Author: James O’Sullivan • Fact checked by: Gainful Registered Dietitians • April 6, 2022
Exercise isn’t just about the workout. Fitness is bigger than the reps you put in, the miles you run, or how much weight you can lift. We can spend all day at the gym, running our bodies ragged, but that alone won’t yield the gains we strive for.
Just as crucial to your fitness goals — if not more so — is your recovery process.
How much time do you give your body to recuperate and build on those gains you’ve been building? How do you nurture your body with the nutrients it needs to build those gains in the first place? How do you make the most out of your rest periods?
Hydration is crucial to our bodily function. After all, we’re about 60% water.
Keeping your body adequately hydrated after you’ve been sweating is the first step to ensuring optimal recovery.
And the key to maximizing your rehydration, recovery, and gains is building back your electrolytes — such as potassium, phosphorus, phosphate, and magnesium.
With all the effort that we put into a fruitful exercise session — the planning, the exertion, the dedication — it’s easy to forget about replenishing fluids and electrolytes when all is said and done.
But it’s important to ensure that our post-workout routines guide our bodies back to the right hydration level after sweating so much out of our system.
Being properly hydrated is crucial in general. But for those of us going to the gym with clear fitness goals, staying hydrated is absolutely essential to accomplishing our gains.
Dehydration can hurt the body’s ability to make protein, keeping our muscles from growing at their best after engaging in physical activity. When you let yourself stay dehydrated, you’re wasting all that time and effort working out by failing to set your body up for success.
What’s the point of putting in all that sweat only to get limited gains?
Don’t let hydration oversights or an electrolyte imbalance hold you back. Keeping on top of your hydration levels is a crucial part of maximizing your time exercising — and warding off muscle cramps or irregular muscle contractions.
And one of the best ways to maximize your hydration is with electrolyte replenishment.
Think of a particularly taxing workout session: by the end of it, you’re usually dripping with sweat, which of course, is a good thing for us. Sweating allows us to keep our bodies cool so that we can exert ourselves over longer periods.
But in exchange for those lowered heat levels, there’s a cost. We not only lose water when we sweat, but electrolytes as well.
You may be asking yourself, what’s so important about having the right amount of electrolytes anyway?
Electrolytes are minerals, like sodium, magnesium, chloride, and more, that carry an electrical charge. Our bodies desperately need electricity to operate.
Electrolytes play significant roles in not only keeping us hydrated but everything from allowing our muscles to contract to the synaptic firings in our brains.
Your familiarity with electrolytes may be closely associated with hydration, thanks to their prominence in sports drinks. One of their most important functions, electrolytes and hydration go hand in hand.
Electrolytes help us maintain a healthy balance of water across the body, down to the cellular level. Drinking water is essential, of course, but keeping your electrolyte levels up to par can help ensure your body is firing on all cylinders.
So, what are the best methods of electrolyte replacement after working out?
Especially when we are exerting ourselves in a dedicated way, like when we participate in sports or exercise, our bodies end up craving electrolytes at a level that can be difficult to obtain.
We get our electrolytes primarily through our diet — much of the food we consume has calcium, magnesium, and sodium in it.
However, when we exert ourselves, there’s no faster way to replenish our electrolytes than electrolyte-infused drinks. Dairy products, fruit juices, and coconut water are all good sources of crucial electrolytes after an intense workout, but many of these also come with high amounts of added sugar.
Gainful can help. Our Personalized Hydration includes key electrolytes and just enough cane sugar needed to help you recover after a tough workout.
The benefit of infusing supplemental electrolyte formulas is that you are packing in the very electrolytes you need to rehydrate into the water you’re drinking already. The water rehydrates you while you also replenish your electrolytes, which speeds up your rehydration process.
Eating foods with sodium or magnesium directly after intense exercise just isn’t realistic for the replenishment of our electrolytes, especially after sweating them out at the gym. There’s a reason you don’t see a snack bar on the sidelines of professional sports.
Using the proper means to rehydrate our bodies and replenish our electrolytes, the key minerals that speed up our rehydration, is crucial to overall wellness.
If you’re trying to get the most out of your fitness, electrolyte drinks and supplements should be a staple in your workout and wellness routine. You bounce back faster, allowing your body to focus on building upon all the work you put in.
As far as best practices go, maximizing your electrolyte replenishment with formulas like Personalized Hydration is only one part of an overall process that lets your body recover with peak efficiency.
Naturally, consuming the electrolytes you’ve sweated out is key to building back the levels you need to get your body where it needs to be. But after your body has been sweating it out to keep itself cool while you exercise, focusing on cooling off on your own is going to ease up on the heat that’s been draining you of your electrolytes.
After a workout, there’s nothing like a nice, cold shower to help you feel cool after chasing the burn. It feels great, and the principle behind it is in the right place.
Sweating drains of your body of water and electrolytes. After catching up on what you lost with electrolyte-infused fluids, a balanced diet of whole foods, and the right amount of water, cooling off is only going to help you conserve the minerals you’ve been losing.
You’ve consumed your fluids with the electrolytes you need, you’re cooling off, and now you’ve just got to kick back and take it easy after a bout of exercise.
Equally important to active exercise are the rest periods, where we allow our bodies to recover after exertion. It’s been shown that rest during our exercise sessions is crucial to making the most out of our gains.
It may be common sense that we have to take a step back from our exercise and allow ourselves the time to recuperate. But when we become so caught up in our fitness, giving ourselves the time to relax and take it easy can feel like giving up.
Recuperative rest is a necessity in healthy fitness habits. To restore your body’s proper hydration and electrolyte levels, give the same dedication to rest periods that you might assign to another set of exercises.
The cornerstone to any effective fitness routine is a healthy diet. So the final stage of replenishing your electrolytes ought to be getting back to a diet that enriches your electrolytes in the first place.
After exercising, cooling off, and resting, eating right really caps off your fitness regimen by restoring your electrolytes so that you’re ready for tomorrow.
Magnesium, calcium, sodium, and other electrolytes are plentiful in most foods you would go for on a health-based diet, to begin with.
Here are just a few foods that deliver on electrolytes so you can finish replenishing your body of what you lost:
There are so many more foods that you can include in your diet to both replenish your electrolytes after exercising and store up on them before you even get started.
Taking an active role in replenishing your electrolyte levels after a workout, and ensuring you’ve got them before you even hit the gym, speaks to your commitment to fitness.
Putting in the work for peak fitness means more than just showing up at the gym or putting on your running shoes. You get out what you put in. And when you’re putting in the work with beneficial supplements created to serve your needs like Personalized Hydration by Gainful, you’re equipping yourself with the tools you need to practice fitness at its highest level.
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