Reach beyond your typical sports drink.
When you lead an active lifestyle, you sweat a lot more (and a lot more often) than the average person. And when you sweat, you lose a lot of water, a little bit of ammonia and urea (which are left behind after your body breaks down protein), sugar and some salts. Those salts can also be referred to as electrolytes. The most abundant — and important — electrolytes include sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium.
Why Electrolytes Matter So Much
Your cells fail to function when you lack electrolytes. They’re responsible for regulating the flow of water both in and out of cells, as well as sparking nerve impulses.
Without electrolytes, your cells can shrivel up from dehydration and die or retain too much water and burst. And without those nerve impulses occurring as they should, your heart can’t beat regularly, your lungs can’t keep breathing and your brain can’t keep learning. Yeah, electrolytes are a pretty big deal.
Sugar With A Side Of Electrolytes?
While a lot of traditional sports drinks focus on their electrolyte contents in their marketing campaigns, they’re also loaded with a ton of added sugar, which is something we’re coming to learn is best avoided in large doses. Luckily, that’s easier to do than you might think. There are plenty of options that can give you a quality boost of the nutrients and hydration your body needs while avoiding the things it really doesn’t.
What To Drink Instead
To switch your electrolyte game up a bit, give the following options a try.
1. Toss a little sea salt into your water. Yep, a high-quality sea salt can provide a great way to boost your sodium levels just the right amount. And if you don’t love the taste of slightly salty water, just add a lemon wedge to the mix.
2. Add a splash of fruit juice to your water. This is another great DIY home remedy that gives you a little bit a flavor, as well as a boost of electrolytes and antioxidants if you opt for something like a natural blueberry or cranberry juice. Plus, you get to avoid a major sugar high.
3. Try coconut water. Coconut water naturally contains sugar from the tropical fruit, but the quantities are nowhere near as high as in your typical sports drink. Plus, it tastes seriously refreshing after a tough workout.
4. Check out nuun. These effervescent tablets are a travel-friendly way to give your water a healthy boost. Each tablet contains 360 milligrams of sodium, 100 milligrams of potassium, 25 milligrams of magnesium and 13 milligrams of calcium. They also keep the sugar content down to 1 gram. There are plenty of flavor options available to suit your needs.
5. Get more sodium and potassium through food. Believe it or not, it’s really easy to get plenty of electrolytes just by adding more plants into your daily diet. They are loaded with healthy vitamins and minerals, so as long you pay attention to what’s on that plate at mealtime, your body will fare just fine with water during your exercise recovery — no sports drink necessary.