Importance of proper electrolytes for training

Importance of proper electrolytes for training

Estimated reading time: 15 minutes


Just as your macronutrient content is important for seeing results from your training, your micronutrient content is essential for being able to train to your full potential. Micronutrients are Vitamins and Minerals; today we will be focusing on the minerals in the form of Electrolytes.

Whilst macronutrients will change your overall body composition, micronutrients change the will change the things that you can’t immediately see. These things include: performance, health and longevity. We will be explaining: what electrolytes are, why you should care about them and how you can get a good balance of them from your diet and supplements. 

What are electrolytes? 🧂

Electrolytes are minerals that have a natural positive or negative charge when dissolved in water. Your body uses electrolytes to facilitate the transfer of electrical signals throughout the body for thinking and contracting muscles, as-well as things such as: regenerating ATP (one way your body stores energy), regulating fluid levels in cells, regulating blood pressure and regulating hormone levels. 

The main electrolytes our bodies use are: sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium and magnesium.

Why do you need to care? 💭

It can be easy to dismiss the importance of the things that you can’t see, because it is hard to tell weather or not they are actually effecting you or not. However, just because something is not perceptible to the eye, that does not mean that is is not having an effect on you; especially when the effects happen in small increments over a long period of time. 


You may not be concerned about the micronutrient content of your body because you aren’t noticing any negative feelings. However, getting your micronutrient balance right will usually have a noticeable positive effect almost immediately. It is the key to not only feeling as good as you should, but getting better performance in the gym and in day-to-day life. For the most part, nobody teaches you what getting your micronutrients right looks like. Well here, we do.


Electrolytes regulate hydration in the blood and cells – along with water intake. Dehydration can cause the blood to thicken, reducing the ease of it’s flow in and out of the muscles, causing increased muscle glycogen use, increased perception of effort (due to less oxygen reaching the muscles) and a higher heart rate. Not to mention that lower fluid levels in the body will cause a reduced sweat rate, higher body temperature and lower potential for performance and concentration. 


Did you know?: A reduction as little as 2% of your body weight due to sweat loss can cause dehydration. Therefore, it is vital you begin training or your race in a hydrated state and try to remain hydrated throughout.

How do I get it right?  Check Mark on Skype Emoticons 1.2

Studies conclude that we need around 5,000 mg of sodium (from salt) [1]4,700 mg of potassium (from fish and vegetables) [2], and 600 mg of magnesium (from beans and leafy greens) [3] per day from diet and supplements. If this is done right, you should not need to take any form of electrolyte drink during your workout. In fact, electrolyte drinks are often not a good idea, due to their high sugar content. Instead, make sure food is seasoned well (preferably with sea salt due to the extra minerals it contains). Then, all you need to do is drink adequate amounts of water before and during exercise (around 400ml to 600ml 2 hours prior to training, then another 150-300ml of water per 15-20 minutes of exercise).

As an extra option, you can add some sea salt (HOW MUCH?) to 600ml (roughly a pint) of water to get some extra electrolytes in your diet. (You may want to also add some flavouring unless you like the taste of salty water…)

This may sound like a lot of sodium, when compared to the government’s recommendation of 2,300 mg of sodium per day. However, studies have found that lower than 5 grams per day can be linked to heart attack and stroke in heart disease patients [4]. Unfortunately when it comes to exercise and nutrition, the government caters to the lowest common denominator. For example: the government recommends 5 80g portions of fruit and veg per day. That is: 4 pieces of broccoli, a banana and an orange along with some baked beans.

In reality, scientists have concluded that if we eat 800g of fruit and veg per day (which would be 10 portions) we could reduce the risks of: heart disease by 24%, stroke by 33%, cardiovascular disease by up to 28%, cancer by 13% and the risk of premature death by a whole 31%. Therefore, following government nutrition advice may not be as smart as you would think.



In conclusion, maintaining electrolyte levels is important for working out, because they: help in regenerating ATP (one way your body stores energy), regulate blood pressure and regulating hormone levels, facilitate the transfer of electrical signals throughout the body and they leave the body in significant amounts through sweat (causing dehydration and cramps if not replenished).

Given these realities, keeping the right balance electrolytes is paramount. This must also be mixed with adequate water intake (about 2 litres each day, not including water intake during exercise). If this is done improperly, weather too many or too few electrolytes (although the kidneys will filter out any excess within reason), then you will experience side effects such as: headaches, low energy, cramps and confusion.