595 Elm Place, Suite 208
Highland Park, IL 60035

847-681-8821

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Weight Loss, Exercise and Electrolytes

Do you ever wonder what people mean when they say you have an “electrolyte imbalance?” How about in commercials for sports drinks that claim their drinks “replenish electrolytes?”   Well, here is your answer.  By definition an electrolyte is a substance that ionizes when dissolved in ionizing substances such as water. They have an electric charge which is either positive or negative. All forms of life require a balance of various electrolytes.  In the human body, electrolytes include sodium (Na+), potassium (K+),calcium (Ca2+), bicarbonate (HCO3-, magnesium (Mg2+), chloride (C1-), hydrogen phosphate (HPO42-), and hydrogen carbonate (HCO3-).  In layman’s terms, these are all really just various forms of salt.  However, these “salts” serve very specific purposes in the human body.

Given our obsession with thinness, intense exercise along with rapid or extreme weight loss programs are very popular with Americans. These  programs can cause electrolyte disturbances, and is one of the main reasons we recommend that medical supervision be part of any of these programs. Electrolyte disturbances can affect the amount of water in your body (hydration), muscle function, blood acidity, and can even affect how well the muscles in the heart contract.

Combining exercise with weight loss may compound the imbalance; and I have personally witnessed the effects of low potassium (or hypokalemia) and low sodium (or hyponatremia) during some of the sporting events where I served as a medical director. The most significant symptom of hypokalemia is fatigue and confusion with muscle weakness and cramps. What isn’t well known is that hypokalemia can actually increase blood sugar which can then lead to issues with insulin. Hyponatremia can also lead to confusion, drowsiness, muscle weakness, seizures, and even coma.

In our diet programs and for all athletes (including weekend warriors) we include additional supplements including MeStrength, a sugar-free isotonic powder hydration mix that includes electrolytes and creatine. We recommend that our patients consume this twice per day at least 30 minutes before exercise and immediately after exercise. For any of our patients who are participate in events that exceed an hour we recommend that they consume MeStrength during their event as well.

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595 Elm Place, Suite 208
Highland Park, IL 60035
847-681-8821