Electrolytes 101

Food and nutrition

Published on 31 January 2021
by Isabelle Huot

If you’re into sports, you’re likely familiar with the term electrolytes. You probably know that replenishing electrolytes is recommended during extended periods of physical activity. But do you know what electrolytes are and why they matter? We’re putting the spotlight on these minerals, the key ingredient in sports drinks!


The term electrolyte refers to several minerals that are essential for many human metabolic functions. When you hear about hydration, the main concerns are sodium and potassium, as these are both excreted in sweat and contribute to water balance in your body!


Magnesium and zinc are also eliminated in sweat but in much lower proportions, so they don’t need to be replenished.


There’s no need to replace electrolytes at the beginning of your workout, as your body’s reserves are sufficient. But after 90 minutes of sustained effort, electrolyte loss comes into play! At this point, you should try to consume a drink that contains 500 to 700 mg of sodium and 80 to 200 mg of potassium per litre. Although these recommendations are often associated with sports, people who work outdoors on hot summer days should also consider adding electrolytes to their drinks!


There are no benefits to consuming electrolyte replacement drinks on a daily basis. Although some products promote their electrolyte content as a nutritional benefit, this is not the case outside of a training context. In fact, you should limit your daily consumption of sodium, given the impact excessive sodium intake can have on cardiovascular health.


Isabelle Huot
Doctor in nutrition