Does Your Body Need Glucose to Absorb Electrolytes?
How many times have you seen sugar portrayed negatively in the sports and nutrition world? Enough times to make you think that sugar-free and low-sugar products are the healthier alternatives?
While we aren’t going to try to convince you that excessive amounts of cakes and cookies are good for you, we do want to open your mind to the idea that sugar might not be as bad as it’s made out to be.
You’ve probably heard that moderation is key when it comes to creating a balanced diet. That’s especially true when we are talking about sugar, but it’s about more than satisfying that sweet tooth craving.
Sugar doesn’t just taste good. It can be really good for you! Most people only focus on the negatives of sugar while completely ignoring the hydration benefits that it has to offer. That’s right—a little sugar can go a long way to help athletes after a long workout.
If you still aren’t sold on the possibility that sugar can benefit your health, we encourage you to read on. In this article, you’ll learn more about the hydrating benefits of glucose as we cover the following topics:
- What is Glucose?
- Do Sugar and Hydration Go Together?
- What Are Electrolytes?
- Why Are Electrolytes Good?
- How Much Electrolytes Should I Drink?
- Does Water Replace Electrolytes?
- Benefits of Drinking Salt and Sugar Water
- What Is Electrolyte Water?
- Is Electrolyte Powder Good for You?
What is Glucose?
If you want to make sure you are getting all of the health benefits, you need to choose the right sugars. Though there are several different forms of sugars, they are not all created equal. They are all digested and absorbed differently. Some are absorbed quickly while others take longer. When they sit in your stomach too long, they can make you feel sick while working out.
Of the different forms, glucose is the body's preferred source of carb-based energy. This is because it is a simple sugar that can easily be absorbed right into your bloodstream. That’s why it can raise your blood sugar much faster than other forms of sugar. It’s also the reason why blood glucose tests are so necessary to keep the optimal blood pressure.
In a healthy person’s body, glucose absorption is taken into the small intestine’s lining. From there, it can make its way right into your bloodstream. The blood sugar increase sends a message to your body to release insulin. Without enough insulin, the glucose won’t be able to enter your cells, which is where it gets to work.
Glucose that does make it into your cells can be used to create energy immediately. However, there are also cases where it is stored in your muscles for future use in the form of glycogen. This part is especially important for endurance athletes, but we’ll go into more detail about that later.
How Does Glucose Impact Hydration?
Water isn’t the only thing your body needs if you want to rehydrate quickly. Glucose does more than just provide your body with energy. It also plays a role in hydration. We know that sounds like a gimmick, but let us explain.
As we mentioned before, the small intestine plays a key role in glucose transport. It also happens to be a critical part of sodium transport, which is a key electrolyte that helps your body hydrate faster. These two transport systems work together as a co-transport system.
How does this work?
The wall of your small intestine is lined with transporter proteins. When the proteins come in contact with the perfect 2:1 ratio of sodium to glucose, they activate. Think of it as having a special code to unlock a door, the 2:1 ratio being the code and the transporter proteins being the door. The right combination of sodium and glucose activates the transporter proteins, which then pump the two nutrients into your bloodstream.
Without glucose, sodium won’t be absorbed into your body as quickly. Therefore, the addition of glucose speeds up the absorption process for both nutrients.
As an electrolyte, sodium is responsible for helping your body absorb water into its cells as well. When water finds areas in your body that have a higher concentration of glucose and sucrose, it uses osmosis to move into the bloodstream with the nutrients.
Your body can absorb both sodium, glucose, and water faster. The electrolyte absorption means that your body can rehydrate more quickly too.
What Are Electrolytes?
Now you know that electrolytes like sodium play a role in hydration, but what are they? Do you need an electrolyte solution in your diet?
By definition, electrolytes are essential minerals that create an electrical charge when dissolved in water. These electrical charges are called ions, and they are vital to many of your body’s most important functions.
Since these electrolytes are primarily found in your body’s fluids, you lose most of them through sweat and urine, but you can also lose them through illnesses that cause diarrhea and vomiting.
What minerals are considered electrolytes?
Technically, 14 different minerals are classified as electrolytes, and they can be found throughout several living systems. If we are talking about the human body, however, there are six essential electrolytes that we should focus on, and they include:
Is Salt an Electrolyte?
Are you wondering why salt isn’t on the list? You’ve probably heard of salt referred to as an important electrolyte, and that’s because it is. The chemical compound of salt is Sodium Chloride, both of which you will notice are listed above. Therefore, when you consume salt, you are getting a 1:1 ratio of both sodium and chloride.
What Are Electrolytes Good For?
Each of the different minerals plays a different role in your body’s functions. Therefore, the answer to the question, “are electrolytes good for you?” is yes. Although, some people wonder, “if salt is bad for you, are electrolytes bad for you too?” The answer is no, but it goes back to the idea of moderation.
If you consume too many electrolytes, your body can experience some health problems. You must keep them balanced if you want to enjoy the many benefits, such as:
Improved Muscle Function
- Your muscles rely heavily on magnesium, potassium, and calcium to function properly. These electrolytes work together to make sure that your muscles both contract and relax to avoid muscle cramps. This is especially important for your heart muscle, as these electrolytes make it pump properly.
Faster Nutrient Absorption
- As we covered when we discussed the importance of combining sugar and sodium, different electrolytes help your body absorb other nutrients. They also help your cells turn those nutrients into energy so that all of your various organs and systems can work.
Better Fluid Balance
- These special little ions also help regulate your body’s fluids. If you have an imbalance, you can either become dehydrated or retain too much water. You must find the right balance of electrolytes for your body.
Balanced Blood pH Levels
- A balanced blood pH level is another significant benefit you receive with the right amount of electrolytes. If you have too much chloride and a potassium imbalance, your blood’s acidity levels will rise, which can lead to acidosis.
- If you have too much chloride and too much potassium, you could end up with significant kidney issues. If you don’t have enough potassium, too much chloride can lead to a leaky pancreas, urinary tract problems, and diarrhea.
These are just a few of the ways that your electrolyte consumption can affect your body. You can gain several other benefits, including improved nerve function and better sleep. However, there are also many more risks involved if you consume too many or too few (electrolyte deficiency).
Are There Electrolytes in Water Already?
Athletes often need to replenish their bodies' electrolyte supplies more often than others. This is because they lose more through their sweat. If you don’t sweat a lot during your workout, you probably won’t need to supplement your body with more electrolytes either because you will replace enough through your regular diet.
Electrolytes can be found in both food and water. Does all water have electrolytes? Yes, of course! Think back to when we first defined them. What do electrolytes do in water? They dissolve. That means that there are trace amounts of electrolytes in any water from any source.
What are electrolytes in water? They can be any of the different minerals. It’s hard to tell how many of each mineral is in a serving because the concentration of electrolytes in water varies so much from brand to brand and bottle to bottle.
Are there electrolytes in tap water? Yes, even the water from your kitchen sink contains them. Wells are often a great source of water with minerals and electrolytes.
How Much Salt to Put in Water for Electrolytes
Since it’s hard to know how many electrolytes are in the water, it’s also hard to figure out how much salt you should add to your water if you need to replace sodium and chloride lost in sweat.
You’ll have to consider how much you sweat while working out. Did you go for a long run on a hot summer day? Then you’ve probably sweat a lot more than you would if you were doing light yoga in the air conditioning.
The amount will also depend on how much salt you get from other food and drink sources. Are you already consuming a lot of salt with your meals? If so, you probably don’t need to supplement as much.
To give you a better idea of how much water and electrolytes you need to replace, you should know that the average person sweats 0.8-1.4L per hour of intense exercise. For every liter of sweat, you lose about 1 gram, or 1,000 mg, of sodium, which is the primary electrolyte you lose in sweat. Since most people require 2,300 mg max of sodium and chloride, you might need to supplement your regular diet with 100-300 mg of salt to keep a balance.
Note: These are just average numbers to give you a better idea. The exact amounts can vary widely from person to person.
Salt-Sugar Water Benefits
Knowing how sugar works together with sodium, it should come as no surprise that there are several benefits to consuming water or other sports drinks that combine both salt and sugar. The following are just a few of the most noteworthy benefits you can expect.
When you consume electrolyte drinks with added sugar, you get all the benefits of the minerals plus more energy. Whether you need a quick burst to help you recover after a challenging workout, or you need to store energy for a marathon, sugar water or sports drinks can help with that. The stored glucose turns into glycogen, and your muscles will burn it to create energy.
If you’ve just hit a PR on the treadmill, you probably will need to rehydrate quickly. Fortunately, as we discussed, sodium and sugar work well together to make sure your body gets plenty of water back into its cells.
Aid Your Body in Recovery
Finally, you can expect your body to recover a lot faster when it is well hydrated. The sugar also provides you with more energy to make it home from the gym without feeling too tired. If you drink water or a sports drink that also contains protein, you’ll be well on your way to an efficient recovery.
What is Electrolyte Water?
Even though all water has trace amounts of electrolytes, some beverage manufacturers make special products for people looking to supplement their diet with more minerals. These are typically called electrolyte waters. You may also see them referred to as ion or alkaline waters.
Regardless of how they market the product, it simply means that they have been infused with electrically charged minerals to provide your body with all of the electrolytes you need.
Reasons to Use Electrolyte Powders
You can get your electrolyte supplements in other forms, however. At Tailwind Nutrition, we make oral rehydration solutions (ORS) that provide your body with the perfect balance of sodium, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. We have carefully formulated our products to speed up the fluid absorption of water so that you can quickly replace what was lost in sweat.
We also include sugar in our powders to provide you with those energizing benefits and an efficient rehydration beverage. Instead of using processed sugars, we use dextrose and sucrose, which match the glucose your body is designed to absorb through your intestine.
Not only does this help the nutrients to get into your bloodstream faster, but it also prevents any upset stomach from too much sugar overload.
Why should you use an electrolyte powder instead of DIY salt-sugar water or those fancy ion waters?
- If you get bored of the taste of plain water, you’ll love that we offer several different flavors. No matter which you prefer, you can rest assured that all of them are natural and provide a light, fresh taste.
Use Your Favorite Water Bottle
- If you have a water bottle that you use to track your water consumption, you can simply add the powder to it and mix it with some water. It’s also much more convenient to carry packets of powder and refill your bottle instead of carrying multiple ion water bottles with you.
Easy to Mix on the Go
- You can take the guesswork out of how much salt or sugar you need to add to a water bottle. Our products come with a convenient scoop or individual servings, so you get the right amount every time. That also means it’s easy to make the water while you’re on the run or in the gym. You can simply pour, shake, and go.
We know that was a lot of information to digest, but we hope that you have come away with a better understanding of how glucose helps your body absorb electrolytes. You should know more about the following topics:
- Is Sugar an Electrolyte?
- Do Electrolytes Hydrate You?
- How Many Should You Drink?
- Does Water Have Electrolytes?
- Salt and Sugar Water Benefits
- Is Electrolyte Water Good for You?
- Electrolyte Powders for Water
If you are interested in learning more about the convenience and health benefits of electrolyte powders with sugar, you should check out our website and some of our other blogs. We also encourage you to sample our products to see the benefits for yourself.
We currently offer two different formulas, including our Recovery Mix with Protein and our Endurance Fuel for hydration and energy. You can easily try a couple of our Best Sellers in our popular bundle, or you can choose a few individual servings to sample our different flavors.