“Essentially, if you think about yourself, your body is just a big bag of salty water,” says John Higgins, M.D., sports activities heart specialist with McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. “Your ability to function is tied in fairly closely with that balance with respect to the salt and the water.”
Salt, or sodium, is an electrolyte—considered one of many, together with magnesium, potassium, and calcium—that can be utilized as a solution to replenish your physique’s depleted provide throughout intense train. What’s nice about salt particularly is it is easy to hold and take, in capsule type or candies, throughout an endurance, or 90-plus minute, exercise.
But why precisely are electrolytes necessary? Chris Davis, M.D., and Fellowship Director for Wilderness Medicine on the University of Colorado School of Medicine, explains that as we drink water and it goes to our stomachs, it will get absorbed into the intestines. But as a way to truly get hydrated, we’d like these electrolytes to soak up, retain, and distribute the water all through our cells.
This straightforward water bottle hack will allow you to keep correctly hydrated each single day:
Sweating and physique temperature are clearly each elements right here, too. “Be mindful that when you sweat, you’re not just losing fluids, but you’re losing salt,” Davis says.
So, the warmer you’re, the extra you sweat to stability your physique temperature, and the extra salt your physique loses in your sweat. This can particularly be a problem in dry climates (because it was for me in Colorado), when your sweat evaporates virtually instantly, says Nikolas Harbord, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine and Nephrology on the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
“You may not realize how much water you’re losing in these drier temperatures,” Harbord says. “So you have to be especially aware of your hydration in those climates.”
Higgins agrees, saying that for those who’re sweating greater than standard, it might deplete your sodium provide and have an effect on your efficiency, both when it comes to mild headedness, a slower tempo throughout a run, or muscle cramps.
As a end result, many athletes flip to merchandise like Gatorade (one bottle has 270 mg of sodium), salted candies, and salt drugs to maintain their hydration ranges constant. Some even resort to oral rehydration answer or remedy—a mix of 1 liter of water, half a teaspoon of salt, and 6 teaspoons of sugar (you should purchase a model of it at REI), Davis says. (Don’t depart on your subsequent lengthy hike with out the ultra light water purifier bottle from the Women’s Health Boutique.)
The drawback? There’s nobody formulation that matches for everybody. Of course, each physique is totally different and subsequently wants totally different quantities of water and salt to beat back dehydration. However, there are some methods to maintain your self replenished all through a exercise. First, Davis warns towards overdoing it by pre-loading with salt earlier than train, since many Americans eat an excessive amount of salt anyway. (In reality, 90 % of Americans have an excessive amount of sodium, in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
Higgins—who runs marathons himself and takes SaltStick Caps an hour into his runs, and each 30 minutes after that—says that maintaining that salt consumption all through an intense exercise might help your efficiency. But replenishing after you train is essential, too. “You’re still going to be producing sweat and cooling down after,” Higgins says. “So it’s important to keep drinking fluids after you exercise as well.”
Salt is essential for intense exercises or endurance athletes, however when you aren’t consuming sufficient water within the first place, the salt will not be capable of do its job. Higgins recommends consuming 16 ounces of water earlier than your exercise and sipping a number of ounces each 15 minutes all through. The salt can come in useful right here, too, primarily by making you thirstier so that you drink extra water.
But watch out about how a lot salt you absorb, because the physique will solely take in what it wants, sending the remaining to your bowels the place, if in case you have an excessive amount of, it might flip to diarrhea. Salt drugs or tablets with round 200 milligrams of salt are a protected guess, Higgins says (his favorites are 215 milligrams).
That’s why Higgins particularly stresses to not have salt earlier than a typical, average exercise of 30 minutes or so, because it could lead to stomach troubles. Davis says it may be like dropping a salt bomb in your intestine.
The backside line: Use salty candies or salt tablets for intense, endurance workouts, which is when you actually need it. Any greater than that and it could possibly be like rubbing salt within the wound.