Road to #IMWC: Electrolyte & Hydration Importance

Is your pee clear, yellow or brown???

The healthy answer is a hint of yellow…to mostly clear.

There is no ‘exact’ amount of ¬†waterūüí¶ that is applicable to every individual or athlete, however the rule of thumb is 8 glasses of 8oz of water daily. This ¬†amount was theoretically based on the average individual, not exerting themselves and primarily existing. For endurance athletes the amount of hydration is based on the time extended while exerting effort during training, are being made.

Calculations can be made using a basic formula of how much weight is lost during exercise, by weighing yourself before and after you train.

sweat loss = (weight before – weight after) + fluid intake – toilet losses

This will provide the basic amount of fluids needed to support your activity level. This method however doesn’t provide the necessary amounts of electrolytes needed.

Methods to determine the amount of electrolytes needed include blood, urinalysis, and sweat tests. These methods need to be conducted pre and post workouts with intensity and duration considered with ambient temperatures and humidity to be thrown into the mix. Who’s got time for that?

Next best option:

Sweat tests are the latest ‘external’ sodium loss evaluation indicators used by Sport R.D [Registered Dietitians]; however these can be misleading since the salt loss can be attributed to imbalances of intercellular electrolytes, i.e. Potassium, Magnesium, Chloride, Phosphorus.

Precise and accurate  diagnostic evaluations; as described above, requires a few months of data using a few test methods and cross analysis, which most athletes do not have simple access too, the time, and or have the means.

The necessity of electrolyte ‚öĖ balance is critical to the osmolity of cell function and ¬†to the levels of electrolyte losses and re-distribution. The increased levels of necessary energy required by athletes is approximately 30-40% higher then inactive individuals.

When cells have intercellular imbalances the regulation/survival mechanisms go into effect; creating a ‘survival’ and or ‘redistribution’ mode.

Redistribution & Survival

Let’s look at the redistribution stages of minerals first.

‘Redistribution’ of nutrients and minerals is continual through out the cycle of life and supports the daily functionality of our bodies.

In deficient states, needed electrolytes are ‘stored’ crowded housein areas of the body which will be redistributed; and or simply “steal” from Peter to pay Paul while providing the needed mineral or nutrient to balance the cell at the desired site. For instance, if the intercellular levels of magnesium are low, the body will find the most abundant area in the body and ‘redistribute’ the mineral to the needed site.

The survival mode of a cell preserves what is available and what is not stored elsewhere in the body and or needed for critical organ function. The body will redistribute to organs first.


The importance to keep all electrolytes BALANCED and ‘within’ the cells is critical and cannot be brought to the forefront of discussion faster, and or ūüďʬ†loud¬†enough.

magnesium periodic elementWe start with magnesium simply because it is the key mineral to electrolyte functionality and athletes need 20-30% more.

This mineral regulates the sodium and potassium pump within the cell. In the event intercellular magnesium levels are below optimal levels, the body will redistribute and or go into survival. This creates the domino affect of what happens to potassium and sodium within the cells and how the body utilizes the minerals. In the event of too much Sodium, and or Potassium the body does the same thing redistributes and or shuts down to survive.

Mentioned earlier, sweat tests provide an indication of sodium loss, however this can be a false/ positive indication of what is actually occurring ¬†at the cellular level. The intercellular imbalances could be causing ¬†a ‘survival’ mechanism causing the sodium to be repelled from the cells and expelled from the body as sweat.

For instance, not enough intercellular magnesium to tell the cell it needs more intercellular sodium, can potentially shut off the sodium /potassium pump, keeping the cells balanced with optimal electrolytes required for functioning.

mechanism for intracellular magnesium and K+

Too much sodium will be expelled, creating the salt ‘crusteez’ or ‘salt lick’ affect.

Since the body will attempt to create balance it will more than likely try to find more  stored magnesium. Consequently, magnesium being stored primarily in muscles and the skeleton, poses a mineral  imbalance in muscles and potentially causes the symptoms associated with magnesium deficiency: muscle cramping, eye twitching, blood sugar/ digestion issues(bloating), heart irregularities.

The multitude of symptoms created by imbalances of electrolytes is an area of focus every athlete needs to pay important attention too.

Hyponatremia & Hypokalemia are results of electrolyte(Sodium & Potassium) imbalances which have potential to be life threatening. Ask any athlete who has experienced these issues.

Functional vs. Frugal:

Many athletes like to ‘extend the life’ of the electrolyte drink of choice by using less than the recommended scoop level, however the ingredients and dose levels are formulated by companies based on the individual formulators research and understanding of how the synergy of ingredients work together. Understanding the functionality and absorbability of nutrients is where the formulation should start, and then formulated on the latest research available.

The bottom line is to find the most suitable electrolyte formula, with ‘absorbable’ electrolytes/minerals and nutrients required to aid in the electrolyte absorption. Taste is always a factor since drinking compliance is a component to absorption. ¬†Each individual has preferences to taste and what each body requires, so taste testing and requesting samples from marketing companies is always highly suggested.

Please reach out to for answers.

Good luck to all on the Queen K! Aloha!!

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