Summer is here, and during this heat wave this Canada Day weekend, we can feel it. It feels like 38 degrees right now and and it only will get hotter as the day goes on. With the onset of the summer heat and humidity, we are often asked about staying properly hydrated. How much water should we drink, are there supplements I can take, why do I get a headache or feel nauseous after my workouts?
You want to make sure you are properly hydrated throughout the entire day, not just around when you are here at the gym working out. With the higher temperatures and the increased humidity, the amount of water you will lose due to sweat will increase. To combat the water loss with sweat, make sure you come into the gym properly hydrated, and after you leave be sure to continue to drink your water. Dehydration can lead to multiple problems and cause higher levels of fatigue. More than just water loss, when you sweat, you can lose over 800mg of Sodium in each liter of sweat (have you ever noticed your sweat is quite salty?). And if we don’t counter act the loss of the sodium, you can experience muscle cramping. Don’t let it get to that point!
So how do we counteract the effects of the loss of sodium while sweating? The answer to that question is electrolytes.
What are electrolytes? They are chemical substances that, when dissolved in water, transform into ions that are molecules which will help conduct electrical impulses throughout the body. Without these molecules, the body will not function the way it should. The electrolytes that are found in our bodies are: sodium (in charge of fluid balance), potassium (works to prevent muscle cramping), calcium (responsible for muscle contractions and maintaining the rhythm of the heart), magnesium (relaxes muscles), bicarbonate (delays fatigue and enhances endurance), chloride (maintains the proper acid/base balance) and phosphate (the key player in your energy production).
Where can we find these electrolytes for supplementation? One of the best sources is coconut water. It is a naturally occurring source of balanced electrolytes that are already in an ingestible solution for you, and it tastes pretty good too! It is fairly low in carbs and high in the magnesium and potassium that will help with muscle fatigue and cramping.
Another source that is often used is electrolyte tablets that you can add to your water. A high quality salt, such as pink Himalayan salt, is good to add to your drinking water. Choose a high quality salt over standard table salt to take advantage of the other minerals that might be present in the salt. The most commonly known source of electrolytes would be your Gatorade or Powerade. Please steer clear of those, because they are usually high in sugars and have a slew of additive and artificial colors added to them. They certainly won’t give you the most bang for your buck, as far as the electrolytes are concerned.
The timing of when you get your electrolytes in can be beneficial too. Like I said earlier, it’s good to be properly hydrated before you even step foot into the gym and start your wod, so adding a little high quality salt to you drinking water will help your thermoregulation and reduce your risk of low blood sodium, which can cause nausea, headaches, fatigue and dizziness, all conditions we hear our athletes complaining about in the summer months. During and after your workouts, you can use a high quality electrolyte supplement or just go for the coconut water. I like to choose the coconut water so I can know I am choosing something that is not processed or full of additives.
*As a hydration bonus, you might notice that a lot of people sing the praises of taking a BCAA supplement. BCAAs will help to maintain your lean body mass, even while eating in a caloric deficit, while reducing the incidence of soreness after your workouts, too. Many BCAA supplements have an electrolyte supplement built into it, so you are getting two benefits from one supplement! In our gym we carry JaktRx Cocowodder Hydrate as well as Cocowodder Pre-Workout. Both of which contain Himalayan Sea Salt to help with keeping up with your hydration.