woman drinking beverage

Electrolytes for Recovery: What You Should Know

Beverages with electrolytes are a top choice for supporting workouts. Here’s a look at what electrolytes do for the body, why consumers are choosing them, and some emerging science on using electrolytes to promote muscle recovery.

What are Electrolytes?

Electrolytes are minerals that can dissolve in water to form ions. Some of these positive and negative ions play essential roles in the body. The most important electrolytes in the body include:

  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Chloride

While different electrolytes have different roles in the body, some of the essential functions of electrolytes are:

  • Maintaining fluid balance
  • Stabilizing blood pH
  • Regulating muscle contractions
  • Conducting nerve impulses

Proper electrolyte levels are critical for these processes to run smoothly. Electrolytes are lost from the body whenever fluid is lost, such as during sweating, urination, diarrhea, and vomiting. Symptoms of low electrolyte levels can range from fatigue and headache to muscle cramps and irregular heartbeat.

Why Consumers are Choosing Electrolytes

When active consumers reach for a beverage to support their workouts, electrolytes are high on the list. Due to high awareness among consumers of electrolyte losses through sweating, electrolytes are must-have beverage ingredients in sports hydration beverages. This becomes particularly important for consumers who are sweating heavily from exercising intensely, for long durations, or in hot environments.

Sports drinks and fortified waters are the most popular options for restoring electrolyte balance during and after exercise. Some consumers may also use products like coconut water, juices, or smoothies. However, these types of products may lack the levels and consistency found in beverages specifically formulated to support hydration.

man and woman running on treadmill

Emerging Science on Electrolytes for Muscle Recovery

Researchers continue to explore the potential benefits of electrolytes in supporting exercise and recovery. One recently published study investigated the effects of consuming an electrolyte glucose beverage on muscle cramping after strenuous endurance exercise.1 Knowing that electrolyte deficits are a factor in exercise-associated muscle cramp (EAMC), researchers hypothesized they could reduce post-exercise cramping through electrolyte supplementation.

In the study, ten young men performed downhill running for 40 to 60 minutes in 95°F heat until they lost 1.5-2% of their body mass from water. Afterward, electrical stimulation was applied to the calf muscle to induce cramping. Researchers found that a stronger frequency was needed to induce cramping in the runners who drank the electrolyte glucose beverage compared to those who drank water, indicating the beverage reduces EAMC susceptibility.

Choosing the Right Beverage Ingredients

Research exploring the potential benefits of electrolytes for exercise support is an exciting area. Expect electrolytes to continue to be in-demand ingredients in sports nutrition beverages, both for active lifestyle and sports performance consumers. Formulating with the right ingredients is essential to meeting the needs of today’s consumers.

To create products that succeed in the market, choosing the right premix supplier is also key. As a custom premix solutions provider with expertise in functional beverage development, Glanbia Nutritionals can develop an electrolyte formula perfect for your product line. Our value-add premixes provide a range of customization, from pre-formulated All NTM Off-the-Shelf Premixes to nutrient premixes. Collaborate with us to learn more about our custom premix solutions.


1. Lau, W.Y., Kato, H. & Nosaka, K. Effect of oral rehydration solution versus spring water intake during exercise in the heat on muscle cramp susceptibility of young men. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 18, 22 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-021-00414-8

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