When the going gets hot, increased sweat means you may need to top up your body salts as you go.
This week's Monday Tip is a topically tropical one, electrolyte replacement, particularly in hot conditions where you're leaching minerals along with body-cooling sweat.
Don't believe us? Take a look at the top we were wearing yesterday on a long day in the Peak. That white depositit is crusted-on salt - we know, we licked it... If you're low in sodium and other electrolytes, it upsets the whole basic muscle system. Your body needs sodium, potassium and magnesium to function at a cell level, if the levels of these go out of kilter, the result could be muscle weakness or twitching or general fatigue, or, best known, muscle cramps.
So what do you do to keep your body functioning effectively? First, if you're someone who does sweat a lot in hot conditions with a salty residue you shouldn't just chug lots of plain water down. Doing that can actually dilute the electrolyte levels in your body and make things worse.
Electrolyte Replacment - Commercial Drinks
Instead, you should consider using a drink containing some form of electrolyte replacement. That could be an energy drink, which also contains carbohydrates for fuelling or it could be a simple zero calories solution - like the Nuun tablets pictured - which contain an optimum mix of electrolytes and can simply be dropped into your water bottle or hydration reservoir to keep levels topped up.
Bear in mind too, that if you're preparing for a big day in hot conditions, maybe a race or a challenge event, glugging too much plain water in the days leading up to the event can, again, actually be counter productive by diluting electrolyte levels and flushing salts out of the system. If your urine is very clear, it's mostly pure water that your body can't absorb. Aim for a light straw colour and, again, consider using some sort of electrolyte supplement instead of plain water.
DIY Electrolyte Replacement
The downside to commercial electrolyte supplements is the cost, but you can also make your own DIY electrolite drink. Sodium, in the form of salt, is the mineral you most obviously excrete and actually, using table salt containing potassium idoide, will add potassium too. The other excellent ingredient is citrus fruit or juice.
Google home-made electrolyte drinks will bring up dozens of recipes you can try. The optimum for you depends a little on your salt-loss rate, but we'd suggest keeping things simple with a mix of water, orange juice and some salt possibly with some baking soda added. Sodium is the most important element of this, start with one level teaspoon of salt per liter. That won't taste lovely, but adding orange juice will help make things more palatable as well as adding additional nutrients, but there are lots of additional suggestions out there. Enjoy.