Hey Angels and Alphas,
As soon as summer rolls around, many of us naturally gravitate toward sports drinks filled with electrolytes so we can prep for our outdoor workouts and summer hikes with the right nutrition.
But what exactly are electrolytes… and why are they so important to our health?
In this post, we’re going to break down the science behind these little powerhouses, and we’ll learn to find out if we’re short on them, which ones we should focus on, and which ones we should skip.
What are electrolytes exactly?
Electrolytes are minuscule minerals that go around your body and carry an electric charge. They’re vital to keeping your muscles flexing, your nerves firing, and your heart beating.
Everyone thinks that fluid is the numero uno in preventing dehydration, but these electrolytes are the secret sauce that maintains the fluid balance in and out of our cells… as well as efficiently deliver fluid to our muscles during exercise.
Essential electrolytes include:
- Calcium and magnesium, which support your metabolism and muscles
- Sodium, potassium, and chloride, which regulate your body’s fluid balance
When you start breathing faster and sweating a lot, all your electrolytes are lost. That’s why you have to replenish your stores by using the right meals and drinks to avoid these imbalances.
Naturally, this means you need more electrolytes in the summer.
Summer brings along hot temperatures, easily dehydrating you in a short time if you’re not consuming enough fluids and taking in the right nutrients.
When it’s hot outside, sweat simply can’t cool you off as quickly as you would like it to. Your body will get hotter, you will lose more electrolytes, and you will lower your fluid balance. As soon as you start getting dizzy, start cramping, or get a racing heart all of a sudden, you know you need to hydrate ASAP.
So how do we get enough electrolytes in and support our body’s natural fluid levels?
On your typical summer day, eating a balanced diet and drinking enough fluid is all you’re going to need.
But if you’re someone who likes to exercise in the hot weather or you plan to spend your day at the beach, you have to make sure you’re taking in more fluids and back them up with electrolyte-rich snacks.
Here are 3 sources of electrolytes that make it easy to maintain your fluid balance during hot summer workouts:
- SPORTS DRINKS
Studies have shown that milk will hydrate you better than water. But you don’t see a lot of people carrying milk at the gym. Sports drinks, on the other hand, are easy to carry around and packed with vitamins and minerals that aid your recovery and muscle growth. Just make sure you’re not choosing one that’s packed with unnecessary sugar.
- TRAIL MIX
Trail mix that’s salty and sweet is a classic snack for hikers. This is because it’s the perfect combination of electrolyte-rich foods. You have lightly salted nuts such as almonds, dried fruits like apricots and raisins, and sometimes even fruits inside your typical trail mix bag.
- PICKLED FOODS
Olives, pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi are some of the more lesser-known sources of electrolytes… but they’re awesome post-workout snacks. Since tomatoes are also a good source of potassium, experts recommend you regularly combine them with olives. Pickled foods are some of the best post-workout fuels when it comes to training in the hot summer weather.
On the other hand, there are a few overrated sources of electrolytes you definitely should be avoiding. If you’re an athlete training for optimal performance, avoid these:
- SPORTS DRINKS WITH TOO MUCH SUGAR
Some popular sports drinks contain more sugar than sodas. This can be okay for athletes but extremely harmful to the average gym-goer. Abundant in added sugars and artificial ingredients, sports drinks high in sugars are not necessary in most cases. Especially if your goal is to lose weight.
- ELECTROLYTE WATERS
Just like sports drinks, electrolyte waters (or gels) are generally not a good option for the average gym-goer. Unless you’re working out for hours or you’re training for a marathon, they have no use for you.
- COCONUT WATER
Coconut water is tasty, popular, and very high in potassium. But it’s low in some of the most essential minerals you need, such as chloride and sodium. It doesn’t really provide the optimal balance of nutrients that your body needs. And plus, the amount of electrolytes in the bottle could vary vastly based on how long the coconut has stayed inside the bottle.