Do Electrolytes Give You Energy?

April 11, 2024

Are you struggling with fatigue and have tried everything—from rest to eating more to getting a massage—but nothing works? It might be time to look at hydration—specifically, your electrolyte levels.

Electrolytes do not give energy in the form of calories. Still, they do indirectly contribute to an increase or decrease in energy through their role in nerve signaling, muscle contractions, and maintaining fluid balance.

It is important to understand what electrolytes are and what we mean when we say “energy” to know whether or not they will give you energy.

What Are Electrolytes?

Electrolytes are minerals that are essential for many functions in your body, including maintaining cellular balance and facilitating nerve and muscle activity. These minerals include sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, calcium, phosphate, and bicarbonates [1].

We get electrolytes through eating and drinking certain foods, and we lose them through processes like sweating and urination [2]. But why are these minerals called “electrolytes”?

Electrolytes get their name from “electricity”  because they carry electrical charges. Cations like sodium and potassium carry positive charges, and anions like chloride and bicarbonate carry negative charges. This electrical charge allows them to move across cell membranes [3].

When electrolytes get imbalanced or out of whack—for example, after finishing a long and hard workout without properly hydrating—they can negatively impact health and performance.

For instance, abnormalities in sodium levels can affect nerve function and fluid balance, while disturbances in potassium levels can impact heart rhythm and muscle contractions [4].

Do Electrolytes Give You Energy?

Electrolytes play a crucial role in maintaining fluid balance and helping to make ATP. However, despite popular belief, they do not provide energy in the form of calories.

However, when we define energy as “feeling good,” well-being, or vitality, we can say that electrolytes can indirectly boost your energy, especially if you have a deficiency.

Proper electrolyte balance is important for overall health, preventing fatigue and supporting brain function [6]. When you are deficient in electrolytes, especially when you are intensely exercising, eating a low-carb diet, or fasting, you can feel very tired [7].

While electrolytes may not be a magical solution for everyone’s energy needs, maintaining proper electrolyte balance can support overall energy levels and improve the quality of life for many individuals.

What Is Energy?

When we talk about energy, we can refer to how the body produces energy (ATP) or how it gets energy (in the form of calories) [5]. This is important to consider when we look at the role of electrolytes in energy because it is often confused.

Calories are the unit of measurement for energy in foods; only four main components of foods can provide calories: carbohydrates (like bread, pasta, rice, and bananas), protein (meats, eggs, beans, and lentils), fats (nuts, seeds, olive oil, butter, etc.), and alcohol [6].

ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, is the “energy currency” of your body’s cells. When ATP is broken down, it releases energy that the body uses for different bodily functions, including muscle contraction, nerve impulse transmission, and chemical production [5].

Can Low Electrolyte Levels Cause Low Energy?

Yes! Electrolytes, like sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, are essential for many bodily functions, including nerve signaling, muscle contractions, and maintaining fluid balance.

When these electrolytes are depleted, it is like having problems with your car engine. It falters and stalls, ultimately causing fatigue and low energy levels.

Here are a few examples of the indirect ways that a lack of electrolytes can cause low energy [1]:

  1. Potassium and sodium are crucial for nerve impulse transmission and muscle function. When electrolyte levels are low, this can lead to poor nerve signaling and muscle contractions—this is what causes fatigue. Similarly, calcium is necessary for muscle contractions, and its deficiency can cause muscle weakness and lethargy.
  2. An imbalance of electrolytes can wreak havoc on the fluid balance in your body, affecting blood pressure and hydration. This can cause fatigue, dizziness, and poor brain function.
  3. Lastly, at a cellular level, electrolytes produce energy by participating in ATP synthesis, so low electrolyte levels can impair ATP production.


Electrolytes do not give you energy directly or in the form of calories, but they are important because they help produce energy.

A lack of electrolytes can lead to fatigue, and electrolytes can be a great tool in your nutrition toolkit if you are feeling tired. However, they will not be a quick fix to solve fatigue caused by poor sleep, stress, or undereating.


  1. Shrimanker, I., & Bhattarai, S. (2023). Electrolytes. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing.
  2. Shirreffs, S. M., & Sawka, M. N. (2011). Fluid and electrolyte needs for training, competition, and recovery. Journal of sports sciences29 Suppl 1, S39–S46.
  3. Terry J. (1994). The major electrolytes: sodium, potassium, and chloride. Journal of intravenous nursing : the official publication of the Intravenous Nurses Society17(5), 240–247.
  4. Weiss-Guillet, E. M., Takala, J., & Jakob, S. M. (2003). Diagnosis and management of electrolyte emergencies. Best practice & research. Clinical endocrinology & metabolism17(4), 623–651.
  5. Dunn, J., & Grider, M. H. (2023). Physiology, Adenosine Triphosphate. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing.
  6. Yu-Yahiro J. A. (1994). Electrolytes and their relationship to normal and abnormal muscle function. Orthopedic nursing13(5), 38–40.
  7. Rabast, U., Vornberger, K. H., & Ehl, M. (1981). Loss of weight, sodium and water in obese persons consuming a high- or low-carbohydrate diet. Annals of nutrition & metabolism, 25(6), 341–349.
About the Author

Hanli is a Registered Dietitian with a special interest in sports nutrition. She has a Master's degree and is currently a PhD candidate focusing on adolescent athlete nutrition. She has published research in the Obesity Reviews journal and is a research coordinator at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa.

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