Runners Guide To Electrolytes

Multi-electrolyte replacement is critical for sports enthusiasts. High volume oxygen intake during athletic exertion oxidizes blood cells faster than normal and increases the change of anemia. Electrolytes are the ultimate oxygenator of all living cells through a process known as bio-oxygenation. The building of muscle and the production of energy draws on chromium, acting as a cofactor to insulin. It also promotes the entrance of glucose and amino acids into the cells to make muscle. A loss of potassium can cause dizzy spells or lightheadedness, especially during exertion in hot weather.

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Kris Lawrence is an elite marathoner with a goal of qualifying for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.  On her blog, http://kris-lawrence.com, she writes, "...I’ve made a promise to myself to give it my all, accept the good and hard times, appreciate all those who support me, and enjoy every moment along the way..."  Her positive attitude, perseverance and dedication to her training have helped her cut her marathon time from 3:16:24 to 2:47:09 in just a few short years.  

Learning To Listen To Your Body

If you run/train long enough you've probably had your fair share of "niggles" (pains) or injuries.  It's a part of training, an unfortunate byproduct of the sport that we love (and hate) so much.  Unfortunately, Kristin suffered a slight tibia (shinbone) fracture, which set her training back 9 weeks.  If you've ever had a fracture you know how painful, and annoying, this injury can be.  

When it comes to marathon training Kristin says, "Marathon training is like putting together a 1000 piece puzzle. You know what you want the end result to look like but when you dump the pieces out of the box, it’s entirely overwhelming.  You keep working anyway and every once in awhile you look and realize you have a part of that picture made and it starts to make sense..."  

Having a plan and listening to your body are two key components when it comes to training.  Kristin is healthy again and back on her training program for the Boston Marathon.  Kristin's training program consists of stretching, core work, strength training, tempo runs, easy mileage building runs and recovery.

Focusing On Recovery

Running fast workouts and putting in hard efforts is a key part of the training process. However, one of the most often neglected aspects of training, especially since runners are almost always obsessed with pushing harder each day, is the recovery process.

What sets elites apart from amateurs is the amount of time and effort invested in recovering properly. As an elite runner, Kristin knows that hydrating properly, before and after her runs, is a key component to her recovery.  

You lose a lot of fluid during exercise and ideally, you should be replacing it during exercise, but filling up after exercise is an easy way to boost your recovery. Water supports every metabolic function and nutrient transfer in the body and having plenty of water will improve every bodily function. Consuming an electrolyte substance post-workout is even more important for endurance athletes who lose large amounts of water during hours of sweating.

After depleting your energy stores with exercise, you need to refuel if you expect your body to recover, repair tissues, get stronger and be ready for the next challenge. This is even more important if you are performing endurance exercises day after day or trying to build muscle. Ideally, you should try to eat within 30-60 minutes of the end of your workout and make sure you include some high-quality protein and complex carbohydrates. A diet of essential proteins and amino acids can help repair muscle tissue and help avoid injury and reduce muscle soreness. There are 8 essential amino acids that are not produced naturally in the body, but need to be replaced by foods or through daily supplements. Here is an article by active.com on nutrition recovery for endurance athletes http://bit.ly/1lSeOtm .

Kristin, and other elites will tell you the most important thing you can do to recover quickly is to listen to your body. If you are feeling tired, sore or notice decreased performance you may need more recovery time or a break from training altogether. If you are feeling strong the day after a hard workout, you don't have to force yourself to go slow.

If you pay attention, in most cases, your body will let you know what it needs when it needs it.

The sports drink market includes a flurry of bottled drinks, mixes, and electrolyte supplements. The marketing goals appear to be focused on rehydration and increased sports performance. While most companies producing the products seem to embrace the value of electrolytes, they may not have delivered the proper complement of ingredients for maximum electrolyte formation and absorption.

Are Sports Drinks Necessary?

While Gatorade was invented in 1965 by the medical team for the University of Florida Gators, it wasn't until 1991 when sports drinks really launched in popularity. 

Today, Gatorade has plenty of competition, but do you really need any of them to enhance your workout? Yes, if you're exercising longer than 60 minutes — or less than that but very intensely.  "Water provides no sodium, which helps the body hold onto water and helps fluid get to the right places in the body, like muscles and blood," says nutritionist Heidi Skolnik, M.S., CDN, FACSM, who advises both the New York Giants and the New York Knicks on healthy eating as well as drinking. 

Risks Associated With Sports Drinks

Many sports drinks on the market claim to be healthy for you but contain certain preservatives, artificial flavors and colored dyes, aspartame and sugar that add to the visual or taste appeal of the drink, but may not be user-friendly to the body.  

In addition to its usefulness after exercise to replenish glycogen stores, sugar (fructose, dextrose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin) is usually added as a carbohydrate to boost energy levels.  "While this may stimulate the body momentarily, minutes later the glycemic roller coaster sets in with associated compromise in body function. Muscle-testing (Kinesiology), used by chiropractors and natural medicine practitioners, reveals that sugar actually diffuses the body’s ability to maintain muscle strength; therefore, it does not seem wise to use it when periods of strength are required", says sports nutritionist, Nina Anderson (SPN) of Safe Goods Publishing.

Alternative To Sports Drinks

For any sports workout lasting more than 60 minutes, athletes are recommend to consume pure electrolyte drinks with the proper complement of minerals.  If you need a boost for short term energy or glycogen replacement, you may want to choose a drink containing less than 8 percent carbohydrates or take an ATP booster like rhodiola.  As a general rule, the higher the carbohydrate content, the slower the absorption rate of electrolytes and nutrients. 

For additional information on this topic, visit our website to reference a full publication.

 

We Know Electrolytes Are Important for Hydration, But Why? 

Your body is a complex and carefully-balanced superhighway of cells, tissues, and fluids that, almost every second, directs an incomprehensible array of electrical impulses. This is only possible because those cells, tissues, and fluids thrive in a homeostatic environment where they conduct electricity well enough to carry the signals to their intended destinations.

What Are Electrolytes?

Electrolyte is a “medical/scientific” term for mineral salts, specifically ions. Electrolytes are the spark that keeps our body running. They are necessary for life. They are important because they are what your cells (especially nerve, heart, muscle) use to maintain voltages across their cell membranes and to carry electrical impulses (nerve impulses, muscle contractions) across them- selves and to other cells.

Deficiencies Cause Bodily Functions To Slow Down And Eventually Stop

These electro-chemicals influence the body’s pH — a chemical balance that determines how effectively the biological systems run. When there is a deficiency of body electricity, body functions slow down and eventually stop. Micronutrients play an important role in energy production, hemoglobin synthesis, maintenance of bone health, adequate immune function, and the protection of body tissues from oxidative damage. They are also required to help build and repair muscle tissue following exercise.

Electrolytes facilitate delivery of oxygen to achieve and maintain peak brain function and proper nervous system response. The constant firing of micro-electric impulses across the synapses of the brain requires a great deal of energy. Only electrolytes can supply this. If, because of electrolyte imbalance, there isn’t enough oxygen available for the nerve cells to fire when needed, the brain functions less effectively. The body uses oxygen to turn nutrients into energy through the process of primary oxygenation. This simply means that electrolytes help the oxygen create a chemical reaction that ultimately allows the body to “burn” the nutrients as fuel.

Electrolytes Help Maintain Balance Of Fluids For Hydration, Nerve Impulses, Muscle Function, and pH Levels During Exercise

There are several common electrolytes found in the body, each serving a specific and important role, but most are in some part responsible for maintaining the balance of fluids between the intracellular (inside the cell) and extracellular (outside the cell) environments. This balance is critically important for things like hydration, nerve impulses, muscle function, and pH level.

Approximately 4% of the human body mass is composed of 21 macro and trace minerals that are essential for life. When mineral levels are insufficient to meet the demands of the body under emotional, physiological, and psychological stresses (such as during physical activity), the result will most likely be a substandard level of performance. For athletes or weekend exercisers, this increases the risk of serious injury and reduces the recovery rate after strenuous work or exercise.

Are More Electrolytes Better Than Less?

Sports drinks and supplement manufacturers who claim their electrolyte-forming minerals facilitate proper rehydration may be only partially correct. Macro and trace minerals work in combination to provide the proper environment for electrolyte formation and maximum absorption. According Dr. Gerald Olarsch, N.D., if there are too few trace-minerals in a drink they will be unable to form the proper electrolyte balance to enter the cell and maximize rehydration. 

To find out which trace minerals are important for proper balance during exercise, read the publication titled: "Analyzing Sports Drinks: Carbohydrate or Electrolyte Replacement", by sports nutritionist, Nina Anderson (SPN) of Safe Goods Publishing. The full version PDF is available here: http://www.enduropacks.com/pages/electrolyte-and-carbohydrate-replacement-for-endurance-athletes

 

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SODIUM FACT: Sodium acts together with POTASSIUM to maintain proper body water distribution and blood pressure (which is important for endurance athletes), and is therefore a key component for rehydration.

Sodium is key for hydration

SODIUM is also important in maintaining the proper pH balance and to facilitate the transmission of nerve impulses. People with pronounced losses of sodium through heavy perspiration or diarrhea may experience decreased blood volume and a fall in blood pressure that could result in shock. 

EnduroPacks Concentrated electrolyte spray
EnduroPacks, Inc. offers the highest quality sports nutrition to aid in the recovery and performance of endurance athletes. After extensive research by its team of professional athletes and industry experts, EnduroPacks has identified the most effective products in the most efficient forms. Each pack contains a 30-day supply of four essential products, a Liquid Multivitamin, Concentrated Electrolyte Spray, Essential Amino Recovery Patch, and the L-Glutamine Recovery Complex. EnduroPacks products are GLUTEN-FREE, manufactured in the USA, contain no GMOs, and are 100% vegetarian.

Tina Muir, Elite distance runner and EnduroPacks ambassador shows us some tips to her success with her 8 suspension training system exercises. 

Elite Distance Runner Tina Muir

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Eli Cohen Team Director for Big Pistachio Racing

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