What are electrolytes?

Author: FITivate | Published date: August 21, 2023 | Category: Nutrition

What are electrolytes?

Electrolytes are minerals in our body which hold a charge. They consist of positive and negative ions which help to direct electrical pulses throughout the entire network of cells, tissues and fluids within the body.


They are essential to our bodily functions as they maintain fluid balance inside and outside of the cell which is crucial for: Hydration, nerve impulses or proper nerve function, muscle function and prevents muscle cramps, maintain pH levels in our body and help to build new tissues.

Types of electrolytes

There are about 6, namely Sodium (Na+), Magnesium (Mg++), Potassium (K+) Bicarbonate (HCO3-), Phosphate (HPO4-) and Calcium (Ca++).

Electrolyte Imbalance

Electrolyte imbalances occur when electrolyte levels in the body are either too high or low.


Even though mild imbalances do not present symptoms all the time, some common ones that people might feel as the condition worsens include fast or irregular heartbeat, fatigue, seizures, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle cramping, numbness or confusion.

How it happens?

It happens mainly when there is loss of excessive fluid from diarrhoea, vomiting or sweating (like running a marathon).

Isotonic drinks? Yes or No?

It squarely comes down to the intensity and duration of the exercise session. Generally, if your session is less than 1 hour with moderate intensity, hydration through plain water is adequate. Individuals who go through physically demanding and long duration exercises such as marathons can consider sports drinks or electrolyte infused spring water. Just remember to consume in moderation as sports drinks are typically very high in sugar levels. My recommendation will still be to opt for plain water and consume a balanced diet of whole foods that are rich in electrolytes. Examples are Bananas, dates, raisins, coconuts, avocado, spinach, beans, lentils and potatoes.

By : Alvin Ho

B (Eng), MBA, Certified Allied Healthcare/Fitness Professional (EIMS), Master Fitness Trainer / Fitness Nutrition, Resistance & Endurance Training Specialist (NFPT)



You Also Be Interested In