Athletes should be aware of the acute effects of dehydration on athletic 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.
This study demonstrated that both carbohydrate oxidation and muscle glycogen use were greater during 90 minutes of moderate intensity exercise when subjects progressively dehydrated from 0.6% to 2.3% of body mass (BM), versus maintaining body mass through drinking.
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.
As an athlete, if you are not hydrating during exercise, you are compromising the body. 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 an 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.