Electrolytes are minerals including sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, calcium, bicarbonate, phosphate and sulphate. You can either get electrolyte tablets which contain these minerals to add to a bottle of water, or you can simply add salt to your meal after a workout if you’re after a low-cost alternative.
Or there are the so-called sports drinks – Lucozade, Gatorade, Powerade, Accelerate, Revive, and so forth, containing added electrolytes, and a whole lot of sugar.
The problem can be that if you are not doing enough exercise to lose significant amounts of electrolytes, then taking on board too much salt and extra sugar can be bad for you, even causing cramping and the more obvious dental decay.
Having said that, if you don’t replace lost fluids and electrolytes then your organs don’t perform efficiently and so performance athletes are encouraged to rehydrate with tailor-made sports drinks or electrolyte tablets.
It’s thought that unless you are doing around 90 minutes of exercise then you don’t need to take on additional sugars and salts. But if you are pushing your body beyond that, or performing at a higher level than your average gym-goer, it’s wise to take on board the extras that sports drinks can offer.
Often marketed as soft drinks they are consumed by many people who are doing no exercise whatsoever – and that is when it becomes a bad thing.
Like any sugars or salt, consuming too much is bad news.
So unless you’re pushing yourself to dehydration levels – steer clear of the sports drinks.
Try telling that to the Under 13s football team my son plays for. They all think they need sports drinks during a match and plenty of the parents seem to oblige and give them lucozade etc. Makes me incredulous.
Who does more than 90 minutes of exercise?! I would do an hour maximum and therefore never buy sports drinks. You really really do not need them!!
It's good to know that 90 minutes is the benchmark for when you should have these drinks. I sometimes have them for longer runs and races.
how gloriously simple, straightforward and blunt! Brilliant advice. Have some water and maybe a snack later, not a ton of sugar in a bottle.
I only ever buy sports drinks and gels for long distance/endurance events - never for my regular gym session - it's far too easy to stop with water altogether and swap full time to these things which obviously isn't healthy.