Electrolyte and Water

By Daryl Jones, Bachelor of Science, Nutrition - SYA Coach

Electrolytes and Water

Just the other day I was out for a run. Part way through my run my legs tightened up and by the time I got home my quads were very tight. I was a bit confused by this because it was cold outside, I didn’t run at a fast pace, and I only ran 3.5 miles. 

My confusion didn’t last long after I reached out to some friends and thought about it. Water is an important part of everyone’s diet and something we don’t think about all the time. In my case I often warn my players of not having enough water especially when it is cold because we don’t associate dehydration with being cold. Sometimes people will ask how much water they should drinking in a day. It really depends on a variety of things such as activity, weather, humidity, and size. The easy answer in the DRI (Dietary Reference Intake recommendation for water and electrolytes for children and adolescents ranges from 1.3-3.3 L/d. 

An important thing to realize in this is that this does not have to all be water. There is water in fruits, vegetables, coffee, tea, sports drinks, soft drinks, soups, etc. Approximately 80% of daily water needs are from fluids ingested during the day and 20% from foods. A great example of a food that delivers water is a banana which is 75% water by weight. It all adds up in the end. 

Electrolytes which are minerals such as chloride, sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium are lost in urine and sweat. The loss of electrolytes can lead to a common problem that many athletes suffer from, muscle cramps. A good way to keep this from happening is to stay hydrated. Here are some ideas to avoid dehydration according to the American College of Sports Medicine:

  1. Drink 5-7 mL/kg body weight at least 4 hours before exercise. If needed drink 3-5 mL/kg BW 2 hours before.

  2. Follow a customized fluid replacement program to prevent dehydration during exercise.

  3. After exercise fully replace fluid and electrolyte deficits. For rapid rehydration drink 1.5 L of fluid (with electrolytes)/ kg of BW loss.

  4. Consume snacks and beverages with sodium to help stimulate thirst and retain fluids.

Before Exercise

For your best performance it is best to be properly hydrated when entering your activity. Most athletes are not properly hydrated when they start their sessions or competitive events. In a study 174 college athletes it was found that 60% entered competition in a state of hypohydration (uncompensated loss of body water. In athletes it was found that being dehydrated by 2% BW decreased running speeds by 6-7%. In a study of soccer players in Puerto Rico when athletes were allowed to drink fluids during the day as they wished, their body weight was 1.1 L less than when they were mandated to drink 4.6 L of fluids a day. That is one of the reasons that we should not just drink water when we are thirsty but should consider a fluid replacement program for ourselves. Often by the time we are thirsty, we are already in need of fluids.

During Exercise

Athletes are advised to create a fluid replacement program when they are exercising so that they are replenishing the fluids that are being lost while competing. This will be different for different athletes and beneficial for all athletes. Having intake of fluids at 10-30 minute intervals depending on exertion is a place to start. Beneficial body responses to fluid intake during exercise include: 

  1. Lower heart rate

  2. Higher stroke volume (heart)

  3. Higher cardiac output

  4. Higher skin blood flow

  5. Lower core temperature

  6. Lower perceived exertion

  7. Better performance

After Exercise

Plain water is a good thirst quencher but not a great rehydrator. Water turns off the your thirst and activates urine production. If water is ingested with foods that contain sodium, chloride, and other minerals rehydration will occur at a better rate. 

Some food that have good sodium:

  1. Tomato juice

  2. Baked potato chips

  3. Pretzels

  4. Pickles

  5. Crackers

These are just some quick snacks that can help rehydration.

In an attempt to not bore you with more water chatter I will now share a Lemon-Lime Electrolyte Drink with you:

Lemon-Lime Electrolyte drink 

4 cups water

2 Tbl maple syrup

1 Tbl Apple Cider Vinegar

1 Tbl Fresh Lime and/or Lemon juice

¼ tsp Sea Salt 

Shake it up, chill it, drink it

I hope you all have a great day!

Questions, comments, concerns? You can reach me at jonesdarylh@gmail.com


Go Cardinals!!!


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