The simple truth is that we all need electrolytes to function.
...but this is especially true for athletes and individuals who work out and sweat a lot.
When you sweat, your body doesn't just lose water. It also loses essential minerals called electrolytes that are needed for proper functioning.
WHAT ARE ELECTROLYTES?
Electrolytes are minerals that carry electric charges and are important for:
- Regulating and balancing bodily fluids.
- Generating new, healthy tissue.
- Optimal brain, nerve, heart, and muscle functions.
- Maintaining proper pH levels.
- Aiding in blood clotting.
Sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, and calcium are the main electrolytes that play an important role in homeostasis, the body's ability in keeping a stable environment.
CHLORIDE maintains your blood pressure, oxygen delivery, and acid-base balance. Chloride works together with sodium and potassium to maintain your fluid balance.
POTASSIUM regulates your heartbeat, ensures proper muscle function, nerve function, and is needed to metabolize carbohydrates and synthesize protein.
MAGNESIUM plays a key role in over 300 enzyme systems required for nerve and muscle contraction, blood glucose control, energy production, and immune function. Although it’s not directly associated with hydration like sodium, chloride, and potassium, it still plays a vital role in overall health and hydration.
CALCIUM is needed for proper blood clotting, maintaining bone strength, muscle function, and nerve impulses. Nearly 99% of calcium is stored in your bones. The remaining 1% circulates in your blood.
NATURAL ELECTROLYTES TO REPLENISH AND IMPROVE ELECTROLYTE BALANCE
- Milk and Yogurt
- Natural Sports Drinks
- Coconut Water
- Fish and Seafood
- Nuts and Grains
- Leafy Greens
- Citrus Fruits
You need salt. Read that again.
Your body needs salt to function, without it, you can experience cramps, nausea, vomiting, and even dizziness. When seasoning your food, choose minimally processed salts like; sea salt, rock salt, and pink Himalayan salt for the best nutrient profile.
2. DAIRY PRODUCTS
Milk and yogurt are both excellent sources of calcium and great options for a post-workout snack.
MILK - one cup of milk contains about 300 mg of calcium.
YOGURT - one cup of yogurt contains about 450 mg of calcium.
According to the National Institute of Health, your body can absorb more calcium from dairy products (30%) as compared to that from other sources like vegetables (only 5%).
PRO TIP: Opt for milk in your post-workout recovery shake to replenish your calcium levels.
Rich in potassium and magnesium, bananas are a great addition to your diet.
A popular pre-workout snack, the potassium content in bananas can help reduce the occurrence of cramps while working out.
Hydrating and rich in potassium, watermelon is the perfect fruit to replenish with on a hot summer day.
Eating a slice after a workout will help you replenish your potassium levels as well as help to hydrate you, thanks to its high water content.
5. NATURAL SPORTS DRINKS
Sports drinks offer an effective and convenient alternative for hydrating and replenishing when you're on the go.
Often packed with sugar and unnecessary ingredients, look for a product that uses zero sugar and has the necessary electrolytes your body needs to function and recover.
PRO TIP: Electrolytes aren't only for post-workout! If you have a strenuous session coming up, prepare your body by drinking electrolytes before, after, and even intra workout. It all depends on the duration and intensity of your exercise.
Papaya is rich in magnesium, potassium, and folate, which help with muscle repair after working out.
7. COCONUT WATER
Undoubtedly one of nature’s best sources of replenishing electrolytes, coconut water contains key electrolytes such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and phosphorus.
Packed with healthy fats and good for heart health, avocados are potassium and magnesium-rich, which make them a great addition to your diet.
9. FISH AND SEAFOOD
...mackerel, snapper, and cod, are all high in potassium.
10. NUTS AND GRAINS
Nuts and grains are other foods that will effectively replenish your electrolytes after a workout session.
Examples of nuts that you can eat as post-workout snacks include:
Some grains that help replenish your system include:
- Brown rice
In addition to protein and other nutrients that enhance muscle recovery, nuts and grains are rich in minerals like sodium and potassium.
By now, you already know that these are the essential minerals that your body needs to recover after a sweaty workout session.
Berries contain a higher percentage of manganese than most fruits. Your body needs these electrolytes for optimal muscle and nerve functioning.
Strawberries and cherries are both high in potassium.
12. LEAFY GREENS
- Collard Greens
Aside from being packed with vitamins, leafy greens are also the best and most common sources of non-meat electrolytes. They are rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which are critical for proper cell functioning.
13. CITRUS FRUITS
One cup of oranges has about 498 mg of potassium, while one cup of grapefruit juice has 473 mg. They also contain other electrolytes, such as sodium and magnesium, that help keep your body hydrated during exercise.
Lemons and lime both have a high content of sodium, potassium, and magnesium, which are all essential for body fluid balance.
Your body needs electrolytes and you need to actively replenish them through your diet and nutrition, especially after losing a lot of sweat.
Incorporate these electrolyte-rich options into your diet to keep you functioning at your best.
Want to learn more about electrolytes? Check out these expert articles.