Wondering what’s the key to optimized performance? You might say it is balance. You have to balance your hard workouts with recovery, balance the good and bad stress in your life, balance work / play / family time. You also need to find balance in your nutrition – particularly in your electrolyte levels.
When More Isn’t Better: Sodium
When you ask most athletes about electrolytes they will likely lean toward the “I need more sodium” camp. And that might be true for a small percentage of people. But more isn’t always better. What matters is that the levels of all your electrolytes in your body are balanced. An abundance of one (sodium) is not going to make sure you don’t cramp on the racecourse (a common incorrect belief.) Sodium is extremely important for the regulation of fluid levels outside the cells in the body. It is an essential factor in hydration, as it “holds” water in the cells.
Most sports drinks and gels contain more than enough sodium to support strenuous exercise without the need for extra supplementation. In fact, some products have so much sodium that you could be getting too much which leads to increased thirst and bloating.
What You are Missing: Potassium
On the other hand, potassium is an important electrolyte that works alongside sodium in the body and you’re probably not getting enough. The majority of foods and beverages contain an overabundance of sodium and low potassium in relation to the standard American diet. It is vital that potassium be replaced during and after exercise as potassium is integral to maintaining the body’s fluid balance with sodium. Along with sodium, it is one of the main electrolytes consistently lost in sweat. Potassium is the most abundant electrolyte found inside the cells of the body and is essential for many processes, including nerve impulse transmission, heart and skeletal muscle contraction, and energy production. Signs of low potassium include weakness, fatigue, muscle cramps/spasms and digestive problems.
Find Balance with GLUKOS
GLUKOS’ formulas are designed to help you maintain optimal electrolyte balance. Our products contain, on average, slightly less sodium and up to 3x the potassium than other brands. When you consider a high percentage of DNF’s (did not finish) in endurance events are attributed to nutrition errors, it’s extremely important that you take into account your balance of electrolytes, along with the type of carbohydrate and number of calories you’re taking in, when looking to optimize your performance.
Want more science? Read our research paper on electrolytes and hydration on our Science page.