Author: James O’Sullivan • Fact checked by: Gainful Registered Dietitians • April 6, 2022
Are you worn out after your workouts and training? Or a bit slower than usual? There is a good explanation for that — electrolyte imbalance.
We’ve all been told how crucial it is to rehydrate after a particularly grueling workout, but when you’ve depleted your body’s resources by overexerting yourself, proper replenishment calls for more than just drinking water.
Water is essential, but the truth is that it’s just not enough once you’ve lost too much of it. That’s because our blood needs certain minerals to function, too, and these minerals are called electrolytes.
They are particles that live in your fluids and carry an electrical charge. Their job is to send electrical impulses so your nerves, heart, and muscles can function properly.
Electrolytes also support your body to absorb water.
It’s likely you’ve heard of at least a few, but here’s the full list:
You can get electrolytes from the food you eat, but here's the catch — the level of electrolytes in your body changes when you lose water, especially through sweat.
Your body primarily loses water through sweat and urine, which is why it is so crucial to replenish your body’s electrolytes after a particularly hard workout (or if you’ve been going to the bathroom more frequently).
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let's discuss...
When you lose a lot of body fluids, your electrolytes levels drop significantly. You can end up with low electrolytes for various reasons, but some common causes are:
Sweat is your body's natural cooling system. When you exercise, your body cools itself down by sweating. The drops evaporate to cool down the skin and blood under it. Sweat is actually water and electrolytes.
When your fluid levels change, your chloride levels are down.
Now, what happens when you finish your training or workout soaked in sweat? You're losing electrolytes — especially sodium.
General recommendations suggest that active people (like you!) need to refuel within two hours of your workout. You have to replace all the fluid, electrolytes, protein, and carbohydrates that your body used while exercising.
When you end up dehydrated, which can occur after diarrhea or vomiting, it can disturb the balance of electrolytes in your system.
Dehydration is no joke. Electrolyte imbalances occur when your body needs water, whether it be from fluid loss or inadequate intake.
Believe it or not, drinking too much water may actually do more harm than good by causing electrolyte imbalances. The more water you drink to satisfy your thirst, the more you dilute the sodium in your bloodstream and cause those sodium levels to plummet.
Don’t get us wrong — having too much sodium in your bloodstream isn’t great, either. It’s all about balance.
If you’re feeling fatigued and lethargic, you might not immediately think of low electrolytes as the culprit. But having an electrolyte imbalance can lead to low energy.
Imagine being able to get back from your latest sweat sesh without feeling like you’re about to collapse. Or have the energy to even complete your workout at all.
An electrolyte imbalance can make it difficult for your body to keep functioning.
When your electrolytes are low, you may not notice the symptoms, or you may attribute the symptoms to something else entirely. Fatigue and shakiness, for example, can also be symptoms of hunger or poor sleep. However, your electrolytes are just as crucial as that good night’s rest.
Your body needs electrolytes to function without going into overdrive. Balance is crucial, and having too many electrolytes or not enough electrolytes can cause unpleasant side effects.
The symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance can vary, with some being more severe than others. For a sporty person like you, you may be more likely to notice:
If you’ve suffered from a muscle cramp, you know the pain and discomfort all too well. Cramps are essentially irregular muscle spasms.
When your body has lost nutrients after a workout, your muscles are begging you for food, which is why you might experience muscle cramping. And what do you need to do when your muscles are hungry? Feed them.
If your grandma told you to drink more water, she was partially right — drinking water can only keep you hydrated. However, it cannot necessarily prevent cramps from happening.
Not all water is the same, and plain water doesn't contain those essential electrolytes. The more water you drink, the more you dilute the electrolytes in your blood.
A new study has shown that your body may be more prone to cramps if you drink pure water after dehydration. To avoid cramps and support your immune system, aim to drink electrolytes rather than just plain water.
You may experience thirst as a symptom of overall dehydration, where you want to replace both water and electrolytes.
You know the feeling, we’re sure.
Are you jealous of those who claim they feel hyped after a workout? How come they're not tired, like us?
The answer could be that they take care of their electrolytes. Yes, they sweat and burn calories, but they also replenish their body with what was lost. This can be done before, during, or after the workout.
Interestingly, both high and low sodium levels in the body can contribute to fatigue. So keep that bad boy in check.
Yes, you read that correctly. Electrolytes imbalance can make you feel confused and can even change your mood. More specifically, low sodium levels may contribute to these disruptions in cognitive function.
Muscle weakness can be caused by low electrolyte levels. In addition to muscle weakness, you may also have twitching muscles. When your muscles are weaker than expected, it can increase your risk of injury, especially if a muscle gives out in the middle of an activity.
Feelings of dizziness or weakness may result from electrolyte imbalances. Not your usual self lately? You may be able to blame the electrolytes.
Over time, low intake of calcium can cause bones to weaken, and increases your risk for fractures.
Electrolyte imbalances, especially changes in sodium and potassium levels, can lead to an irregular heartbeat.
When discussing these symptoms, we should note that the last four are particularly risky. All four entail a higher risk of fractures, bleeding, and injuries. We’re sure those are things you want to avoid at all costs — being in pain and spending your afternoon in the ER is the last thing you want.
As an active person, it is important to protect your body to reduce these risks.
Restore your electrolyte levels and keep them in check.
We're all different, including you. Your lifestyle is unique.
Active people like you deserve custom-made hydration based on your needs. How hard you exercise, your sweat levels, and how often you workout are all factors that play a massive role in your body’s needs.
Most energy drinks typically don’t contain adequate amounts of electrolytes, and are often high in sugar.
Despite their popularity, most energy drinks are full of sugar and additives.
That’s why Gainful takes a personalized, healthful approach to meeting your body’s needs. With formulas that are non-GMO, plant-based, and contain no artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners, Gainful is here to help you feel your best so you can perform at your best.
Electrolyte imbalances can create a host of unpleasant symptoms and health issues. But you're in luck — there is a way to streamline your nutrition and hydration so your body has what it needs.
With a Personalized Hydration formula that delivers adequate electrolytes according to your activity levels, sweat levels, and workout intensity, Gainful is formulated to fit your goals. Gainful Personalized Hydration contains calcium citrate for muscle function, magnesium glycinate for performance, sodium citrate to replenish your body after sweating, and potassium citrate to regulate your fluids.
Personalized Hydration has cane sugar to speed up the rehydration process for even better results. Caffeinated versions also include L-theanine to improve focus.
Remember, electrolytes help ensure that your nerves, muscles, heart, and brain work the way they should while also hydrating you and supporting your overall health.
Don't leave your health to luck. You deserve better, and Gainful can help. Start your journey.
6 West 18th St, #10F
New York, NY 10011