Did you know that electrolytes are essential for human health?
Without electrolytes, our muscles would not be able to contract, and we would not be able to move.
On the less serious side, if you're low on electrolytes, your athletic performance and overall energy levels will suffer.
In this blog post, we will discuss what electrolytes are, what they do for the body, and the best foods to get more electrolytes in your diet.
We will also provide tips on how to stay hydrated!
What are Electrolytes?
Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electric charge, and they make communication between cells, muscles, and the brain possible.
They are found in the blood and other body fluids, and they are essential for human health.
Think of electrolytes as a electrical highway of communication.
When your body has plenty of electrolytes, your body can communicate efficiently with itself and perform accordingly.
But when you're low on electrolytes, this road gets bumpy. You'll notice that your mental state isn't as sharp, and you might even feel dizzy.
If you go without electrolytes for too long - such as in a survival situation - you risk serious medical complications including death.
Types of Electrolytes
There are several different types of electrolytes. The most popular ones include:
What Do Electrolytes Do for Your Body?
As we talked about above, electrolytes play a vital role in the body.
Aside from being crucial for bodily communication and performance, electrolytes helps with the following:
- Muscle contraction
- pH balanace
- Nerve function
- Blood pressure stabilization
- Regulate chemical reactions
- Maintain fluid balance
- Support a normal heartbeat
How to Get Electrolytes
There are two primary ways to ingest electrolytes: foods and drinks.
The other methods are situational and highly impractical such as having an IV bag full of electrolytes.
With that said, let's start with the foods that have the most electrolytes.
What Foods Have Electrolytes?
There are many different foods that have electrolytes. Let's breakdown these foods by category so it'll be easier to include them into your shopping list:
Beans and Legumes
Nuts and Seeds
Meat and Poultry
- fish, such as flounder
What Drinks Have Electrolytes?
There are many different drinks that have electrolytes, but some are better at other times than others.
Water with Himalayan Salt: This is your best option. No calories and provides proper hydration.
Coconut Water: Naturally packed with electrolytes, coconut water is a fantastic drink to replenish electrolytes. It also contains natural sugar so be aware of this if you're on a low-sugar diet.
Sports Drinks: These drinks are great for replenishing your electrolytes and glucose levels post-workout. If you drink these outside of your workouts, consider a sugar-free version.
Teas: Most teas are a great source of natural electrolytes, but teas with higher caffeine content act as a diuretic, which can promote dehydration. This is really only something to worry about if you're not a consistent black / high-caffeine tea drinker. If you normally drink high-caffeine tea, your body has adjusted to this and the diuretic effect is either greatly reduced or non-existent.
Electrolyte Supplement: Finally, one of the best ways to get electrolytes into your drink is with a supplement. This type of supplement comes in both powder and liquid form.
Tips to Replenish Electrolytes to Stay Hydrated
Now that we know what electrolytes are and what they do for our bodies, let's discuss some tips on how to stay hydrated and replenish our electrolytes!
1. Hydrate Smart
Yes, it's important to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, especially water. But there's a catch to this: you want to hydrate with drinks that contain electrolytes.
For example, you can take a Himalayan salt capsule then drink 16 to 24 ounces of water.
If you were to only drink tap water, you would flush more electrolytes out of your system than you're adding.
2. Time Hydration Around Activities
If you know that you're going to be active, drink fluids before, during and after the activity. This will help replace the electrolytes that are lost when you sweat.
For example, if you're playing a sport or working out at the gym, drink water with electrolytes before and during the activity. And then afterward, enjoy a sports drink or coconut water to replenish your electrolytes and glucose levels.
We would also recommend consuming a protein shake to support muscle recovery. This will also help replenish electrolytes.
It might not seem like it, but if you're out in the hot sun all day, this is going to feel like an activity to your body. Make sure to drink fluids with electrolytes and eat electrolyte-heavy foods (e.g., cold fruits) and take breaks in the shade. And when you're done for the day, have a glass of cold water with electrolytes.
3. Be Careful with Diuretics
Some drinks and medications can actually cause you to lose more fluids and electrolytes.
For example, caffeine is a diuretic and can make you dehydrated. So if you're drinking coffee or tea, be sure to also drink plenty of water.
As mentioned above, if you've been drinking coffee and tea for years, your body has probably adjusted to the diuretic effects, but it's still a good idea to drink extra water.
Similarly, alcohol is also a diuretic and can lead to dehydration. This is one drink your body does not adjust to in regard to electrolytes.
This is why you feel terrible after a night of drinking too much. It's not the alcohol that causes you to feel like that - it's dehydration.
So if you're going to drink, make sure to also drink plenty of fluids with electrolytes.
4. Eat a Well-Balanced Diet
A well-balanced diet is key to maintaining your health. And that includes getting enough electrolytes.
To ensure you're getting all the electrolytes your body needs, make sure to include plenty of foods that contain natural electrolytes such as fruits, vegetables and dairy.
And if you're looking for a quick way to replenish electrolytes, try an electrolyte supplement powder.
5. Don't Be Afraid of (the Right) Salt
Many people are afraid of salt because they think it will raise their blood pressure.
But the truth is, our bodies need salt to function properly.
So, if you're sweating a lot or losing fluids for any other reason, don't be afraid to add some extra salt to your diet.
Just be sure to choose a healthy salt such as pink Himalayan salt.
6. Sports Drink Checklist
If you're opting for a sports drink to replenish your electrolytes, use these tips to make sure you're doing it right.
Look for a mix of electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium) - not just one.
Look for one that is low in added sugar (and no artificial sugars). The exception would be when you're re-fueling mid or post-workout.
Avoid artificial colors and additives when you can.
7. Do a Medication Check
Did you know that some medications can negatively impact your electrolyte intake?
For example, diuretics (as we just discussed), as well as steroids and some cancer treatments can lead to electrolyte imbalances
If you're concerned about how your medications might be impacting your electrolyte levels, be sure to talk to your doctor.