Firstly, let’s define what electrolytes are and why athletes and people who exercise must take them regularly. Electrolytes are mineral salts essential for cell development, generally found in our blood, urine and other bodily fluids.

The most common electrolytes are calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium. They are vital because they help to regulate hydration, acidity and muscle activity. They are available in a variety of forms, such as capsules, gels, powder or drinks containing the mineral salts.

Key Facts

  • You should know that water does not contain electrolytes, so you should obtain them through another source before, during and after exercise.
  • You do not have to be thirsty in order to hydrate. It is important to stay hydrated throughout the day, especially when exercise is integrated into your daily life.
  • There are currently hundreds of products which you can use to hydrate and replenish electrolytes during and following exercise; however, not all of them are adequate and effective.

Ranking: The best electrolytes on the Australian Market

Ionized drinks, which advertise themselves as being a method of replenishing electrolytes, are very common these days. They feature heavily in sports advertising. This means that it is important to know the difference between flashy marketing and a useful product. To help you make this distinction, here is a list of the best options on the Australian market:

No. 1: Genius Electrolytes Performance Optimizing Hydration Booster

[amazon box=”B07CS55R5Q” description_items=”0″]

This electrolyte powder from brand Genius is 100% sugar free, and contains no artificial flavours, sweetners, fillers or dyes. This electrolyte supplement contains chelated magnesium, potassium, zinc, organic citric acid and other quality replenishing minerals. With a full dose of potassium bicarbonate (comparable to potassium citrate). This makes it a great choice for anyone looking for a low calorie, sugar-free option to support their training.

The electrolyte powdercan be used before, after or during a workout, simply by dissolving in water. Not only are these electrolytes keto friendly they are 100 percent pure and simple trace minerals. This product is made in the USA, and complies with strict GMP and FDA rules.

No. 2: Code Age Keto Electrolyte Capsules

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Designed for low carb and ketogenic diets, these electrolyte capsules contain zero carbohydrates. Their plant based formula designed to provide your body with electrolyte minerals (sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium). Specific minerals are important to support hydration, replenishment and electrolyte balance. Codeage Keto Electrolytes was designed with ketogenic or low carb dieters but everyone can enjoy electrolytes in their diet.

These capsules contain a blend of sodium, magnesium, potassium and calcium electrolytes, in an easy to swallow form, and are also tasteless and contain no preservatives or sugar.

No. 3: Ultima Replenisher Electrolyte Powder

[amazon box=”B01N66MIYE” description_items=”0″]

This electrolyte powder contains a blend of six electrolytes as well as other minerals which can help you to rehydrate and replenish, whether exercising intensely, recovering from illness, or just to support a busy and hectic lifestyle.

The package contains 30 servings, so should last a month if you are using it every day. It has a pleasant cherry pomegranate flavour, making it easy and even enjoyable to take.

No. 4: EFX Sports Karbolyn Hydrate Performance Carb with Electrolytes

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Karbolyn hydrate is a sports drink designed to support elite performance for athletes. Developed by EFX Sports’ researchers to help athletes rehydrate, fight fatigue, and quickly restore critical electrolytes. EFX supports says that athletes need real fuel, not sugar, for sustained energy and endurance. Karbolyn Hydrate is sugar-free, yet it can power you through the most gruelling workout, competition, or anything that requires extended energy at peak levels.

This electrolyte power aids maximum performance by maintaining a proper balance of key electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium. It contains a precise ratio of the 4 electrolytes (Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, and Phosphate) critical to sports performance and recovery.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about electrolytes

Whenever you take any product to improve your health and wellbeing, it is important to understand what it is and how it works. Companies spend large amounts of money on advertising to promote products which may are may not be suitable for what you need. So you need to know how to work out which will suit your needs.

When we sweat we eliminate harmful substances, but also electrolytes and minerals like magnesium, calcium, zinc and iron.
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What are electrolytes exactly?

Sports Dietitians Australia (SDA) advises that electrolytes are substances which encourage “fluid absorption and fluid retention”. Electrolytes stimulate electrolysis, a chemical process where a given substance is dissolved through the action of an electrical current.

Electrolytes are sometimes also known as ‘ionic solutions’, though they are also found in the form of molten solids. In nature, they are found as solid salts.

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The most common elements found in the human body are sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium and phosphates.

What benefits do electrolytes have for my body?

According to the USA National Library of Medicine’s medical information service MedlinePlus, electrolytes perform various functions in the human body. These include transporting nutrients to the cells, eliminating cell waste and improving muscle function.

Below are the different functions of electrolytes:

  • Balance the pH (acid/base) levels in the body.
  • Transport nutrients to the cells.
  • Remove waste from the cells.
  • Promote the healthy functioning of the muscles, heart and brain.

Is the timing of when you take your electrolytes important?

The answer to this is a resounding yes. When we sweat we lose salt, potassium and chloride, three minerals which are fundamental for the proper functioning of the human body in a variety of ways. For this reason, it is important to replace these electrolytes during and following physical exertion.

We can also lose electrolytes through our urine, faeces and through bleeding, making it important to replenish these essential elements when you are sick, or after a big night of drinking, as alcohol is a diuretic and when you drink too much you dehydrate and lose minerals through constant urination.

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Electrolytes are minerals found in the blood and other bodily liquids which carry an electrical charge.

What effects do each type of electrolytes have?

Our bodies get rid of harmful substances through our sweat. However, when we sweat we also expel electrolytes and important minerals such as magnesium, calcium, zinc and iron. After working out or exercising for long periods, it is critical to recover these electrolytes, because they are essential for regulating the different functions of the human body.

Electrolyte Function
Calcium Essential for proper nerve and muscle function.

The principle component of bones and teeth.

Magnesium Increases physical performance when exercising, is anti-inflammatory, can lower blood pressure and reduce insulin resistance.
Phosphorus Responsible for storing our metabolism’s energy.

Improves nerve and muscle function and is essential for maintaining calcium levels in bones and teeth.

Potassium Necessary for proper cell membrane and muscle function. Also regulates heart rate, kidneys, and is vital for hydration.
Sodium Contributes to the digestive process and the distribution of fluids in the body. Fundamental to muscle and nervous system function.

Does how much you sweat indicate a need for electrolytes?

Sweat, as well as contributing to cooling you down and filtering out harmful substances, can also tell you that you are in need of electrolytes.

Kelly PritchettAssistant professor in nutrition and exercise science, Central Washington University

“Your goal should be to keep your electrolytes at healthy levels during exercise. When you keep your electrolytes at the right level, you ensure that your body can absorb and use whatever fluids you take in, your vital organs function properly and get the most out of each workout.”.

Does taking electrolytes have any adverse side effects?

Again the answer is yes. Everything is harmful if taken in excess, and electrolytes are no exception. The excessive intake of electrolytes can cause have the opposite of the desired effect and actually make you dehydrated because of excess levels of salts. It is easy to recognize the symptoms caused by taking more electrolytes than our body needs.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Dizzyness
  • Vomitting
  • Diarrhea

The excess of potassium in our blood can also lead to hypercalcemia, a chronic kidney disease that is caused by the kidneys being unable to filter high levels of this mineral. Below is the recommended daily dose of electrolytes for adults:

Electrolyte Daily recommended dosage (adults)
Calcium 1,000 mg
Magnesium 400–420 mg for men and  between 310-320 mg for women
Phosphorous 700 mg
Potassium 3,400 mg for men and 2,600 mg for women
Sodium 1,600 mg

Can you take electrolytes in a natural form?

We can give our body all the minerals that it needs with a healthy and balanced diet based on natural products. However, it is difficult to accurately measure the amount of electrolytes we need after strenuous physical activity or when we are unwell, both situations when we lose an unusual amount of fluids, however much we want to monitor our diet.

An important source of calcium is milk and its products, such as cheese and yoghurt. Many of these dairy products also contain sodium, chloride and iodine. On the other hand, magnesium and potassium can be found in green vegetables such as spinach.

Flavour is one of the most important factors when buying electrolytes.
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Shopping criteria

There are many forms in which you can consume electrolytes such as drinks, gels, capsules and powders which can be dissolved in water or in shakes, each providing different amounts of electrolytes. Many of them contain carbohydrates, which give the body energy during strenuous exercise. Some of the issues to consider are:

  • Carb loading
  • Type of electrolytes
  • Calories and protein
  • Taste

Carb loading

For long-term exercises such as cycling or triathlon, or sports that involve intense physical effort, it is recommended to drink isotonic drinks with a high concentration of carbohydrates. These drinks also help when exercising in hot climates, which translates into sweating a lot more.

The amount of carbohydrates you should consume depends on the energy you are expending. What for some is the healthy amount, for others can be harmful. The recommended carbohydrate consumption for a person undergoing a normal level of physical activity is 70 grams per meal, extending between 30 and 60 grams directly after a workout.

Everything can be harmful in excess, and electrolytes are no exception to this rule.
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Type of electrolytes

As previously mentioned, each mineral has its own purpose, so we must take into account the level of activity in order to calculate how much electrolyte we must replace. For example, coconut water is rich in potassium and magnesium, so its consumption is ideal to recover some essential electrolytes after exercising.

Joy DubostBoard-certified sports dietitian based in New York City

“In general, water is only recommended for exercise that lasts up to an hour. If exercising for more than an hour, especially if it’s at a higher intensity (meaning you aren’t stretching for 90 minutes straight), then a sports drink is likely necessary”.

Calories and protein

There are drinks rated at 25 grams that contain 95 calories, 0 proteins and 23 grams of carbohydrates. On the other hand, there are others that with an equal intake contain more than 100 calories, 2 grams of protein and more than 20 grams of carbohydrates. Choosing the right one depends on what you are looking to achieve.

Proteins build and repair muscles, while carbohydrates give us energy in the short term.

Coconut water is rich in potassium and magnesium, meaning that it is ideal for recovering some essential electrolytes lost while exercising.
(Source: Wavebreak Media Ltd: 94584355/ 123rf.com)

Taste

Flavour is one of the most important factors when it comes to getting our electrolytes. In the end, if something is not pleasant to take, it will deter us from taking it and so it is important to find one that not only revitalises us but which we also like the taste of.

Fortunately, there are many flavours available, making a diverse range of available products. There are citrus fruits and tropical flavours. There are also some with vanilla or chocolate flavour.

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Red meat, fish, seafood and all vegetable are also an important source of electrolytes.

Summary

We live in times when taking care of ourselves is synonymous with exercising and eating well. We now have more information about how our bodies really work, the effect of exercise on the human body and nutrients transform us. This has led to an evolution of products designed to help us improve our performance.

These products give the body what it loses naturally in the wear and tear sustained during exercise or through excessive fluid loss, therefore they are critical in bouncing back to 100% after an intense workout or following illness.

For this reason, the sports industry provides a number of products which give us a wide range of options to adapt to our needs with different formats, flavours, presentations and quantity of salts as our body requires.

If you liked our guide on electrolytes, please leave us a comment and share the article.

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