As a runner, fuelling your body effectively is crucial to maintaining your health and boosting performance. On top of a healthy diet and staying hydrated, runners must also replace electrolytes that are lost during workouts. In this article, we look at why electrolytes are important and which is the best electrolyte powder that runners can use to replenish their bodies.
Electrolytes are minerals within the body that help to regulate blood pressure, muscle contractions, and hormones while also balancing fluids. When you lose body fluid through sweat, this causes an electrolyte imbalance. The most common electrolytes that need replenishment include sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
The amount of electrolytes to replace will vary depending on the length and difficulty of the run, environmental factors, and how much you sweat. Usually, if your run is shorter than 60 minutes, you won’t need to consume electrolytes afterward. However, if it is a hot day and you sweat more, consuming electrolytes is a good idea. For those runners doing endurance training, electrolyte supplements are a crucial part of fuelling throughout and after.
The Institute of Medicine recommends that those exercising in hot weather or for long periods of time should consume beverages containing the following;
While electrolyte supplements are great for helping to prevent dehydration and refuel minerals within the body, they are not a daily need. Typically, a balanced diet will contain all the nutrients and minerals you need. Overconsumption of sodium can increase your risk of heart disease and increase blood pressure. Therefore, you should only consume electrolyte supplements on endurance run days or when temperatures are higher and you sweat more during your run.
Not all electrolyte powders are created equal, as a runner, the powder you choose should also contain carbohydrates in the form of sugar. The sugar helps your body hold onto water, preventing dehydration while giving you additional energy. Additionally, the sugar makes the final beverage more palatable. Below are some of the best electrolyte powder options to consider as a runner.
The LMNT Recharge electrolyte powder was formulated to help those on a ketogenic diet refuel after a strenuous workout. However, this electrolyte powder is great for any runner after an endurance training session, due to the high sodium content. LMNT Recharge comes in individual sachets making them easy to take on the go. Simply mix one sachet with 500mls of water until dissolved. Each sachet contains 1000mg of sodium, 60mg of magnesium, and 200mg of potassium. As LMNT is a keto-friendly option, the sugar is replaced with stevia leaf, which acts similarly to sugar, helping you to retain water and provide an energy boost. LMNT comes in 8 flavor options including Citrus Salt, Watermelon Salt, Orange Salt, Raspberry Salt, Mango Chili, Lemon Habanero, Chocolate Salt, and Raw (unflavored). The Chocolate Salt option tastes surprisingly like chocolate milk, however, all flavors are easy to drink.
To make this electrolyte replacement drink, add 1 scoop of powder to 500ml of water and shake or stir. One scoop of Skratch Labs Sports Hydration Drink includes 380mg of sodium, 19g of sugar, 40mg of potassium, 38mg of magnesium, and 43mg of calcium. This is a vegan-friendly option and comes in six flavors; orange, lemon & lime, strawberry lemonade, pineapple, raspberry limeade, and fruit punch.
To use this electrolyte powder, mix 2 scoops with 600-700ml of water and mix well. For a longer run, add 3 scoops to 700ml of water. Each scoop contains 310mg of sodium, 25g of sugar, 27mg of calcium, 90mg of potassium, and 12mg of magnesium. It contains no artificial sweeteners or fillers and is easy to drink. Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel comes in eight different flavors; mandarin, lemon, berry, naked (no flavor), match, raspberry, cola, and tropical.
The best electrolyte powder for runners is determined by personal preference, especially as so much of it will come down to taste. However, the three recommendations above are easy to drink, and contain the right balance of minerals and carbohydrates. Additionally, they come in a variety of flavors, so you’ll likely find one you enjoy.