Electrolytes? Why, Yes Please!

It’s cold outside and winter base training has begun. Some are still amidst their CX season, and those of us without cross bikes who seem to be less on the wild side and not so eager to ride in the cold mud are probably hitting the trainer, rollers, or even spin class. Regardless of your choice for self-inflicted pain, there is an aspect of your training and riding that is not nearly emphasized enough through this time of year…hydration. Many times we don’t drink as much water because we don’t get the same sensations for thirst as we do during our typical Texas summer. Sometimes we don’t WANT to drink too much because it’s too inconvenient to peel off all those layers when nature calls. One thing we cannot deny is that although we don’t always realize it, our bodies still sweat, even when it’s 30 something degrees out. And really, our bodies are working pretty hard to keep us warm. When it’s cold outside the air tends to be much drier, which can also lead to dehydration.

With under four weeks to go till Christmas I would like to introduce secret training weapon number three…elete electrolyte add-in! But first, let’s talk a little bit about these wonderful and yet very misunderstood things called electrolytes. So what are electrolytes anyway?

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“Electrolytes are certain minerals (i.e., calcium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, sodium ions) essential to human health. As an essential mineral, an electrolyte cannot be substituted by any other nutrient in the diet. That means that your body will only accept that particular mineral or electrolyte.
Without electrolytes, you could not move, think, or live. Within the body, electrolytes are dissolved in body fluids. In terms of hydration, electrolytes are responsible for directing water (and nutrients) to the areas of the body where its needed most and maintaining optimal fluid balance inside the cells. Besides maintaining fluid balance, electrolytes help your muscles to contract and relax and assist in the transmission of nerve impulses from your nervous system to different body parts.”

“Studies show that repletion of one important electrolyte—magnesium—has a significant impact on athletic performance. Moderately trained athletes who took magnesium supplements showed decreased blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen intake. Triathletes supplementing with extra magnesium demonstrated improved cycling, swimming, and running times.
Population studies consistently show that most adults do not get enough magnesium in their diet.”

Three and a half years ago Carlos and I set out to race the Northshore 100 MTB race put on by The Spinistry. It was a 100 mile race in the middle of August when temperatures were easily in the 100’s. We opted to race this as a co-ed team and honestly and truly, we had no idea what the heck we were getting ourselves into. I’ll spare you the details and the super long story of the race and the fact that EVERYTHING that could have gone wrong did…lots of lessons learned that day! In the months leading up to this race we would train in the middle of the day, and as the parking lot was always empty for the exception of our truck, we seemed to be the only crazies willing to ride in the treacherous heat. Around this time is when we discovered elete. Someone happened to post on our local DORBA forum about this stuff and how awesome it was for cramps. So we did some research and even found that many of our troops who were overseas were using elete, and the cases of muscle cramping and fatigue decreased significantly. We ordered a bottle and since then have been true believers of using a balanced electrolyte formula for endurance training and elete has been our top choice. What separates elete from the common sugar-loaded sports drinks is that it doesn’t contain calories, so you can choose where you want your calories to come from and what works with your body. It also doesn’t contain flavorings, sweeteners, colors or sugar. You can use it in a hydration pack and don’t have to clean it out any differently than if you had just water. It leaves no residue. We add elete to all of our water year round.

“Elete instantly delivers important electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, sodium, and chloride to your body. elete CitriLyte Add-In contains sodium, potassium, magnesium, and chloride, plus zinc and citric acid, which participate in the Krebs energy cycle for energy conversion.”

Most of the typical electrolyte formulas on the market provide only minimal doses of electrolytes and some even leave out some of the most essential minerals like magnesium and chloride which are both crucial for enabling normal muscle relaxation and contraction, amongst many other benefits that they provide. Magnesium intake also decreases inflammation. That is big news right there! Foods high in magnesium include: dark, leafy greens such as chard, beet greens and kale, Brazil nuts, squash, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, kidney, pinto and green beans, avocados, Quinoa, millet, whole grain brown rice, bananas, dark chocolate, peanut butter, sweet corn and dried fruits such as raisins, dates and apricots.

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Rarely do we struggle with cramping anymore, and if we do it is generally our own fault and could have totally been prevented. Sometimes it’s hard to get in the amount of water our bodies really need to perform and be competitive. If you were to take a look at any top athlete in any given sport, I would put money on the fact that they’ve all developed good habits and through the years they have learned to be consistent with these habits. Consistency is the key to any area of life that we want to excel at from your family, your job, your passions, and your health. So consistently drinking water to maintain a healthy electrolyte balance is a habit that we are continuously working to improve on.

If you want to learn more about the single electrolytes in elete, and what science has to say about their role in health you can click here. Elete makes a great gift and even better stocking stuffer for any athlete, friend or family member who is active, or works outside. This is the perfect weekend to swing by Plano Cycling and Fitness to pick some up, as they’re one of the few local places you can find it. While you’re there, take advantage of their Three Day Black Friday sale!

And don’t forget your pocket flask when attending all those wonderful holiday parties…add a couple of drops to your favorite adult beverage! 😉

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