Going beyond hydration and sweat
What’s in the sweat?
While a lot of people tend to think of sweat as water, sweat is actually full of minerals and electrolytes our bodies need to keep going. That means that when we sweat, we’re not only losing water, we’re losing important nutrients such as:
And it’s no small amount either. Research shows that if we’re sweating heavily, we’ll lose 1 to 8 percent of your body mass.
Why sweat it?
Much of what our bodies lose through sweat, such as sodium and potassium, are called electrolytes. Simply put, “electrolytes” is a medical term for salt. Our bodies need salts to keep our levels of fluids balanced and to carry electrical impulses to our cells.
If our bodies get low on sodium and potassium, our electrolyte concentration gets skewed, affecting everything from our brain function and heart rhythm to proper functioning of our muscles. Many athletes who are low on sodium end up with muscle cramping—not a fun way to end your workout.
Why a sports drink?
When water leaves our bodies, either through sweat or urine, so do electrolytes.
While drinking water will hydrate you, water alone won’t replenish the electrolytes you lose during intense workouts. And the more you sweat, the more electrolytes you lose.
To replace those critical electrolytes and ensure your body continues to function properly, most sports drinks have sodium and potassium added to them. Drinking a sports drink during a workout will replenish your electrolytes and keep your electrolyte concentration where it needs to be.
Not only do sports drinks replenish your electrolytes, but sodium chloride and other solutes in the drinks also help reduce the amount of water you urinate. When you’re urinating less, you’re losing fewer electrolytes down the drain and your body can recover its fluid balance faster.
So the next time you hit the gym for an intense workout, consider grabbing a sports drink. Your electrolytes (and your bladder) will thank you.