When to Take Electrolytes: A Comprehensive Guide

An image of a Veloforte bottle containing electrolytes

Electrolytes play a crucial role in maintaining the proper functioning of our bodies. They are involved in various bodily processes, including regulating fluid balance, transmitting nerve signals, and supporting muscle contractions. It is important to understand what electrolytes are and how their levels can affect our overall well-being.

Understanding Electrolytes: Their Role and Importance

Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electric charge when dissolved in water. The most common electrolytes in our bodies include sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, and phosphate. These minerals are essential for  maintaining proper hydration  and enabling various bodily functions.

Electrolytes are not only crucial for maintaining hydration but also play a significant role in regulating blood pressure. Sodium, in particular, helps control blood pressure by influencing the volume of blood in the body and the constriction of blood vessels. Potassium, on the other hand, works in opposition to sodium to help lower blood pressure by relaxing the walls of blood vessels and excreting excess sodium through urine.

What are Electrolytes?

Electrolytes are substances that, when dissolved in water, dissociate into positively and negatively charged ions. This ionic balance is crucial for the proper functioning of cells, as it helps maintain fluid balance, enable muscle contractions, and regulate pH levels.

When electrolyte levels are imbalanced, it can lead to various health issues. For example, low levels of potassium can result in muscle weakness and irregular heartbeats, while high levels of calcium can cause kidney stones and negatively impact bone health. It is essential to maintain a proper balance of electrolytes through a healthy diet and adequate hydration.

Imnage of electrolytes being poured into a bottle
Image by Veloforte

The Function of Electrolytes in the Body

Electrolytes serve several vital functions in the body. Sodium and potassium, for example, play a key role in maintaining fluid balance and transmitting nerve signals. Calcium and magnesium are essential for muscle contractions and nerve function. Chloride helps maintain proper fluid balance and supports digestive processes, while phosphate is necessary for energy production and bone health

Ensuring adequate intake of electrolytes is crucial for overall health and well-being. Electrolyte-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds can help replenish these essential minerals and support optimal bodily functions. Additionally, staying hydrated and avoiding excessive consumption of processed foods high in sodium can help maintain a healthy electrolyte balance.

The Connection Between Electrolytes and Hydration

One of the most important roles of electrolytes is to regulate hydration levels in the body. When we sweat or lose fluids through other means, such as urine or diarrhoea, we also lose electrolytes. This can lead to imbalances and potentially hinder our body's ability to function optimally.

How Electrolytes Regulate Hydration

Electrolytes, particularly sodium and potassium, help regulate fluid balance by controlling the movement of water in and out of cells. When electrolyte levels are imbalanced, water may not be properly absorbed or retained by our cells, leading to dehydration or overhydration.

Sodium, the most abundant electrolyte in extracellular fluid, plays a key role in maintaining blood pressure and fluid balance. Potassium, on the other hand, is primarily found in intracellular fluid and is essential for muscle function and nerve transmission. Together, these electrolytes ensure that water is distributed appropriately throughout the body to support various physiological functions.

Dehydration and Electrolyte Imbalance

Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluid than it takes in, leading to an imbalance in electrolyte levels. Symptoms of dehydration include increased thirst, dry mouth, fatigue, dizziness, and dark-coloured urine. It is important to replace lost fluids and electrolytes to prevent dehydration and maintain optimal health.

Electrolyte imbalances can have serious consequences on overall health. In addition to dehydration, an imbalance in electrolyte levels can lead to muscle cramps, irregular heartbeat, confusion, and even seizures. It is crucial to consume an adequate amount of electrolytes through diet or supplementation to support proper hydration and ensure the body's physiological processes run smoothly.

When to Take Electrolytes

There are specific situations when it may be beneficial to take electrolytes to support our body's needs. These include during physical activity, during illness or recovery, or as part of a daily wellness routine. Ensuring an adequate intake of electrolytes is vital for overall health and well-being.

Electrolytes to Support Physical Activity

During intense exercise or prolonged physical activity, our bodies lose electrolytes through sweat. Replenishing these lost electrolytes can help maintain fluid balance, support muscle function, and prevent fatigue. Electrolyte drinks or powders are convenient options to consider before, during and after workouts.

Potassium and sodium are among the key electrolytes that need to be replenished during physical activity. These minerals play a crucial role in muscle contraction, nerve signalling, and fluid balance within the body. Proper electrolyte replacement can enhance performance and reduce the risk of muscle cramps and dehydration. Using an electrolyte with added energy can further support endurance or high intensity exercise.

A man taking an electrolyte
Image by Veloforte
A man shaking a bottle with electrolytes
Image by Veloforte

Top tips

Drink Before You're Thirsty….

Just a 5% drop in hydration can lead to a 30% drop in mental and physical performance

Start with your reserves full & drink little and often right from the start of your workout. 

Aim to take 2-3 good sized gulps from your bottle every 10-15 minutes. Just like eating on the go, you’re not drinking for that moment but for the moment 10-20 miles down the road.

Recommended hydration with electrolytes (before, during & after exercise)

500ml electrolyte drink 1-2 hours before prolonged or intense exercise

150-200ml electrolyte drink immediately before you begin

500-750ml electrolyte drink per hour during extended exercise

500ml electrolyte drink within 20 minutes of finishing exercise 

For exercise lasting over 60 minutes we suggest you choose an electrolyte drink with added carbohydrates.

"Amazing stuff that keeps you in tip top shape throughout your rides. Tastes lovely and very easy on your stomach. Could not recommend more."

- John F (Veloforte's Passo Electrolyte)

Electrolytes During Illness or Recovery

When we are ill or recovering from an illness or medical procedure, our body's electrolyte levels may be imbalanced. This is particularly true if there is vomiting, diarrhoea, or excessive sweating involved. In such cases, electrolyte supplements can help restore the body's electrolyte balance and promote quicker recovery.

Dehydration due to illness can lead to electrolyte imbalances, which may exacerbate symptoms and prolong recovery time. It is essential to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes to support the body's healing process. Electrolyte-rich foods such as bananas, coconut water, and bone broth can also be beneficial in restoring electrolyte balance.

Electrolytes for Daily Wellness

While it is ideal to obtain electrolytes from a well-balanced diet, some individuals may benefit from additional electrolyte supplementation for overall wellness. This can be especially relevant for those who follow restrictive diets, engage in frequent physical activity, or live in hot climates where hydration needs are elevated. Electrolyte powders, tablets or capsules are convenient ways to support daily electrolyte needs.

Electrolyte imbalances can occur not only due to excessive fluid loss but also as a result of certain medical conditions or medications. Monitoring electrolyte levels through blood tests and adjusting supplementation accordingly can help maintain optimal health. Consulting a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian can provide personalised recommendations for electrolyte intake based on individual needs and circumstances.

Types of Electrolyte Supplements

There are different forms of electrolyte supplements available, each with its own advantages and considerations.

Electrolyte Drinks and Powders

Electrolyte drinks and powders are convenient options for replenishing electrolytes during physical activity. They are typically mixed with water and contain a blend of electrolytes, carbohydrates, and sometimes other ingredients like vitamins or minerals. These beverages provide a quick and accessible way to stay hydrated and maintain electrolyte balance during workouts.

Electrolyte Tablets and Capsules

Electrolyte tablets and capsules are another popular choice for electrolyte supplementation. They are portable, easy to consume, and often contain a concentrated blend of electrolytes with added fruity flavourings and sweeteners. Each tablet dissolves in water to make a fizzy electrolyte blend.

Potential Risks and Considerations

While electrolyte supplementation can be beneficial, it is essential to be aware of potential risks and considerations.

Overconsumption of Electrolytes

Consuming excessive amounts of electrolytes can lead to imbalances and potentially harm our health. It is important to follow recommended dosages and guidelines for electrolyte supplementation. If you have certain medical conditions or are on specific medications, it is advised to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any electrolyte supplementation.


Some electrolyte drinks contain added caffeine, a great way to boost focus but not suitable for under 16s or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Interactions with Medications

Some medications may interact with electrolyte supplements, potentially impacting their effectiveness or causing adverse effects. If you are taking any medications, it is crucial to check with your healthcare provider to ensure that electrolyte supplementation is safe and appropriate for you.


Electrolytes play a vital role in maintaining our overall health and well-being.

Understanding their functions, the connection between electrolytes and hydration, and when to consider electrolyte supplementation can help support optimal physical and mental performance.

Incorporate a varied and balanced diet, stay properly hydrated, and consult with a healthcare professional when in doubt.

With the right knowledge and approach, you can make informed choices regarding electrolyte intake and contribute to your overall wellness.

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Head Chef & Co-Founder Lara Giusti. Image by Veloforte.