BY STEVE BORN
Proper fueling during exercise requires more than replenishing calories and fluids; it involves consistent and adequate electrolyte support as well. Electrolytes are comparable to the motor oil in your car - they don't make the engine run, but they're absolutely necessary to keep everything running smoothly. Proper functioning of the digestive, nervous, cardiovascular, and muscular systems depends on adequate electrolyte levels.
Muscle cramping, though there are many theories as to why it happens, most often involves improper hydration and/or improper electrolyte replenishment. No one wants to cramp, of course, but remember, cramping is a place far down the road of electrolyte depletion. Cramping is your body's painful way of saying, Hey! I'm on empty! Resupply me now or I'm going to stop! It's like the oil light on the dash; you never want to allow the oil level to get that low because what happens next is the engine seizes.
That's precisely why you shouldn't wait for cramps to remind you to take electrolytes. Just as you shouldn't wait until you bonk before you refuel, or you're dehydrated before you replenish fluids, your fueling regimen should always include these essential minerals and replenish them consistently.
Unfortunately, many athletes mistakenly focus only on salt (sodium chloride), not understanding that the body's requirements are a bit more complex. You need full-spectrum electrolyte replenishment that not only includes salt, but calcium, magnesium, and potassium as well. Optimal performance requires a consistent, adequate, and BALANCED supply of these important nutrients.
When athletes rely solely on salt, or if they consume too much salt at the expense of other electrolytic minerals, they neutralize and even shut off the very mechanisms already built into the body that permit it to re-circulate - and thus conserve - its stores of sodium. Once the body detects that it's receiving too much sodium from an outside source (salty foods, salt tablets, electrolyte products containing excess sodium), the hormone aldosterone signals the kidneys to stop filtering and recirculating sodium. This forces the body to deplete even more sodium - much more than it normally would (that's not going to help performance!) - while another hormone, vasopressin, begins to predominate, causing undesired and unpleasant fluid retention.
Other symptoms associated with electrolyte imbalance include muscle aches, spasms, headaches, joint pain, dizziness, and digestive issues. These are all things that you definitely want to avoid when you're exercising.
Proper electrolyte replenishment during endurance exercise requires a gradual, consistent replenishment that incorporates ALL of the electrolytes, not just sodium. It also requires receiving them in amounts that support, but do not override, normal body mechanisms.
Fortunately, Hammer Nutrition's Endurolytes, Endurolytes Extreme, and Endurolytes Fizz do just that, and they're ready to work for you! Endurolytes are balanced, full-spectrum electrolyte products designed to fulfill the body's electrolytic mineral requirements, optimizing specific bodily functions, enhancing endurance performance, and helping you to avoid the unpleasant issues associated with electrolyte imbalance. No matter what the weather the throws at you, one of Hammer Nutrition's Endurolytes products has you covered!