Why We Need Electrolytes When We Sweat

Have you ever wondered why your sweat tastes salty? You’re not only sweating out water but also critical electrolytes.

By Krista Large – May 1, 2023

It’s May, so Austin’s temperatures start to creep into the high 90s. Chances are high that your water consumption is increasing due to the rise in temperature and the amount of sweat your body releases.

You may have heard of electrolytes or seen them in commercial products like Gatorade, but do you know what they do and what they mean for your body? Let’s discuss electrolytes and how they function in the body.

Man sweating

What are electrolytes?

Electrolytes are minerals. The main electrolytes you need are magnesium, potassium, chloride, and sodium. Let’s break each of these down to understand the essential roles in your body.

Magnesium is responsible for over 600 enzyme reactions in the body and helps lower stress and anxiety, converts food to energy and boosts mood through supporting hormone and neurotransmitter production.

Potassium has many roles, especially intracellular fluid balance and cell membrane effects such as muscle contraction, nerve impulse conduction and cell permeability. Potassium helps prevent fatigue and exhaustion, insomnia, painful muscle cramps throughout the day and night, and energy crashes, and it also helps with the transportation of serotonin. This brain chemical promotes feelings of well-being and happiness.

Chloride helps to regulate the amount of fluid and types of nutrients going in and out of the cells. It also maintains proper pH levels, stimulates stomach acid needed for digestion, stimulates the action of nerve and muscle cells, and facilitates the flow of oxygen and carbon dioxide within cells.

Sodium is an extracellular element involved in fluid balance, blood pressure regulation and cell membrane permeability. Though sodium has gotten a lot of hate in the past years, we need this mineral to stay hydrated, maintain physical energy and sleep, and prevent anxiety symptoms for many people.

Why are electrolytes crucial?

As you can see, each of these minerals is critically important for the human body, so what happens if we don’t replace our electrolytes? What kind of impact does it have on our bodies?

In preparation for this article, I decided to interview the mineral man himself, Barton Scott, the founder of Upgraded Formulas — an Austin-based company specializing in nano-stabilized minerals that are 5,000 times smaller than a human cell, making them maximally absorbable.

Barton says many other nutrients aid in the assimilation of electrolytes, including zinc. So why do we need electrolytes, especially when we sweat, and what are the dangers of not replacing these crucial minerals?

Barton says when we don’t adequately replace our minerals, our “performance goes down.” In other words, our ability to balance blood sugar is significantly impaired, which has a cascading effect on our mood. Potassium and sodium especially play a vital role in the function of our adrenal glands. Our body reacts to significant stress when we have overly taxed adrenal glands. Without adequate adrenal function, a person may feel exhausted, run-down, frustrated and tired. Tax adrenals then have a direct negative impact on the thyroid gland, our major metabolic organ controlling body weight and temperature regulation. Coordination also suffers greatly, and reaction time is delayed significantly.

As you can see, replacing the electrolytes in your diet is crucial after sweating, especially if you are playing sports or using therapies like the sauna. The most important thing to consider is absorption. Consuming electrolyte products makes no sense if your body cannot absorb these minerals directly into the cells. Without adequate absorption, your body could remain deficient.

How do you know if you’re deficient in these critical minerals? “Test, don’t guess” is the motto of Upgraded Formulas.

About the Author

Krista Large is a nutritionist, habit coach and online fitness trainer. Her passion in life is teaching others to dream big and live large, which starts with health. Large is an Ole Miss Rebel and runs her own brand and business based here in Austin, Living Large Wellness.

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