Hydration and Electrolytes for Runners

Drinking enough water during runs over 60 mins is essential, but including some electrolytes drinks is very important for runs over 90 mins. The human body is made of about 60% water. Runners slow their pace and affect their energy levels and performance by 2% for each 1% of body weight loss through dehydration. Our body needs water, but once we start sweating or running longer distances, our body starts to get depleted of basic minerals and vitamins. Electrolytes are a very important part of our sports nutrition and fueling. Recommended fluid intake vary from each individual, according to different body types. Electrolytes for runners is about more than sodium. Electrolytes will make sure your energy levels and performance stay balance to feel good and perform at your best.

Symptoms and side effects of dehydration:

  • Feeling thirsty, which means you’re already dehydrated
  • Fatigue
  • Dry eyes/ dry mouth
  • Decrease in sweat rate
  • Increase in heart rate
  • Increase in body temperature
  • Cramps
  • Headaches
  • GI distress/ nausea
  • Confusion
  • Chills

When to consume electrolytes:

To drink some electrolytes pre-run can protect your body from depletion.
During your run, you need to consume electrolytes regularly, if you take electrolytes through drinks, then you need to sip regularly. If you get your electrolytes through tablets or capsules, make sure you take minimum 1 tablet/hour. If your sweat level is higher and the weather is very hot and humid, 2 tablets/hour might be necessary. Taking electrolytes will also lower your salt cravings. For post-run electrolytes recovery, you can make some nice natural electrolyte drinks at home.

List of electrolytes to prevent dehydration:

  • Sodium
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Chloride
  • Phosphate
  • Bicarbonate
  • Vitamin D3

Reasons to include electrolytes in your fueling:

  1. Balanced electrolytes prevent muscle cramping, fatigue, headache, and decreased performance.
  2. Salt tablets only provide 2 of the 5 essential electrolytes you need to stay balanced.
  3. You can’t replace all the electrolytes you are depleted of all at once, that’s why it is important to consume during and post-run.
  4. Digestive issues are also symptoms of electrolytes imbalance.
  5. Muscle cramps can be a symptoms of electrolytes imbalance, that’s how your body alerts you.

How the weather and temperature affect dehydration:

  • According to the weather and temperature, runners will be affected through sweat rate. The higher the temperature, there is an increase in sweat production. But even in colder temperatures, the body still sweats, but at a slower rate.
  • Higher humidity levels, regardless of the temperature, the more difficult it is for the sweat to evaporate off the skin, making it harder for the body to process the cooling.
  • The body fitness levels also affect the sweat rate. For very active and fit runners, the sweat volume is usually a bit higher, and they usually begin to sweat sooner into the run.
  • Gender also affects the sweat rate. Men tend to sweat more than women, not only due to bigger size, but also due to higher muscle mass. Warm weather and high humidity tend to affect men more than women.
  • Wearing the wrong running clothes according to the warm weather can also increase the sweat rate.

Natural foods and drinks to support hydration:

  • Coconut water- Great natural electrolytes drink
  • Watermelon
  • Pineapple
  • Grapes
  • Papaya
  • Berries
  • Cucumber
  • Kiwi
  • Bananas
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Citrus fruits- Oranges, grapefruits
  • Bell peppers
  • Carrots

The better we feel both physically and mentally, the better we perform, and proper hydration is key. You can still be a good runner even if you are slightly dehydrated, but you won’t maximize your abilities. An individualized approach to hydration will balance your electrolytes and make you feel stronger.

Train Well, Eat and Drink Well, Feel Great!

Katia

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