Leitfaden zur Hydratation für Athleten: Welche Elektrolyte brauchst du?

Hydration guide for athletes: What electrolytes do you need?

Malte Wagenbach

As an athlete, you know firsthand that reaching peak performance, achieving personal goals, and sustaining success are a result of the specific program you've developed to take care of your body: proper nutrition, hydration, training, and recovery.  But did you know how important hydration is to athlete performance? Hydration can have a DRAMATIC impact on performance. In fact, studies suggest that athletic performance can be affected by as little as 2% water loss. However, hydration is much more than just the intake of fluid. 

Why do we need electrolytes for hydration?

Refueling includes replenishing electrolytes lost through sweating. Electrolytes and hydration are necessary to perform at your best, whether you're training for a marathon, a cross-fitter, or taking a spinning class. They are minerals that carry tiny electrical charges throughout the body that help:

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  • Transmitting impulses through our nerves
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  • to contract
  • our muscles.
  • regulate the pH, metabolism and blood pressure in our body. 

Think of electrolytes as the oil in a car's engine. They don't power the engine, but they are absolutely necessary to keep everything running properly. Electrolytes help optimize physiology and ensure that we are and remain alert, responsive and healthy.    

As athletes, we know our bodies well. We know when we've had a hard workout - often suffering from exhaustion, cramps, excessive sweating, palpitations, headaches or even mental fatigue. All of these can be signs that we are lacking important minerals. Take cramps, for example: cramps are your body's natural and often painful way of telling you it's running on fumes. Your body is alerting you that you need to replenish your electrolytes immediately, before other body systems are affected.  

Think about it: Our cardiac, nervous, digestive and muscular systems ALL depend on adequate electrolyte balance. If that is not the case, it goes with our body FAST downhill.  

How does sweating affect the water balance of athletes?

Athletes tend to sweat much more than untrained people. When the body begins to overheat, the nervous system stimulates the sweat glands, causing the body to sweat to cool the body down. 

Recent studies suggest that athletes sweat more due to their higher performance: The body is able to exert more effort for the same aerobic performance, which leads to greater heat generation and sweating more.  

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Have you ever noticed that your sweat tastes a little salty? Every time the body produces sweat, it uses up sodium and chloride in the process, as well as potassium, magnesium and calcium to a lesser extent. 

Magnesium deficiency is common in the Western world. It is important for muscle relaxation and cardiovascular health. Calcium helps in proper contraction of muscles and maintenance of bone health. Potassium must be supplied in proper proportion to sodium to regulate fluid balance, muscle contraction and nerve signals, while chloride also contributes to fluid regulation.

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Frequent exercise can quickly increase the need for these nutrients and hydration for athletes. Unfortunately, many products miss out on electrolyte balancing.... they omit potassium and magnesium or contain only small amounts of them. 

What is the recommended amount of electrolytes for athletes?

There is no blanket answer when it comes to hydration. There is also no blanket calculation of the recommended amount of electrolytes for athletes who support an active lifestyle. The required amount of electrolytes for athletes depends on many factors such as age, gender, weight, climate, fitness and activity level. However, if you exercise for less than two hours, an electrolyte blend containing 120-160 mg of sodium and 50-100 mg of potassium per 470 ml should be sufficient. 

If you are an extreme athlete, you may need a product with a much higher concentration of electrolytes to replenish your body. Athletes in this group should aim for between 400-500 mg of sodium and 400-500 mg of potassium per 470ml. 

If a strenuous workout is on your schedule for the day, or you plan to train in the summer heat, you should take an electrolyte supplement before your workout. During exercise, electrolyte products containing sodium help to compensate for sweat loss and assist the body in utilizing carbohydrates. After your workout, electrolytes ensure that you rehydrate much faster than if you just drink water - it's much easier to retain water because the water is attracted to the sodium molecules.  

Watch your electrolyte choices VERY carefully. Many of today's popular sports drinks contain sugar, artificial flavors, colors, fillers, and only maltodextrin (no other carbohydrate chains) - who would want to put those ingredients in a well-oiled machine? As athletes, we strive to use the cleanest and most natural products to ensure our body's long-term performance! Electrolytes like ours provide your body with the healthy nutrients it needs to perform at its best. You can easily get the electrolytes found in a traditional sports drink in a clean, marine mineral-based supplement that will help you fuel up and recharge for your next effort.  

Fuel your body with fluids and electrolytes to hydrate it, increase its performance, improve its endurance and recover.

If you're an athlete who cares WHAT you're feeding your body, you should always choose a high-quality electrolyte supplement from a company that is committed to using high-quality, natural ingredients - like le melo. They provide clean, effective electrolytes that ensure your body absorbs the nutrients to train at its best! 

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