Why You Need More Electrolytes in Hot Weather

As a personal trainer in London, I’m keen to keep my clients’ energy levels up during the hot weather, so they can continue to train and work towards their fitness goals. Most of the population during this heatwave are experiencing a drop in energy levels. This is mainly due to excessive exposure to the hot sun, dehydration, and a loss of electrolytes. These three are all related.

Drink more fluids

You’ve all heard the advice to drink more fluids during hot weather, but some people choose the wrong fluids. Alcoholic drinks and coffee are not going to hydrate you! They have a diuretic effect, which means that you urinate more to remove the toxins in alcohol and coffee, leaving you more dehydrated than before.

The fluid you should drink more of is – surprise surprise – water. How much more you should drink than usual depends on your activity levels among other things. See my earlier blog about how much water you should drink. A good guideline amount is 2 litres a day, but the right amount for you depends on lots of variables.

Replenish your electrolytes

You’ve probably heard ¬†about electrolyte drinks that professional sports-people consume to perform at their best. What are electrolytes? They are the 4 major mineral salts sodium, chloride, potassium, and magnesium.

The electrolytes regulate fluid levels in your body, and maintain an optimum fluid balance between the cells of your body and your bloodstream. In hot weather, or whenever you sweat more than usual, this electrolyte balance can be compromised. When you sweat, it’s not only water you lose, but electrolytes too.

A disturbed electrolyte balance can have serious acute health consequences. It leads to loss of energy, poor concentration, dizziness, poor physical co-ordination, and in more severe cases vomiting, diarrhoea, and in the most severe cases if the electrolyte loss becomes extreme and is not restored fast, heart failure and death.

When I’m out playing tennis in hot weather, I take plenty of water with me. But I also mix a sachet of electrolyte powder into one of my water bottles. You can buy them at any chemist, just ask the pharmacist for advice.

You can also top-up your electrolyte levels from a range of healthy foods:

Good sources of magnesium: avocados, plain live natural yoghurt, soy milk, spinach

Good sources of potassium: bananas, milk, honeydew melon, baked potato

Good sources of sodium and chloride: table salt (in small quantities, but seek advice from your doctor if you have high blood pressure or any heart condition)

So enjoy the hot weather, but keep well hydrated and top up your electrolyte levels.

(Dominic Londesborough is a personal trainer in central London with over 11 years experience)