Knowledge is wealth. The more you know about your body and how it works the better off in life you will be. So I have to ask, how much do you know about electrolytes?
You probably know a great way to get electrolytes is to drink Gatorade. This has been engraved in our minds for years. Electrolytes are a little more complex than simply drinking Gatorade, so here is a post about everything you need to know about electrolytes!
WHAT ARE ELECTROLYTES?
We need electrolytes in order to live! Electrolytes provide your body with a more or less charge, or an electric current, in order for your body to function. Electrolytes are chemicals that conduct electricity when mixed with water. They have many roles in helping the body to function such as hydrating the body, regulating nerve and muscle function, rebuilding damaged tissues, and balancing blood acidity and pressure.
Electrolytes include potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, phosphate, and bicarbonate. The body needs a mixture of the electrolytes previously listed in order to perform various functions. For example, our muscles need calcium, sodium, and potassium in order to contract. When it comes to hydration, electrolytes are responsible for directing nutrients and water to the areas of your body it is needed the most, all while maintaining fluid balance inside our cells.
HOW DO I GET ELECTROLYTES?
If you are following a proper diet, you should have no problem getting all of the electrolytes you need naturally. Fruits and vegetables are LOADED with nutrients. It is best to avoid relying on sports/energy drinks if possible, mostly due to their high sugar content. One of the best ways to get electrolytes is to drink coconut water. Coconut water is loaded with potassium, sodium, and magnesium.
Other great sources of naturally getting electrolytes are almonds, kale, chia seeds, broccoli, and oranges. these foods are specifically great sources of the electrolyte calcium.
TIP 1: EAT MORE BANANAS AND DRINK MORE COCONUT WATER! It is common to be deficient in potassium and magnesium.
TIP 2: Throw a teaspoon of chia seeds in with coconut water and your muscles will be good to go and ready to contract and relax. It is a great remedy in order to avoid muscle cramps and stay hydrated!
TIP 3: Most Americans get PLENTY of sodium from their diets, so this is not a common electrolyte deficiency in the US.
TIP 4: Counter to Pro Tip 3, if you sweat A LOT it is very important to make sure you are getting adequate sodium. It doesn’t hurt to sprinkle a little extra salt on your food after a tough, sweaty workout!
TIP 5: Water, water, water. We all tend to overestimate the amount of water we take in on a given day. Drink more water!
WHAT IF I AM NOT GETTING ENOUGH?
It is so important to listen to your body. Your body gives you signs and will let you know when something is off, you just have to pay attention! Symptoms depend on which electrolyte is out of balance and whether the level of the electrolyte is too high or too low.
Common symptoms of imbalances include:
Blood pressure changes
Extreme muscle weakness
Now, PLEASE do not go and self-diagnose yourself for all of the above. I am simply encouraging you to pay attention to your body, especially after a strenuous workout.
One last very good source of electrolytes worth mentioning are a good Branched Chain Amino Acid (BCAA) supplement. These will help your body remain in an anabolic state, helping with muscle recovery! They come in many flavors, taste great and help keep you from getting bored with water, all while including electrolytes and NO sugar or unnecessary calories.
Replenish your body well!
THE MORE YOU KNOW. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.
Thank you for reading!