Electrolytes are essential minerals found in your blood, sweat, and urine that carry an electric charge. They are crucial for numerous bodily functions, including muscle contractions and nerve signalling, making them particularly important for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. However, not all electrolytes are created equal, and understanding their differences, pros, and cons is vital for optimising performance and recovery. Two recent studies shed light on the complexities of electrolyte supplementation and its impact on athletic performance, offering valuable insights for fitness professionals.

Study Insights

  1. Study from MDPI (Materials 2021, 11(19), 9093): This study delves into the role of different electrolytes in enhancing hydration and overall athletic performance. The research highlights how electrolytes like sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium contribute to maintaining fluid balance, preventing dehydration, and ensuring proper muscle function. The study was conducted by reviewing various electrolyte solutions and their effects on athletes during physical activities. It concluded that a balanced electrolyte solution, tailored to the specific needs of the individual, significantly improves performance and recovery.
  2. Study from PubMed (Nutrients 2014, 6(5), 2073-2092): This research focuses on the impact of electrolyte and carbohydrate supplementation on endurance performance. Conducted through a series of trials involving endurance athletes, the study examined how the intake of electrolytes, combined with carbohydrates, affects exercise duration, performance, and recovery. The findings suggest that consuming a combination of electrolytes and carbohydrates during prolonged physical activity can enhance endurance performance, reduce fatigue, and accelerate recovery.

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Analysis and Practical Tips

Both studies underscore the importance of electrolytes for athletic performance but also highlight the need for personalised hydration strategies. Here are some practical tips for fitness professionals to advise their clients on consuming electrolytes before, during, and after workouts:

  • Before Workouts: Encourage clients to consume a balanced electrolyte drink, especially if they are heading into a prolonged or high-intensity workout. This can help pre-emptively maintain fluid balance and prevent early fatigue.
  • During Workouts: For activities lasting longer than an hour, recommend a drink that contains both electrolytes and carbohydrates. This combination helps sustain energy levels, supports endurance, and maintains electrolyte balance throughout the workout.
  • After Workouts: Post-exercise, the focus should be on recovery. Advise clients to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes with a solution that includes sodium, potassium, and magnesium. This helps to restore fluid balance, supports muscle recovery, and prevents cramping.

Pros and Cons of Different Electrolytes

  • Sodium: Essential for maintaining fluid balance but consuming in excess can lead to hypertension and other cardiovascular issues.
  • Potassium: Supports muscle function and prevents cramps. However, too much potassium can cause hyperkalaemia, affecting heart rhythm.
  • Calcium: Crucial for muscle contractions and bone strength. Excessive calcium can lead to kidney stones and impaired absorption of other minerals.
  • Magnesium: Involved in over 300 biochemical reactions, including muscle recovery. Excess magnesium can cause gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhoea.

Electrolyte management is a critical aspect of sports nutrition that can significantly impact athletic performance and recovery. Fitness professionals should guide their clients in understanding the importance of a balanced electrolyte intake tailored to their individual needs and activity levels. By leveraging the insights from the aforementioned studies, professionals can develop more effective hydration strategies that enhance performance, prevent dehydration, and support overall health.


  • hoi, D.-H.; Cho, J.-Y.; Koo, J.-H.; Kim, T.-K. Effects of Electrolyte Supplements on Body Water Homeostasis and Exercise Performance during Exhaustive Exercise. Appl. Sci. 2021, 11, 9093. Click here to review the full research article
  • Tai CY, Joy JM, Falcone PH, Carson LR, Mosman MM, Straight JL, Oury SL, Mendez C Jr, Loveridge NJ, Kim MP, Moon JR. An amino acid-electrolyte beverage may increase cellular rehydration relative to carbohydrate-electrolyte and flavored water beverages. Nutr J. 2014 May 26;13:47. Click here to review the full research article.

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