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If you want to perform consistently, you need to be sure and hydrate and replenish your electrolytes. While we all know what hydration means, most of us are only familiar with the term “electrolyte” because we see and hear it all the time without knowing what it actually means.
What Are Electrolytes?
Unlike so many other things advertisers push to show their product is the best, electrolytes aren’t just some useless add-on. Though some have the opinion that if you simply drink water, you’re doing enough to rehydrate after a grueling workout, this unfortunately just isn’t the case.
When people are talking about electrolytes, what they’re referring to is a group of salts, or more specifically irons, that carry a positive electrical charge. Some common electrolytes are:
There have been a number of studies surrounding electrolytes and exactly what they do for our body. Or, more to the point, what happens to our body as we excrete them. Low electrolytes, as it turns out, can have a number of negative effects.
So why is it so important that we maintain such a high concentration of electrolytes in our blood? Or, another way to ask that question: why is simply drinking water not enough?
When you move your arm, your brain is sending an electrical impulse through your nervous system to that muscle group telling it to contract. The signal is then sent through the cells of your muscles in order to contract them.
Electrolytes are positively charged ions. The cells in your body use electrolytes to maintain the voltage needed to transmit messages from the brain to the rest of your body. When the concentration of electrolytes gets low due to sweat inducing activity, it can lead to misfires in the system which cause spasms, cramps, and thermoregulation which makes it difficult to tolerate the heat.
When you sweat during exercise, the majority of what you lose are sodium and chloride. Basically, table salt. Replenishing your body with these is fairly simple and can be found in most sports drinks.
Not a fan of the sugary beverages? Me neither. Fortunately, there are really good options available that you probably haven’t heard of – and most of them you just mix with water.
- Hammer HEED – Lemon Lime
- SaltStick Caps
- Endurolytes Fizz
- Endure – Performance Electrolytes
- LyteShow – For Rapid Rehydration
- Gerolsteiner – Sparkling Mineral Water
- Vega Sport – Electrolyte Hydrator
- Ultima Replenisher – Balanced Electrolyte Powder
- Gatorade – Pepsi owned; full of artificial coloring and flavoring; 21g of sugar per 12 oz serving. Artificial coloring has been proven again and again to link to many health problems and it’s a real shame the FDA still allows their usage in the United States. Read this to get a good scare and detailed rundown of why you should be avoiding these chemicals.
- Powerade – Same story: Coca-Cola owned; A bunch of chemically induced colors and flavors, a little veggie oil, and 20 packed grams of high fructose corn syrup.
- Powerade Zero – Also has artificial flavors and colors but sweetened with sucralose, aka Splenda, which is known to cause problems with your intestinal bacteria.
- PediaLyte – This stuff is marketed for kids which is heart breaking. But it uses the same artificial blends of colors and flavors as the other garbage electrolyte drinks. It also have sucralose which cancels out the added probiotics they use to entice parents.
- Propel – Same same same…same artificial flavors and colors, no sugar, more salt, and add a little sucralose for some digestional tract issues and you’ve got every other well known sports drink with a different name.
- Vitaminwater – 32 grams of sugar, suckers.
- Less popular but also worth mentioning: Lucozade Sport (aspartame), Accelerade (sucrose, fructose, and GMO soy protein), Cytomax by Muscle Milk (crystalline fructose and barely-tested heavy metals)
- Anything containing Sodium Benzoate.
Water is important, especially during these hot summer months, but to maintain performance and health, make sure you’re replacing the electrolytes you lose. Adding electrolytes to your water is THE BEST way to go. If you’re considering a Gatorade because you don’t have anything else on hand, you’re better off skipping it and grabbing a nearby garden house.
Kevin Jones has mastered a busy lifestyle with work and fitness combined with family life. He writes offering solutions for personal fitness and time management as well as keeping families fit together by utilizing activities and diet. You can read more of Kevin’s writings by connecting with him online; LinkedIn – Twitter