Electrolytes for Runners – What You Need to Know!
Runner’s are told all the time that they need to replenish their electrolyte levels, especially after a good run or workout. But what are electrolytes and why are electrolytes for runners so important? Here is your guide to all things electrolytes!
What are Electrolytes?
In a nutshell, electrolytes are salts. Yep, salts! Electrolytes such as Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Chloride, Phosphate, and Sulfate dissolve into positive or negatively charged ions. These ions have two functions; Regulating the flow of water in and out of our cells, and sparking electrical impulses in our bodies.
What Purpose Do Electrolytes Serve?
- Water Regulation: Electrolytes act as the key to allow water in and out of your cells and glands. As you run or workout you are burning energy and your body warms up. Electrolytes are then deposited into your sweat glands (taking water with them via osmosis). Then your sweat glands release the electrolytes and water onto your skin, and as that water evaporates it cools your skin leaving behind the electrolytes. Those electrolytes (salts) are what leave your skin tasting salty after a run. For this cooling system to work you need electrolytes in your system. Also, the more electrolytes and water you lose through sweat, the less water is available for the other cells in your body like your organs and brain; making them not function as efficiently.
- Sparking Electrical Impulses: Remember when we said that electrolytes create positive and negative ion? Your brain uses these ions to communicate with the rest of your body through your nervous system. Without the right balance of ions in your body, your muscles can’t perform the tasks your brain tells them to do. This is why when your electrolytes are low or out of balance it can impact not only your muscles, but your digestive system, blood pressure and brain function as well. Three areas that are essential while running.
Are All Electrolyte Sources the Same? NO!
Sports Drinks: Sports drinks are a convenient way to get electrolytes while running or working out, but they only provide a couple electrolytes, and in a very low quantity. Usually enough for casual exercise. To their defense, if they provided the full lineup of electrolytes in the quantity you really need for long runs or intense workouts, they would taste way too salty! So if you want the full lineup of electrolytes you need, you’ll need to look to an electrolyte supplement. Also beware of the sugar in many sports drinks. Carbs are good to fuel running and exercise, but if weight loss is your goal, the sugar can add back the calories you were working hard to burn.
Electrolyte Supplements: Electrolyte capsules, often referred to as “Salt Pills” are a much better source of electrolytes to fuel runners on training runs and especially on race day. You are able to get the full spectrum of electrolytes that cause both positive and negative ions in your body, and in the right quantity to make an impact and keep your body functioning properly. You can also more easily regulate your water vs. electrolyte intake by drinking or taking the capsules in intervals that match your needs.
The Problem With Most Electrolyte Supplements:
The downside to ingesting most electrolytes is that they have a very low bioavailabilty. Bioavailabilty means the amount of the nutrient that actually gets absorbed through digestion. That means you may be taking the proper amount of electrolytes, but are those electrolytes even making into your bloodstream and are they even helping you at all? The reason our Runner’s Electrolytes capsules are so effective is that we included BioPerine as our secret weapon. BioPerine a.k.a. black pepper extract, has a very high absorption rate and it binds itself to other nutrients, boosting their bioavailability. For example, magnesium by itself only has a 16% absorption rate, however when blended with BioPerine the absorption rate skyrockets to 87%! When you take Runner’s Electrolytes, rest assured that your body is actually able to absorb and benefit from the electrolytes.
Also, most electrolyte supplements haven’t formulated their electrolytes for runners. Depending on the exercise you endure, you lose a certain balance of electrolytes. Our Runner’s Electrolytes has been formulated to match the electrolytes your body loses while running. This helps your body regulate its electrolytes much easier, helping your body remain as efficient as possible and you running your strongest.
When Should Runners Use Electrolytes?
Everyone’s body is different, so as you take electrolytes, whether in pill form or in sports drinks, listen to your body and fine tune as you go. We recommend that you take 1 Runner’s Electrolytes capsule 30 minutes prior to your run, and then one every 45 minutes or so during your run. If it is a much longer run than usual, it can be helpful to take another capsule 30 minutes after your run is complete.
However, you should be taking the electrolytes prior to your body asking for it. Dehydration can sneak up on you very quickly. It’s best to replenish your electrolyte levels as you go, rather than waiting for cramps and muscle fatigue to set in.