Are you training for century ride? Maybe training for a marathon? Some of us know the symptoms of the lack of electrolytes. Most commonly felt by spasms, twitching of the nerves and muscles. Cramping in your arms, legs, confusion or disorientation can be attributed to lack of electrolytes.
So we know some of the symptoms of lack of electrolytes, but which ones are we missing and how do we replace them.
Hyponatremia, or low sodium causes symptoms of fatigue, headaches, irritability, and spasms in muscles. Exercise associated hypnatremia (EAH) is common at marathons, triathlons, or other endurance events. Low sodium can also be caused by over hydration, drinking only water during an event could have this side effect.
Hypokalemia, or low potassium causes an abnormal heart rhythm (cardiac arrhythmias), muscle weakness (Myalgia), fatigue and constipation. A common cause of the loss of potassium can be associated with diarrhea.
Endurance athletes who have suffered diarrhea during an event are depleting their body of electrolytes needed. I have personally suffered from this, my nutrition during the race did not go as planned. Therefore I either consumed too many gels, shot blocks or other carbohydrates trying to finish an event only to have an adverse reaction. Looking for a bathroom in the middle of your long run is not how you want to spend the last half of any event.
Low magnesium also contributes to all the factors listed above. Magnesium should be replaced along with all the other electrolytes.
For long runs or rides in hot conditions where you are sweating heavily an electrolyte replacement drink or tablets should be experimented with before your actual race. There are plenty of options on the market. Accelerate sport drink, accelerate tabs which dissolve in water and can be carried, or Endurolytes by hammer are some which I have used on a regular basis. There are others but individual preference and how it settles while you work out should be considered.
Hydration and replenishment of electrolytes after an event is also important. The following are some healthy choices that can be incorporated into your daily nutrition.
Potasium is found in bananas, potatoes, red meat, chicken, fish, broccoli and yogurt.
Magnesium along with zinc and vitamin D can be found in whole grains, green leafy vegetables, pumpkin, squash seeds.
Milk, chocolate milk, white beans, sardines, kale, almonds, kale and oranges are a good source of calcium.
Milk, beets, celery, tomatoes, seaweed are good source of sodium. Other sources could include electrolyte replacements drinks, such as gatorade. Personally I prefer coconut water.
It is important to understand hydration, and the balance of electrolytes in your body. Experiment during training and find which supplements work better for you.