The human body is basically a big battery, and it’s made mostly of water.
Electrolytes are salts that dissolve into positive and negative charges that conduct electricity in water – of which our body is about 70%.
Also known as ions, these charges are crucial because they control the flow of water in our cells and nerve impulses across the body.
In nerve cells, a positive ion sparks off an electrical impulse signalling our bodies to function properly. Electrolytes control the constant impulses to keep our hearts beating, lungs breathing and brains learning.
Electrolytes make sweat salty. When exercising our bodies start to heat up, so the ion channels in our cells push electrolytes into the sweat gland. Osmosis ensures that water follows closely behind. This increases the pressure in the gland, which means the salty mix gets pushed out onto the skins surface. When that water evaporates it pulls the heat off your body, leaving the infamous salty residue behind.
If you lose too many electrolytes your neural system won’t function properly. This can lead to problems with your heart, blood pressure and breathing. The main electrolytes lost during sweat are Sodium and Chloride.
If you’re exercising for less than an hour, water will do just fine. However, if it’s particularly hot or you are working out for more than an hour, you’re going to need to replace those electrolytes to recover and stay charged!