Sports and energy drinks are all the rage right now….give me a few minutes and let me explain what electrolytes are and help you decide if you need to add some electrolyte replenishment to your workout routine.
What are electrolytes?
They are essential minerals that make electrically charged particles called ions. These ions carry electrical impulses throughout your body, and are needed for several body functions, including muscle function. Now the key word there is essential. This means that your body cannot make these minerals, they are aquired by your food choices.
What causes imbalances and what are symptoms?
In this article, I’m going to focus on exercise related causes of electrolyte imbalances, and they are: altitude at which you are exercising, how hot or cold the air is, how much you sweat, and the duration and intensity of the exercise. The more extreme any of these factors are, the more likely you are to become imbalanced in electrolytes. The symptoms are: muscle cramping, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and trembling.
What can you do to re-balance your electrolyte levels?
Before we go out and start chugging sports drinks, do you need them? Start paying attention to how you are feeling during and after your workouts and track this for the next 10 workouts. Are you having symptom(s) at least half the times you exercise? If you answer yes, then try the following suggestions.
1- Make sure you are drinking some water during your workouts, especially if you break a sweat. (Everyone is different in how quickly their body sweats out electorlytes, so I can’t make specific requirements without being able to consult each of you!) Aim for drinking half your body weight in ounces over the course of the day (weight 130 pounds means about 65 ounces of water). If you exercise, drink a couple extra ounces.
2- If you are still having symptoms despite drinking water, try adding a multi-mineral supplement at night instead of reaching for a sports drink. Sports drinks contain sugar, dyes and artificial ingredients. And not one of those will give you electrolytes. Quality does matter in a supplement. Cheap supplements often contain cheap ingredients, and the body can’t absorb them. Co-ops carry good supplements, and chiropractors are another place to find quality supplements. I don’t recommend buying them from pharmacies or grocery stores.
3- Get those minerals from food. Vegetables, nuts, and meat are the best choices for getting all your minerals. Fresh foods are best, rather than something boxed or canned.
Now you are all set. Pay a little attention to your body and you’ll know how to respond to keep yourself in tip-top condition for your workouts!