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Why Do You Need Electrolytes for Hydration?

With Paul Kriegler, RD, CPT

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Season 8, Episode 12 | June 4, 2024

Our bodies need electrolytes for a variety of reasons, but perhaps most importantly, because they help keep us hydrated and direct water where it needs to go inside the body. Yet many of us are dehydrated (though we may not realize it) due to common factors like sweating, stress, and caffeine consumption. Because it can be hard to consume enough electrolytes through food alone, electrolyte supplementation is often beneficial for many.

Paul Kriegler, RD, CPT, shares what you need to know about electrolytes and their role in hydration, as well as how to maintain sufficient levels. He also provides guidance around supplementation.

Paul Kriegler, RD, CPT, is the director of nutritional product development at Life Time.

In this episode, Kriegler offers some key insights and information about electrolytes, including the following:

  • Electrolytes are minerals that carry a charge in our body. Sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, and magnesium are the five major electrolytes.
  • Electrolyte support hydration by directing water inside the body. Our electrolyte balance (either inside or outside of our cells) and the electrical charges that they carry (either positive or negative) help water flow where it needs to go to help us function. They also play a role in nerve conductivity.
  • The two dominant electrolytes that we likely need to pay the closest attention to are sodium and potassium. Sodium-potassium pumps on the surface of our cells act as control gateways or doors, if you will, to let certain things in and out. When these two minerals are imbalanced, the function of those gateways or doors can be thrown off and metabolic processes can become less efficient.
  • The general recommendation from organizations like the USDA and American Heart Association is to consume about 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. However, with the exception of those with certain medical conditions, Kriegler says that amount is far too low for those who are active and sweat on a regular basis to feel and function at their best. He explains that the optimal target for a healthy, active person is roughly twice that amount.
  • Our bodies are more than 70 percent water by weight. Yet if you just drink plain water and don’t intentionally include minerals — specifically, the five major electrolytes — in your water or as part of your diet, the electric currents in your body can slow down to a point where you feel flat, demotivated, and weak. Electrolytes are what give us the “spark” that we need.
  • While it’s important to include food sources of electrolytes in your diet, our needs can’t always be met by them, so supplementation can be beneficial. In Kriegler’s experience working with Life Time members, as well as looking at their blood analyses, many of whom sweat on a regular basis and eat healthier than the average American, he has seen that many people show they’d benefit from additional electrolyte support. They may have been drinking enough fluid, but that fluid likely wasn’t getting to where it needed to go.
  • Life Time offers an electrolyte supplement, Hydrate. Made with Redmond Real Salt — an unrefined mineral sea salt — it contains several dozen trace minerals in addition to the dominant electrolyte; it’s naturally flavored with fermented sugar cane and contains zero sugar or calories. It was designed to address the mid-range electrolyte-level losses of those doing about hour-long workouts and experiencing the average sweat, sodium, and electrolyte-loss rates.

More From Life Time

A container of Hydrate next to an electrolyte drink.

Meet LTH Hydrate

Pure, no-sugar-added electrolytes designed to hydrate faster than water alone — whether you’re pushing your workout limits, sweating by the pool, or need a natural kick-start first thing in the morning. Available in two crisp, refreshing flavors.

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Transcript: Why Do You Need Electrolytes for Hydration?

Season 8, Episode 12  | June 4, 2024

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The information in this podcast is intended to provide broad understanding and knowledge of healthcare topics. This information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of advice from your physician or healthcare provider. We recommend you consult your physician or healthcare professional before beginning or altering your personal exercise, diet or supplementation program.

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