Athletes can sweat out several pounds of fluid over the course of a single workout. Re hydrating the body is a very high priority for recovering from the stress of a workout. Athletes not only lose water when they sweat, but minerals such as sodium and potassium also are released through the pores, and need to be restored. These minerals/electrolytes can be replenished by consuming foods like yogurt, raisons and fruit juices.
Additionally, the muscles in your body require electrical signals produced in your brain to operate. Electrolytes dissolve in water to make a conductive fluid to transport these signals to the muscles (pure water is not a conductor). Working out causes you to lose water and electrolytes, as jbenjami28 mentioned, thus slowing the signal, and reducing muscle function. Replenishing both water and electrolytes allows muscle operations, like recovery, to work efficiently.
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