Sports drinks like Gatorade are marketed as a source of body-boosting electrolytes, which begs the question: What exactly is an electrolyte, and why are they so important? The short answer is that they’re dissolved salts, which break down into positively and negatively charged ions that conduct electricity and water. These charges control nerve impulses and the flow of water in our cells.
Electrolytes are lost from the body through sweat—but seeing as how we get plenty from food, should we really guzzle sugary athletic beverages after a tough workout? The American Chemical Society weighs in with their latest Reactions video: