Our bodies regulate heat through perspiration or sweat. But when the body sweats, it also removes dissolved minerals in those fluids as well, leading to a serious condition we know as dehydration. This dehydration will impact performance.
Studies indicate that fluid losses of just 2% of our body weight will impact heat regulation. At 3% loss of body weight from sweat, there is a decrease in muscle cell contraction times. When fluid losses equal 4%, there is a 5-10% drop in overall performance which can last up to four hours.
Lost in the perspiration of the body are electrolytes and essential minerals. Electrolytes, are electrically charged ions that help carry oxygen in red blood cells to muscles, brains, and throughout the body. Mineral replacement is essential to restore proper blood volume. Without them the quality of performance during long-term or explosive short-term exercise decreases.
Another benefit of electrolytes with regard to hydration is that it helps athletes maintain a higher blood volume. Higher blood volumes help to prevent body temperature and heart rate from rising during prolonged exercise.
While sodium is a key component in increasing blood volume, a study published in the Journal of Athletic Training found that the amount of sodium has less of an impact. According to the study, high-sodium sports drinks were no more effective than a low-sodium sports drink in regulating body temperature and preventing "cardiac drift" (rising heart rate during prolonged exercise).
Most athletes think that hydrating with sodium or potassium are the only minerals we need to replace during exercise. That's wrong.
According to specialist in sports nutrition, Nina Anderson, there are a host of essential minerals which are necessary for the entire body and brain to function properly. These should include the trace minerals such as: copper, magnesium, zinc, chromium, cobalt, selenium, iodine and others.
During long periods of activities, experts often recommend individuals 'drink to thirst'. While this varies by individual, most people fall between 14 to 18 fluid ounces per hour of exercise.
Keep in mind some individuals will sweat more than others. And fluid losses will be higher in heat and humidity.
It's important for athletes and active individuals to be aware of the importance of minerals to rehydrating during activities. But its equally important to realize that the mineral in the body are not only sodium and potassium.
Trace minerals play critical roles within the body's balanced ecosystem. Its important for endurance athletes to consume an electrolyte source that contains a broad array of essential trace minerals to help regulate blood volume and maintain proper brain and muscle function during endurance training.
If you would like to learn more about electrolyte and carbohydrate replacement for athletes, download the free publication "Runners Guide To Electrolyte and Carbohydrate Replacement" on our website.
One of the most challenging aspects of long-distance races, whether in hot, humid conditions or colder temperatures, is managing your fluid intake. It doesn't matter how fit you are or how smartly you pace yourself - your body simply can't perform if it's lacking fluids and the valuable minerals those fluids contain.
Research shows that performance in endurance events, like running, is reduced as people become dehydrated. Just a 2% loss of body weight has an impact on performance. Symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration include headache, dry mouth, feeling light headed or dizzy, and feeling thirsty.
The International Marathon Medical Directors Association has suggested that during a marathon runners should drink about 400-800 ml of fluid per hour, with the upper level being in warmer environments for faster and heavier runners.
Water alone isn't enough. During marathons and long distance events, athletes also need to replenish the electrolytes (trace minerals) that are lost due to perspiration, and consume a calorie source for fuel.
Boston Marathon qualifier, Sara Randolph found that adding a few sprays of a broad-based electrolyte concentration in her hydration pack kept her hydrated. She said, "I would grab some water from the aid station...and add the (electrolyte) spray after I cleared the congestion of the aid station. It worked great!"
During the Los Angeles Marathon, Sara encountered hot, humid conditions on the course. She said, "I saw many runners cramping throughout the race, but I had no problems during or after the race at all. The electrolyte bottle was easy to carry in my fuel belt pouch and easy to squirt into the water bottles while running."
Most courses have a sponsored product for hydration at the regular water stations along the course. But beware if consuming high amounts of these products during long races. Your digestive system can’t process all that sugar efficiently, which may lead to cramps and side stitches. Coach Jeff Gaudette, former professional marathon runner and founder of Runners Connect, says "When ingesting a gel/gummy/bar make sure you always take it with water, not Gatorade". Both Gatorade and GU’s contain high amounts of simple sugars. Combining the two at the same time means you may be ingesting too much simple sugar at once.
For marathon runners, and other endurance athletes, there are healthier and better alternatives to sugary sports drinks. EnduroPacks liquid electrolytes are a convenient way to add 13 minerals into any water bottle, without the sugar, artificial sweeteners, and extra calories of a sports drink.
To learn more about hydration replacement alternatives visit http://bit.ly/1Lkkkk0.
Green food based supplements are veggies, fruits, algaes and/or grasses that have been compacted and distilled into powdered form. They typically contain an assortment of nutrient rich foods like barley grass, wheat grass, spirulina, chlorella, alfalfa, herbs, vegetables, legumes, and fruits. Greens supplements can function as a serving of fruits and vegetables, and contain vitamins, minerals, fibre, and phytonutrients.
Green food-based nutrients found in Kelp, Alfalfa, Spirulina, Wheat Grass, Chlorella, and Green Tea have been shown to support bodily functions, boost energy, and eliminate toxins such as heavy metals. Healthy green foods have also been shown to support cellular metabolism, and because they are naturally alkaline, they help to neutralize excess acidity which is a common problem in many diets.
For people that exercise, supplementing your diet with greens supplements can benefit energy, recovery, antioxidant status, and bone health. Greens are very alkaline and can help to balance dietary acids.
Regular exercise training can increase acid production in the body due to repeated muscle contractions. You can enhance your recovery with alkalizing foods, along with protein. If you consume a lot of protein without fruits and veggies it can compound acid production. Thus alkaline foods, like greens supplements, are essential if your fruit and vegetable intake comes up short.
Greens supplements are not a substitute for actual food, but greens supplements can be helpful for days when whole fruits and vegetables aren’t available, such as when you are traveling or have limited options for food.
Active individuals should be aware of the acute effects of dehydration on performance. With just a 2% loss of water in the body, heat regulation becomes impacted. With a 3% drop in body weight from water loss, muscle cell contraction is impacted. And at 4% loss, there is 5-10% reduction in overall performance that can last up to 4 hours.
A 2015 study, "The effects of dehydration on muscle metabolism and time trial performance during prolonged cycling in males," by the Canadian Sports Institute of Ontario looks at the effects of dehydration on performance.
Subsequent time trial performance was significantly diminished (13% slower) when subjects began 2.3% and ended 3.1% dehydrated. Attention needs to be paid to hydration strategies and cooling strategies during workouts.
If you are not hydrating during exercise or activities such as hiking or biking, you can compromise the body's ability to function properly.
But with the loss of water (H2O) also results in dissolved minerals and electrolytes exiting the body's bloodstream through perspiration, natural respiration, and other forms of water loss.
Hydrating with proper electrolytes during exercise helps athletes maintain a higher blood volume, which in turn keeps body temperature and heart rate from rising during prolonged exercise.
Research has shown that sodium does indeed lead to higher blood volume. However, a study published in the Journal of Athletic Training found that the amount of sodium has less of an impact. High-sodium sports drinks were no more effective than a low-sodium sports drink in regulating body temperature and preventing "cardiac drift" (rising heart rate during prolonged exercise).
With loss of fluid you lose electrolytes, sodium and potassium, as well as essential trace minerals. According to Certified Specialist in Sports Nutrition, Nina Anderson, “trace minerals are very important because they assist in restoring blood volume and the blood sugar levels that are necessary for enzymatic reactions that promote proper blood volume."
Four percent of the human body is composed of 21 macro and electrolyte forming trace minerals that are essential for life. When these mineral levels are insufficient and can’t meet the demands of the body, you’re going to get substandard levels of performance.
There are few electrolyte products on the market that have all the essential minerals your body needs. Many athletes use salt tabs, but its unlikely that most products contain the trace minerals like boran, celenium, chromium, and others that are essential for prolonged athletic performance.
EnduroPacks offers a liquid electrolyte replacement with 13 natural ionic minerals. In addition to sodium, it contains essential trace minerals that your body needs to re-establish healthy pH levels for immune system health, recovery from injury, and to enhance the uptake of proteins for recovery.
You can listen to more of Nina's Interview about the importance of electrolytes for athletic performance below:
Nina Anderson is an International Sports Science Association certified Specialist in Performance Nutrition (SPN) and a nationally acclaimed researcher, author, television, and radio personality. She has been an active researcher in the nutrition field for over 20 years and has co-authored 18 books, including Low Carb and Beyond, Nutritional Leverage for Great Golf and Analyzing Sports Drinks. Nina is also the president of Safe Goods Publishing and LJB Piper and has a BA from Monmouth University.
Along with an intense training and proper fueling, a diet rich in organic nutrients can help athletes avoid illness and injury and perform up to their peak come race day.
Here are a few natural supplements that athletes have used to help with training and race day performance.
Multi-vitamin/mineral supplements are typically recommended as “insurance” against dietary gaps in the provision of essential nutrients. Believe it or not, your diet may not provide you with all the vitamins and minerals you need to help with the bodily processes including helping covert food into energy. Minerals are dissolved in liquid and quickly excreted from the body during intense exercise.
Vitamins and minerals (such as vitamins D3, E, and B6) are critical for bodily functions, and without replacement, an athlete's body can break down. For example, vitamin B-12 is a nutrient that helps keep the body's nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. B-12 also helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia that makes people tired and weak.
Liquid forms of both multi-vitamins and minerals will absorb into the stomach and bloodstream faster and more effectively. Also, certain enzymes help your body absorb vitamins and minerals.
Omega-3 essential fat deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies. Only a handful of foods—some types of fish, flaxseeds, walnuts—contain omega-3’s in significant amounts. Consequently, even many healthy eaters don’t get enough of them. Adequate omega-3 intake is needed for healthy cell walls, nervous system function, immune function, and more.
If you regularly eat the few foods that contain large amounts of omega-3’s, you don’t need to take a fish oil supplement. Otherwise, you should. In any case, it can do no harm.
According to a 2000 article by Robert W. Wolfe published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," active individuals, including triathletes, may consume protein and amino acid supplements to promote muscle strength and function.
Wolfe states that the stimulatory effect of amino acids on muscle protein synthesis is greater immediately after exercise than amino acids consumed while at rest, which suggests that the timing of protein supplementation is equally important as the quality of the protein consumed. Amino supplements such as L-glutamine (the largest amino found in the human body) and Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) have been found to help promote protein synthesis.
Our body and brain depends on proper hydration to function optimally. Brain cells require a delicate balance between water and various minerals to operate, and when you lose too much water, that balance is disrupted and your brain cells lose efficiency. Your body can't perform at it's optimal level if the brain isn't functioning properly.
A Specialist in Performance Nutrition, Nina Anderson, recommends using an electrolyte replacement product that replenishes sodium, potassium and trace minerals like Boron, Selenium, and Manganese; that are vital for your brain to function properly.
To get the most from your training be sure you replace the nutrients and minerals that are lost during training. Proper recovery is crucial to improving performance.
We need to hydrate. But how can you hydrate and replace electrolytes without the harmful additives like sweeteners and artificial flavoring that are harsh on your stomach?
Now you can easily add clean electrolytes to your drink for healthy pre-, during-, and post-workout hydration. Just add liquid electrolytes to any drink and avoid the harsh sugary additives and extra calories of most sports drinks.
GI-distress is a common occurrence among athletes who rely on sugar-heavy sports and energy formulas for hydration and carbohydrate replacement.
Sugar is a frequent cause of GI-distress because of the way sugar needs to be broken down by the digestive system.
Liquid electrolytes from EnduroPacks contain zero sugar or sweeteners, and zero additives, so its easy on your stomach.
"It has a very light citrus flavor, unlike the overly sweet products I'm accustomed to. I usually end up with an upset tummy after hours of rehydrating with sugary products! I give this electrolyte replacement Foxxi thumbs up!", Roxanne Gail runner, ultra-runner.
"I will say that the fact that it didn't bother my stomach is definitely my favorite thing. My stomach is pretty touchy- but this was a go!", Nicole runner and RRCA coach
Exercise results in the loss of fluids and essential minerals through perspiration, normal bowel and urinary elimination, and breathing. Failure to rehydrate appropriately during exercise is the main contributing factor to poor performance, particularly in hot and humid conditions.
But drinking water is not enough.
"You need to stay on top of nutrition and hydration and EnduroPacks electrolytes makes it easy to replace the electrolytes I lose from climbing 3 hours up a mountain. I don't have to worry about the negative impact dehydration and electrolyte loss has on performance.", Maria Dalzot, mountain/ultra runner and registered dietitian.
Drinking too much can put yourself in danger of a condition called Hyponatremia. Its a condition when electrolytes become low in the blood stream. Individuals often become so focused on hydrating with water they put themselves at risk of not replenishing enough of the essential minerals in the body.
Enduropacks electrolytes contain 13 naturally-occuring ionic minerals including sodium and potassium, which help to increase blood flow to the heart, muscles, and brain.
"I consume it everyday, all day and I tell everyone I know who is training..they HAVE to incorporate it into their hydration plan.", World Mountain Running competitor and coach Megan Lund-Lizottte.
And because its in a convenient-sized bottle, you can carry it with you anywhere and hydrate throughout the day, wherever the trail takes you.
"The best part about Enduropacks is their ease of use. All you have to do is pump about ten sprays into 16 ounces of water. Then shake the water container and it is ready for consumption. The liquid is almost tasteless, so it is perfect to mix with water. The product contains no sugar, preservatives, or artificial ingredients with zero added calories.", outdoor enthusiast TravelingTed
"During my training I always want to find a way to stay hydrated with all the right minerals, but I don't particularly want all the loaded up sugary calories. The [EnduroPacks liquid electrolytes] is a sugar free, calorie free option, with no added calories, while adding all your needed electrolytes back in...and I haven't cramped once since starting it", Nathan Turner, Ironman triathlete.
"I used it yesterday after my crossfit workout and agin today after my run, and I love it! The flavor is very very light (hint of lemon) if you just want a hint of flavor in your water, and I love how it's all natural ingredients!", Chelsey Langford, CrossFit competitor, runner, and yogi,
Oiselle Team Voleé and USA Triathlon Nationals team member, Allie Burdick was running and looking to finish the NYC Marathon in 3:15. She had trained, and was well prepared, but something happened that nearly forced her to drop out of the race entirely. Her hydration plan had failed her.
Registered dietitian, Nancy Clark is an advocate for personalized nutrition plans based on your dietary needs and training plan. "Nutrition is not a static science", says Clark. "The trick is knowing how many calories you burn per hour and what foods you like to eat that help you refuel after a run."
Nutrition and hydration plans are specific to each runner. Nancy Clark recommends experimenting daily to see what works best for you.
In Allie's pre-race preparation, she allocated over 2 1/2 hours to hydrate and fuel before the start of the race. She drank over 20oz of water, ate a bagel, banana, and two chia bars and felt pretty good up until it was time to move into the starting corrals. Once in the corral she started to feel light headed and dizzy, a warning sign of what was to come.
Soon after passing mile 1, Allie realized she was really hot and still dizzy. She felt off her game but thought it would be best if she started on her nutrition plan early, consuming some GU Chomps and taking in some Gatorade and water. She pushed on until mile 16 when her stomach started to cramp.
Allie's body was starting to shut down. Stomach cramps at mile 16 led to muscle cramps at mile 20 until the finish line. Though she wanted to walk and quit she somehow persevered and finished. What happened? Why did a well-trained athlete like Allie, who had never experienced stomach cramps, or cramps in her legs so bad she wanted to stop, have this happen to her?
Here is Allie's personal account of what happened on race day (read her entire blog here):
As in most marathons, there were many accounts from NYC marathoners who cramped and felt dizzy during a race in which they had trained for extensively. What happened?
Athletes typically address both carbohydrate replacement and fluid replacement during the course of a race, but sometimes neglect the importance of maintaining the proper balance of electrolytes, fluids, and carbohydrates (fuel) in the body to maintain blood flow, muscle contraction, and even brain function.
As mentioned in Electrolytes for Runners: What You Need to Know from Runners Connect, without balanced electrolytes, the body's processes begin to break down. If you are trying to rehydrate by drinking a lot of water, failing to consume electrolytes at the same time can upset the balance of electrolytes in your bloodstream.
Drinking lots of water during a very long race in the heat, for example—this can even lead to a dangerous condition called hyponatremia, where blood sodium levels drop too low. Therefore, keeping your electrolytes and fluids balanced is critical for both performance and health.
The first time I ever ran at altitude was this past winter in Mammoth Lakes, California with the Mammoth Track Club—home to incredible athletes, including one of my role models, Deena Kastor. Mammoth is a special place filled with special people, all of whom I look up to for their athletic prowess and also their sense of joy in life. Also, as many of the runners here are marathoners, I feel lucky to learn about the more distance-side of the sport.
I remember my first day at practice, I watched as all the athletes dropped their pop-top-style water bottles into a bucket for Coach Kastor to distribute at various stages in the training run. I had never seen this before. I remember looking at my own regular screw-top water bottle and feeling I’d missed the pop-top memo. The concept of refueling while running was new to me— the truth was, I’d never taken any fluids during a run before.
I learned the importance of hydration while training at altitude. During our workous and runs, I learned to take fluids every couple of miles just like the others around me. And it’s not just about taking in water, but also electrolytes—this is why I relied on (and continue to rely on) EnduroPacks electrolyte spray.
I found that I was able to run faster and longer by taking fluids during the run—hydration not only to helps sustain the run but also to aid in recovery afterwards—to fuel the next run! Even back in my home training grounds in Eugene, I carry my electrolyte spray with me on longer runs.
I returned to Mammoth this September prepared with my pop-top water bottle and EnduroPacks kit. I ran my longest and fastest long run ever—18 miles. It was crucial for me to be properly hydrated before, during, and after the run. I remember one particular segment of the run, at about 16 miles in—I was running uphill, against the wind, and on soft dirt surface. This was further than my body’s comfort zone was familiar with. I wanted to stop! Suddenly, the team van came into view. Sure enough, there was coach with a water bottle in his hand with my name on it—a sip of electrolytes never tasted so good. I made it through the run with a smile on my face and know that it will fuel me, mentally and physically, for many miles ahead.
I am grateful for all that I have learned training up here. I believe in the work we are doing and also have a greater appreciation for the “details” in running—hydration is one of these details. I believe hydration is a choice, and one I am happily committed to before, during, and after my training.
This article was written and contributed by elite runner and olympic hopeful with the Nike Oregon Track Club Elite Team, Alexi Pappas.