February 11, 2022 4 min read

by Dr. David Minkoff June 03, 2020 4 min read

A sugar-free, keto-friendly hydration solution for athletes

What if achieving your next level of high performance didn’t have anything to do with building more muscle?

According to research, your highest level of optimal health and athletic performance may be more about using the resources you already have to their highest capacity…

And it all comes down to a new way of managing your hydration. 

 

Can Hydration Be The Key?

Athletes sweat. A lot. And with that sweat, they lose huge quantities of electrolytes. 

You’ve almost certainly heard about the importance of electrolytes at some point. And you probably already “know” about the benefits of staying hydrated. 

But did you know that dehydration of even 1-2% significantly compromises performance?

Dehydration of 3% can lead to cramps, heat exhaustion, and even stroke!

And in hot conditions, even 1 hour of intense exercise can cause dehydration of up to 3%. 

Now, most of this is nothing new. 

Professional sports teams and athletic competitions are plastered with sponsorships from “sports drink” companies claiming all kinds of benefits of their neon-colored electrolyte liquids. 

But behind all the marketing hype and multimillion dollar commercials and celebrity endorsements… what really works? And what do you really need? 

In this article we’re going to show you exactly what matters most when it comes to your hydration. 

 

Electrolytes: The REAL Deal

Let’s start with a definition. Electrolytes are minerals that give water –– and your blood –– an electrical charge. 

They create the critical internal environment your cells and organs need for optimal function. 

Beyond that, they are involved in hundreds and hundreds of chemical reactions necessary for your health and athletic performance. 

The most important ones include: sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, chloride, and magnesium.

 

So what do they do?

Beyond the biochemical, they have a powerful effect on your health and performance. 

The right balance of electrolytes can...

  • Improve blood flow and circulation
  • Enhance oxygen delivery
  • Reduce cramping and injuries by facilitating the removal of waste from muscles
  • Lubricate joints and tissues, reducing injury
  • Help regulate temperature and prevent overheating 

[1,2]

 

The Dehydration Disaster

On the other side of the coin, dehydration and loss of electrolytes can create massive problems. 

Here’s just a few of the consequences of dehydration and electrolyte loss:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increase in cortisol 
  • Reduction of testosterone
  • Fatigue and muscle weakness
  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps
  • Lower cognitive performance and impaired memory
  • Overheating
  • Decline in performance, strength, energy, decision-making, and coordination

[1-6]

 

3 Reasons Why Electrolytes Have such a Dramatic Effect on Athletic Performance

From that list, it’s easy to see that electrolytes profoundly affect athletic performance. 


There are several factors that come together to make this happen. 

  1. Muscles require electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and magnesium to contract. If your body does not have high enough levels of these electrolytes, your muscles cannot perform at their highest potential and so lose strength. [2]

  2. When you become dehydrated, your blood thickens. This makes the blood move more slowly through the capillaries, impairing oxygen delivery to your muscles. [8,9]

  3. Intense exercise increases glycogen breakdown in muscles. Glycogen is the energy reserve for your muscles. But when glycogen is broken down, it can create toxic byproducts like lactic acid. Lactic acid has a charge, and needs the electrolytes in the blood in order to flush it out of the muscles. Without enough electrolytes, lactic acid builds up and causes cramps. [3]

       

      Your Kidneys and Muscle Breakdown

      The negative effects don't stop with the muscles. Compounding the problems of dehydration is the protein breakdown. This often happens during intense exercise. 

      When muscle cells break down protein for energy, they create nitrogen waste in the form of urea. 

      If you’ve ever made it through an intense workout, you may have noticed your urine becomes a bright yellow. That’s from the extra urea caused by muscle breakdown. 

      The problem is that this urea –– combined with thickened blood from dehydration –– places a lot of stress on the kidneys and can catalyze further kidney damage [7].

      Clearly, dehydration and loss of electrolytes has some profound consequences on our health and performance. 

      But before you reach for the nearest sports drink, there’s something you need to know…

       

      The Performance-Killing Dangers of Sports Drink 

      The sports drink industry developed in the late 80s and early 90s. This was the same period of time that saw the rise of “Fat Free” as a “healthy” choice (it’s not). 

      Sports drink companies followed typical food-product marketing protocols and added sugar to their drinks to make them taste better –– nevermind the performance-crashing effects this can have on your insulin levels. 

      Since then, they experimented with new chemicals and synthetic carbohydrates –– ALL of which spike your insulin and impair performance.

      And with so much data about ketosis, paleo-style diets, and the countless benefits of reducing sugar intake, many athletes and weekend warriors are left without an option to stay hydrated and in peak performance. 



       

      References:

      1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK541123/
      2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/153188#imbalance
      3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11821531 ( lactic acid/fatigue)
      4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26125543 (testosterone/cortisol)
      5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31629352 (testosterone/cortisol)
      6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31146326 (cognitive performance/memory)
      7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27161565
      8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26561649 (oxygen/ROS)
      9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32059577 [decreased performance/V02]


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