What is the importance of electrolytes during exercise, better yet what is an electrolyte? An electrolyte is composed of sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, bicarbonate, and hydrogen phosphate. All of these minerals are vital for basic human functioning. During exercise electrolytes are lost due to sweating and need to be replaced quickly in order for the muscles to continue firing at its highest state. Dehydration is the effect of to many of these electrolytes being lost; severe symptoms of this include dizziness, weakness, and vertigo.
Replacing electrolytes can be relatively easy because they are found in many things such as fruits, vegetable, specific electrolyte products, and many more everyday foods. Too many electrolytes can also be a bad thing, such as too much calcium causing hypercalcemia. All electrolytes are not created equally either. Some are much more important than others. For instance excessive sodium that is lost during exercise will decrease performance dramatically and can cause cramps if severe enough. There are many electrolyte products on the market though to help you avoid this!
Sometimes after a bike ride or run, drinking a massive sports drink is not in your best interest to replenish electrolytes after working out. Most of the big name sports drinks out there are full of carbohydrates in the form of sugar and simply want you to drink more of their product. Complex carbohydrates are good for endurance athletes, but not simple sugars that are found in most sports drinks. Steve Born at Hammer Nutrition said “Complex carbohydrates (polysaccharides) are the best choice for endurance athletes, as they allow your digestive system to rapidly and efficiently process a greater volume of calories, providing steady energy”.
5 Electrolyte Products We at ILB Have Used Regularly Over the Years
Below are a five electrolyte products to help you recover quicker and ride stronger that we at I Love Bicycling have used many of times! They’re listed here because we think they’re some of the best in the industry. Find what you like, both taste wise as well as performance wise, and stick with it.
“Boulder Salt is a balanced blend of sodium, magnesium, potassium and calcium, developed as a nutritionally superior alternative to sea salt and traditional table salt.” Boulder Salt is $29.99 for a pack of 60 individual single-serving packets. This is one of the less well known electrolyte products but has received excellent reviews from users. It’s formulated based upon what pure spring water should taste like with the proper amount of minerals. This ratio is also what your body needs for good pH levels as well as electrolyte levels. It’s also a good substitute for table salt on your food and gives a nice, different touch to dishes.
Torq Nutrion offers electrolyte products, one being a hypertonic solution that is claimed the “fastest possible way to hydrate”. It is “formulated with 2:1 Glucose: Fructose derivatives” and contains no artificial sweeteners, colors or preservatives. It contains 5 key electrolytes and has multiple complex carbohydrates for not only good electrolyte levels but also energy levels as the 2:1 glucose: fructose ratio gives you quick energy as well as longer lasting energy. The taste is also exceptional being tasty yet not too overpowering. This solution sells for $25 for a pack of 20 or larger, more economical sizes are also available.
Nuun has several hydration electrolyte products to help replace lost electrolytes. Some of them include the active, energy, plus, and all day products. All of there products are used to fight cramps and improve recovery. Nuun has a very wide range of flavors and prices range but typically around $7.00 for 10 tablets. They are also very handy in that they come in little tubes of 10 which can be added individually to bottles. They also are just electrolytes so don’t have any carbs which are great to have before going to bed with a big ride the next day.
Skratch labs offers an exercise hydration mix that include simple sugars, but also electrolytes and real fruit flavoring. The mix is non-GMO, gluten free, dairy free, vegan, and kosher. Skratch prides itself on going beyond the expected point to create, simple good products for athletes. Skratch hydration mix sells for $19.50 for 20 16oz servings.
Clif Hydration Mix is made with 90% organic ingredients and contains sodium and carbohydrates. The Cliff hydration mix claims to be “less sweet and lighter tasting compared to other sports drinks”. This hydration mix is $19.99 for a 15.5 oz pouch. This electrolyte product is one of the most well known products on the market and continues to help cyclists hydrate properly!