of minerals. The drink shouldn’t contain unnecessary ingredients or extra sugar if you want the best results.
The Best Sports Drink for The Gym
The sports drink market is flooded with products that claim to have the best ingredients, flavor, and results. However, some are far better than others. As we briefly mentioned before, most bottled sports drinks are packed with sugars and other artificial ingredients for taste, but because of that, they compromise on nutritional value.
Even when you look at ORS, it’s easy to see that some products are better than others. If you feel unsure of which product is the best for electrolyte loss during exercise, you should look at Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel.
What makes our product so special?
At Tailwind Nutrition, we ensure that our mixes include everything you need and nothing you don’t. We leave out all of the artificial ingredients and provide you with a light, clean-tasting drink packed with all of the nutrients you need to keep pushing through your workout.
The focus of our Endurance Fuel is replenishing your body’s electrolytes. That’s exactly why we worked so hard to create the perfect blend of minerals. Each mix contains sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Our ideal balance speeds up the absorption so that you can continuously replace the electrolytes you sweat out.
Our mixes also ensure that you get plenty of water along with electrolytes. The powder is mixed in 20-24 oz of water, and the minerals help your body absorb it better for increased hydration.
Last but not least, our drinks provide you with critical calories through dextrose and sucrose, which is precisely what your body was designed to absorb. Since we use these natural ingredients, the fuel can enter your bloodstream more quickly without presenting you with any digestive issues.
Let’s Sum It All Up
We know that digging into the details of sports nutrition isn’t always the most exciting topic, but it’s essential to your overall health. After all, any illness or injury can immediately stop all of your great progress in its tracks. We hope you’ve learned a thing or two about electrolyte loss in sweat. You should now be able to answer the following questions:
- What are electrolytes?
- What is lost when you sweat?
- How much sodium do you burn working out?
- How to replace salts after sweating?
- Should you drink electrolytes before or after a workout?
- How can Tailwind Nutrition help with replacing salt after exercise?
Whether you need a sports drink to give you endurance or help you recover, Tailwind Nutrition has you covered. We recommend trying our Recovery or Endurance Mixes to see which product best fits your fitness and nutrition goals. Our best sellers bundle is a great way to sample the mixes.