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by Daniel Burford January 07, 2017

So you have your macronutrient diet on point, and you are getting enough protein, carbohydrates and fat into your training-wrecked system on a daily basis in order to regroup, recuperate and hit it again the next day.

Great. Although, as you might have imagined, macronutrients are only one half of the equation that is nutrition, the other half are the vitamin and minerals essential to your progress in the gym and success on stage.

These are micronutrients, often neglected by novice lifters and misunderstood by even the top tier athletes.

In the following, we are going to discuss the importance of electrolytes in general health as well as our fitness goals.

If you are serious about reaching your goals and transforming your physique, you wouldn’t want to miss this.

Classification of Strong Electrolytes

First of all, it is important to note that electrolytes are molecular compounds that break up into cations and anions when they are dissolved in water. Cations are positively charged ions and anions are negatively charged. These can be classified as strong electrolytes, weak electrolytes and non-electrolytes.

Strong electrolytes ionize completely in water which means that the chemical completely breaks into cations and anions. This does not have to mean that the chemical will completely dissolve in water, however, seeing as how there are some strong electrolytes which are only slightly soluble in water.

On the other hand, this means that a chemical that ionizes anywhere between 0-99.99% is a weak electrolyte.

Hopefully, the nerdier ones among you have had your science fix for today, so let’s put all of this into perspective and why it’s important for you.

The Importance of Electrolytes

Electrolytes are minerals that are crucial to our health, strength, performance and general well being. Often neglected or misunderstood by the fitness community, the topic of electrolytes is susceptible to neglect and misinformation.

As you might be suspecting, they are extremely important.

A strong electrolytes list is as follows:

  1. Sodium
  2. Potassium
  3. Chloride
  4. Calcium
  5. Magnesium

These minerals are imperative to normal cell functions in the body.

If you want to stay on top of your game, you should always be aware of your electrolytes intake during the entire day, and especially around your workouts.

Electrolytes deficiency causes all kinds of threatening symptoms such as dehydration, vomiting, nausea, cramping, lack of strength and energy, lack of stamina and performance, dizziness and the inability to breathe properly, among many others.

Conversely, if an athlete consumes ample amounts of electrolytes during the day, he will notice an increase in strength, a clearer mind, positivity, bursts of energy and generally a happier and more productive lifestyle.

While there were some instances where individuals who failed to replace lost electrolytes during the day and after workouts have experienced everything from seizures to death, you shouldn’t generally fear such extreme events as long as you stay on top of your daily electrolyte intake.

Types of Electrolytes used in Bodybuilding

Now, let’s talk about the practical uses of each electrolyte and general daily intake requirements as well as the numerous benefits of electrolytes.

Sodium

Sodium is a complete electrolyte and is responsible for proper muscle contraction and nerve transmissions. The general confusion is that sodium is bad and that it can lead to various health problems, while the truth is everything but.

These misconceptions have been fed to us by the marketing companies for decades, more concerned about selling products than scientific accuracy.

In reality, sodium is one of the most important aspects of an athlete’s diet. One other common misconception is that sodium retains water in the body, when in fact, sodium regulates water levels in our muscles and if we deprive our body of sodium, we will experience excessive water retention due to the hormone aldosterone being released, its function being to preserve as much water in the body due to the lack of sodium.

This is definitely not something you want.

In order to consume enough sodium during the day for your body to function properly keep this in mind: a sedentary individual weighing 65kg needs around 2g of sodium a day. Given the fact that sodium is excreted through sweat, can you imagine what an athlete's daily requirement of sodium might be, especially on a high-intensity training regime?

An individual (male or female) weighing up to 70kg requires a minimum of 4g of sodium a day, while a 90kg athlete will require anywhere between 6-8g. For those that weigh 100kg and more, 8-12 grams of sodium daily is required.

That is a lot, it shows you just how important sodium is to our health.

Electrolytes Source : Sodium

Combine sodium intake with a lot of water and you will be able to prevent all of the negative effects described above.

Chloride

And speaking of water, chloride is mostly found in tap water and can be ingested as well as absorbed through the skin.

Electrolytes Source : Chloride

It is crucial for peak muscle function and proper blood flow.

If you drink and shower with water from municipal water supplies, you should be good.

Potassium

We’ve all heard how bananas and potatoes are full of potassium, but if we were properly informed of its importance, we would surely do our best to consume as much as we can during the day.

Electrolytes source : Potassium

Potassium is responsible for muscle contraction, keeping them from cramping, as well as nerve transmission and glycogen formation.

While there is a pill for everything on the market, including potassium, you are more than able to meet your daily requirements through proper nutrition.

Make sure to eat green vegetables as well as dairy products, and you will reach the daily minimum of 4g easily.

Magnesium

Contrary to its sibling potassium, this mineral is very hard to consume in the right amount during the day.

Electrolytes Source : Magnesium

Rather than tailoring your nutritional plan around magnesium, buy magnesium in crystal form and take a 20-minute bubble bath at least once a week.

Magnesium absorbs best through the skin, and most of the world’s population is magnesium deficient.

By taking a magnesium bath, your body will be rich with a mineral that is responsible for everything from preventing depression to energy production and much, much more.

Calcium

We all know how important calcium is for our bone health and strength, but do we know how important it is for proper cell function as well as training?

Electrolytes source : Calcium

Calcium is mostly found in dairy products. While there are other sources of calcium out there that are not derived from animal byproducts, only calcium from dairy is the kind of calcium our body responds to and unfortunately, it cannot be substituted by any other calcium source.

Eating dairy products on a daily basis will ensure you get your minimum requirement of 2 grams.

You can find everything about strong electrolytes as well as complete tailored nutrition plans in my 12 Week Lean Muscle Transformation Program which will guide you through the best, healthy diets to a lean and muscular physique, and enable you to be strong and healthy, lose fat and build muscle at the same time and transform your life!

Daniel Burford
Daniel Burford

Daniel Burford is the founder of Hustler Fitness and the SHREDDED Program, a 12 week program that helps men build muscle, lose fat and get shredded. Check it out by clicking here. For training, nutrition & supplement tips, follow Hustler Fitness on Facebook & Instagram.


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