When you think about electrolytes, you think about sports drinks. Did you know that electrolytes can be found in many things? The best way to get electrolytes is through a nutrient rich and well balanced diet. Most of time, the foods sources for electrolytes do not come with a high calorie count or unnecessary sugars. This makes getting your electrolytes through food a better option than the sugary sports drinks that are usually provided. Remember the waters that claim to be electrolyte rich, do not have the amount of electrolytes that sports drinks, or the foods below, have.
Electrolytes are electrically charged ions like, sodium, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. These ions assist in muscle and nerve function and fluid balance. They help with various functions in your body, so it is not a bad idea to seek them out. When you work out, you tend to lose the most amount of electrolytes. If you work out for an hour or more, you lose more electrolytes than you realize. Once you have the imbalance of not having enough electrolytes in your body, you could have unintended consequences.
When you are working out, you are producing heat and sweating. This is where you lose the most electrolytes, that’s why they are often advertised in sports drinks. Electrolytes help your muscles contract, and if you are low in electrolytes, it is more likely for your muscles to cramp. Electrolyte imbalance, if it is severe, can also lead to fatigue, vomiting, nausea, headaches, blood pressure changes, and seizures. These are all things that can happen if your electrolyte imbalance is severe.
If you are over sports drinks to get your electrolyte fix, try some of the following foods. Use them in pre or post workout meals.
Sodium is the primary electrolyte in your body that is lost through sweat. The loss of sodium is especially high for those who exercise regularly. Sodium helps retain fluid and prevent cramping, so when you are running low, you are at a greater risk for injury while exercising. Broth based soups help provide hydration plus sodium into your diet.
Milk helps deliver electrolytes, like calcium, after a workout. Calcium helps build healthy bones and can help with nerve transmission. Calcium can also help with heart function and, in turn, help your cardiovascular health. Chocolate milk also contain sodium and potassium. Potassium is crucial for muscle contraction and is a good substitute into your diet. The added sugar in chocolate milk should be something that worry about, especially if you are drinking it post workout.
Bananas are a good source of potassium, and as we see above, a vital electrolyte for your body. Other fruits that are good sources of potassium are oranges and melons. You should be eating these after a run. These fruits also provide carbohydrates so that you can replenish your blood sugar levels after a workout. You can also eat them before a workout so that you can top off your blood sugar levels and recover from your workout more quickly.
If you are looking to make a big salad to gain electrolytes, try adding in sweet potatoes, leafy greens, beets, and black beans. These are all high in potassium, a vital electrolyte. Other components in a salad can be, olives, tomatoes, and lettuce. These all contain chloride. Chloride is an electrolyte that works with sodium so that your fluid levels are maintained. You can also add rice or nuts to your salad. These are high in magnesium. Your body needs magnesium to make protein and energy.
Yes, seeds do not sound like they will give you significant energy, but they can be beneficial. Pumpkin seeds, specifically, are a good source of magnesium. They contain about 74 milligrams of magnesium in two tablespoons. This is about 25 percent of your daily recommended magnesium allowance. You can eat them as a snack or add them to a meal like a salad. They are easy to pick up in any store. You can either eat them raw, flavored, or cooked. Whatever way that you wish to snack on these seeds, you will still reap the benefits that they provide.
Greek yogurt contains the electrolyte phosphate. Your body needs phosphate to produce energy. Phosphate is part of the structural component of ATP. ATP is an energy carrying molecule. Many people get their phosphorus intake by eating protein rich foods. Greek yogurt is high in phosphorus and calcium, making it a better choice. Greek yogurt contains about 25 percent of your daily recommended phosphorus value. You should be eating Greek yogurt about two hours before a workout. You will still be full, but you will not feel like throwing up after a hard workout. If you want to eat it post workout, then great. It can help rebuild muscle. Greek yogurt helps rebuild muscle with the 12 to 16 grams of protein it has in every 14 ounces.
You probably are not getting enough electrolytes in your diet, especially if you are an avid gym goer. Make sure to seek out the foods listed above to add more electrolytes to your diet. There are also many options out there to get the electrolytes you need. Make sure to speak with your primary healthcare physician before you begin adding anything new to your diet. You do not want to have unnecessary consequences by adding new items to your diet. When it comes to electrolytes, you can also talk to a professional trainer, as they may have some good suggestions on what to do to add more electrolytes to your diet. It is suggested you talk to both your healthcare professional and a professional trainer before you begin a diet high in electrolytes.