“Fahew! that was a sweaty one,” I said as I looked down at the puddle beneath our spin bikes. My friends and I had just finished a spin class at i.d. gym and were in serious need of replenishing our electrolytes. Gatorade? Powerade? SmartWater? VitaminWater? What does one choose? My instincts told my friend Erin, who was ready to head right over to the 7-eleven to purchase something, to get SmartWater. But really, what would be the best choice…I decided to do some investigating…
What exactly are electrolytes? Most athletes know they need them, especially after a work out, but why? What for?
Electrolytes are major factors in muscle and nerve function, maintaining hydration, and your body’s PH balance. They are composed of different elements, positive and negative ions, mainly potassium, magnesium, calcium, chloride and sodium. When you sweat, you loose H2O and these electrolytes.
There are several great healthy foods and snacks that are high in these nutrients without all the added refined sugars in Gatorade, POWERADE and the like. In fact, large amounts of refined sugars can actually hinder your body’s ability to properly absorb and process electrolytes. Most sports drinks fill you up on sugar before they fill you up on electrolytes. The General Dentistry even published a study that showed that sports drinks are causing irreversible damage to teeth. Not to mention, all the added chemicals to make it a highlighter blue and taste like “glacier freeze.” Lets take a look at which electrolytes are in natural whole foods…
Sodium chloride is a fancy name for table salt. (Now you understand why sweaty bodies taste salty – you all know what I mean, let’s just agree we won’t ask each other how we know this…) Hence, adding a pinch of salt into your water/smoothie is helpful. By the way, table salt can be stripped of other nutrients so when available use sea salt or himalayn salt. Side note-most people don’t have a problem adding salt into their diet. I know I like to cake it on while I am cooking so I never actually put it in my smoothies.
Calcium, potassium & mangesium are found in lots of fruits and veggies. Here’s a small list that have a high quantity of more than one electrolyte:
- spinach – calcium, potassium & magnesium
- bananas – potasium, magnesium
- oranges- calcium, potassium
- coconut water-calcium, potassium & magnesium
*Check out more nutrient data lists posted by the USDA
Conclusion: you might want to run home and make yourself a fresh food smoothie (or store one pre-made in the fridge) before grabbing a sugary sports drink after your workout. If you are on the go, opt for buying coconut water or SmartWater. At least they don’t have added sugar.
I have some great smoothie recipes with the above listed ingredients. Look for them in my next post…