There’s no scarcity of neon-colored sport and electrolyte drinks sitting on retailer cabinets. Those bottles are crammed with guarantees of improved bodily efficiency, quicker exercise restoration and fewer fatigue.

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But is guzzling down electrolyte-loaded drinks truly good for you? They may be in the event that they’re consumed on the proper time, says sports activities well being dietitian Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CCSD, LD.

So, let’s break it down.

What is an electrolyte?

Electrolytes are important minerals that assist deliver steadiness to your physique. Your cells use electrolytes to conduct electrical expenses that preserve your inner techniques operating at peak effectivity.

These minerals play a job in sustaining your physique’s fluid ranges, turning vitamins into vitality and supporting mind operate, coronary heart rhythm and muscle management.

So clearly, electrolytes are a BIG deal. Thankfully, your physique can keep its provide of electrolytes by what you eat and drink, says Patton. Three minerals which might be key electrolytes are:

Losing electrolytes

Even although you routinely change spent electrolytes by your weight-reduction plan, it’s very straightforward to deplete your physique’s stock of those important minerals and create an imbalance.

A tricky exercise, as an illustration, can drain your electrolytes sweaty drop by sweaty drop. An sickness can also take electrolyte ranges down a couple of notches, notably when you’re experiencing a fever, diarrhea or vomiting.

Dehydration usually goes hand in hand with the lack of electrolytes, notably within the examples talked about above. “Whether you’re sweating from exercise or sweating from a fever, you’re losing electrolytes and fluid — and over time it will cause dehydration,” says Patton.

That can result in muscle cramps, complications, mind fog and an general awful feeling.

The advantages of sports activities drinks

Sports drinks are formulated to shortly replenish misplaced electrolytes and rebalance your system — notably after a exercise session.

Many sports activities drinks comprise 250 milligrams or extra of sodium, your physique’s most considerable electrolyte. That hit of sodium is BIG. In reality, it’s greater than 10% of what’s usually really useful in your every day sodium consumption. (Learn extra about sodium in sports activities drinks.)

Electrolytes similar to potassium, magnesium and chloride additionally usually seem on sports activities drink diet labels and ingredient lists.

When to make use of sports activities drinks

Not each exercise wants to finish with a raised sports activities drink, cautions Patton.

If you’re figuring out for an hour or much less with average depth below regular climate situations, water is usually all it’s worthwhile to rehydrate. “H2O will get the job done in most cases,” she says.

But you would possibly wish to take into account an electrolyte-enhanced sports activities drink after or throughout your exercise if:

  • You’re exercising for greater than an hour or with elevated depth. (There are even specialty drinks for endurance and ultra-endurance athletes with greater ranges of electrolytes.)
  • It’s very popular exterior, which may flip your sweat glands into taps.
  • You’re naturally a heavy sweater who creates puddles the place you stand.

A sports activities drink additionally may be useful if you’re sick with the intention to preserve hydration and electrolyte ranges the place they should be. (Consider zero- or low-calorie choices if you’re in poor health to reduce consumption of sugar, which may work towards your physique’s pure infection-fighting course of.)

Should children drink sports activities drinks?

It’s finest to not make sports activities drinks a go-to choice for kids.

Kids taking part in bodily exercise usually don’t want the additional increase provided by sports activities drinks, in keeping with the American Academy of Pediatrics. Drinking water is commonly sufficient to handle any potential dehydration.

(However, these guidelines may be bent in case your little one participates recurrently in endurance or high-intensity sports activities. Set the bar excessive, although.)

In basic, kids gulp down sports drinks too much. Research reveals that many kids usually select these colourful and extremely marketed drinks for fundamental refreshment as a substitute of nutrient replenishment functions.

Drinking sugar-sweetened sports activities drinks as a easy beverage provides pointless energy to your every day weight-reduction plan and might contribute to weight problems. (Many take into account additional weight for the youthful era a public well being disaster.)

If your little one is sick, it’s finest to go for an oral rehydration answer (similar to Pedialyte®) formulated for children as a substitute of a sports activities drink. They’re usually decrease in sugar and better in electrolytes.

Final ideas

Sports drinks serve a particular goal. After a troublesome exercise, sipping (or chugging) one down can assist restore your physique’s electrolyte ranges and preserve you from experiencing the consequences of dehydration.

But do not forget that sports activities drinks are specialty drinks. It’s not one thing to seize if you’re simply thirsty. (Besides, it’s additionally attainable to overdo it and eat too many electrolytes — and that’s not a superb factor.)

“During or after a long workout, a sports drink is a great choice to ensure proper hydration for maximum performance and recovery,” says Patton. “That’s where you’re going to see the benefits.”

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