Your body needs water to function, but you can’t run on H2O alone. That’s where electrolytes come in. Electrolytes are a critical part of the hydration equation. Without them, your body can’t maintain the osmotic balance between and inside cells. They’re also critical for maintaining other functions in your brain, nerves, and muscles.
Think of electrolytes like the power conduits of your body. They keep things running. When your body’s electrolyte levels are low — even if you’ve been gulping down water — it will struggle to function optimally. An electrolyte imbalance can show up as fatigue, dizziness, and muscle cramping. Bad news, especially in the middle of a challenging workout.
We’ve established that electrolytes and fluid intake are important, but should you take electrolytes before or after workouts? What’s the best time to replenish your electrolyte levels? Read on for a guide on whether to drink electrolytes before or after workouts.
When Should You Take Electrolytes for a Workout?
Electrolytes work in tandem to regulate various bodily functions and maintain fluid balance, so ideally, you should replenish them regularly through diet and electrolyte drinks. However, workouts can impact the rate at which you shed and need to replace electrolytes. And your training regimen can further influence how rapidly you shift your electrolyte stores out of balance.
Training in very hot conditions, for instance, will naturally cause you to sweat more — even during a short workout. Similarly, longer workouts also lead to higher electrolyte loss compared to shorter exercises. Plus, everyone has a different sweat rate, and some people produce saltier sweat than others, meaning they may need extra electrolytes.
So, when should you take electrolytes in relation to your workouts? Let’s break it down.
Benefits of Drinking Electrolytes Before Your Workout
Proper hydration is crucial even before you lace up your running shoes or roll out your mat for hot yoga. Starting dehydrated (lacking both water and electrolytes) can impact workout quality and performance. It might even make you less likely to partake in physical activity altogether. That’s because being dehydrated can make you feel sluggish and tired.
Hydrating before a workout is particularly important if you tend to exercise in the morning since you just spent hours without restoring your electrolyte stores — and sweating!
Benefits of Drinking Electrolytes During Your Workout
Unless it’s sweltering outside, you can probably get through short, low-intensity workouts on water alone. If you plan on doing intense exercise or getting sweaty for over an hour, it’s a good idea to think about replenishing your electrolytes along the way. Whether you’re at the gym or out for a run, consider bringing an electrolyte drink mix to stay hydrated throughout your workout.
You also lose more electrolytes in high heat conditions. More sweat = more electrolytes lost. While drinking electrolyte-filled fluids before you experience dehydration is ideal, it can take some time to learn how your body responds to different conditions. Pay attention to what your body is telling you.
Dehydration can show up as:
- Brain fog
- Dry skin
- Sugar cravings
- Dark urine
While thirst may be the most obvious indicator that you need to hydrate, many people are actually out of sync with their natural thirst response. During a workout, it can help to take small regular sips of electrolyte drink to maintain hydration. Small sips can also help prevent the nausea and stomach upset that can come from gulping down larger amounts of water.
Benefits of Drinking Electrolytes After Your Workout
Proper rehydration after workouts, especially strenuous efforts, might help you recover better, according to older research. By drinking electrolytes post-workout, you can replenish lost Sodium, Magnesium, Potassium, and Calcium, all of which are vital for maintaining proper muscle function. Supporting optimal muscle function is critical as they recover from the stress of exercise.
Proper electrolyte balance also ensures your body can continue to produce energy at a cellular level – energy that’s crucial for your body’s recovery process, including preventing muscle soreness.
How the body responds to physical activity can differ from person to person, but the bottom line is that everyone sweats. Your workout buddy might sweat more than you, but you can both benefit from regularly topping up your electrolyte stores and focusing on proper hydration during workouts, especially during strenuous physical activity. Hydrating with electrolytes before, during, and after workouts can help you perform and recover better.
Thankfully, optimal hydration doesn’t have to be complicated. Mini Dew™ is easy to use and provides a full-spectrum of electrolytes, ionic trace minerals, and chelated essential minerals. Mix this electrolyte drink powder with water to support optimal hydration and give the body the elements it needs to feel good and energized.*
Outside of your workout routine, you might want to consider adding foods with electrolytes into your daily diet so you can continuously support your body from the inside out.
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- American College of Sports Medicine. (2007). American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Exercise and fluid replacement. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17277604/
- Dehydration. (n.d.). https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/diseases-conditions/dehydration
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- Tough workouts? You could be dehydrated. (2023). https://healthcare.utah.edu/healthfeed/2023/01/tough-workouts-you-could-be-dehydrated