Electrolytes provide your body with an electrical charge.
Electrolytes are minerals in your body that have an electric charge, says Brittney Bearden, a sports dietitian with Texas Health Sports Medicine in Dallas.
These minerals include sodium, potassium, calcium, bicarbonate, magnesium, chloride and phosphate.
“Many bodily functions depend on electrolytes,” Bearden says. “For example, calcium and magnesium are needed for muscle contractions. Electrolyte imbalances can have a harmful effect on your health. Dehydration is a common cause of electrolyte imbalance, which can be brought on by vomiting, diarrhea or excessive sweating.”
— Muscle function.
— Blood pressure.
— Nerve function.
Electrolytes also play an important role in hydration and pH balance. Here are eight healthy drinks rich in electrolytes.
1. Coconut water
An 8-ounce serving of coconut water provides 470 milligrams of potassium, Bearden says, which makes it an excellent source for that mineral. However, the same amount only has 25 milligrams of sodium. “Athletes and people who sweat heavily should be aware of the low sodium content,” she says. “Sodium is one of the main electrolytes lost in sweat and needs to be replaced after heavy sweating.”
2. Electrolyte-infused water
There are a number of electrolyte-infused waters available in many grocery stores. Some, like Propel, have fruit flavoring. You can also purchase electrolyte tablets, which are widely available for purchase online, and simply drop them into a glass of water, says Dr. Natasha Trentacosta, a sports medicine specialist and orthopedic surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles.
“Electrolyte-infused waters or electrolyte tablets dropped into water can provide a low-calorie and low-sugar alternative to higher calorie and higher sugar content drinks like juices or sports drinks,” Trentacosta says. Still, it’s important to read labels, because some electrolyte-infused drinks contain added sugar.
3. Fruit juice
Cherry, watermelon and orange juice are good sources of electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium and phosphorus, says Lisa Jones, a registered dietitian based in Philadelphia. “One hundred percent fruit juice also contributes high amounts of vitamins and antioxidants,” Jones says. Fruit juice is typically high in sugar, so you may want to dilute your juice with water, she advises.
Consider making your own beverage by adding whole fruit to water, she says. Bear in mind that fruit juice isn’t the ideal choice for replacing electrolytes after sweating.
With 370 milligrams of sodium per 12-ounce serving, Pedialyte isn’t just for kids, Bearden says. The same amount of the beverage also provides 280 milligrams of potassium. “With only 35 calories, it makes for a low-calorie option for less active individuals looking to limit their caloric intake from beverages,” she says.
5. Plant-based milks
If you’re lactose-intolerant, allergic to dairy or on a vegan regimen, plant-based milks can be a good source of electrolytes, Jones says. Some plant-based milks are fortified with calcium.
Keep in mind that even though their electrolyte profile is not equivalent to cow’s milk, many dairy alternatives — such as soy, coconut, hemp and rice milk — are often fortified with extra calcium. Plus, almond and soy provide a great source of phosphorus.
Plant-based milks include:
6. Pickle juice
When you think about a post-workout beverage, you probably don’t consider pickle juice. While it may be an acquired taste, pickle juice provides a great, quick shot of electrolytes if you’ve been sweating heavily, Trentacosta says. It’s high in sodium, which your body needs to replenish after lots of perspiration.
Drinking a fruit or vegetable smoothie is a good way to replenish electrolytes after a vigorous workout, Trentacosta says. You can make smoothies with a variety of fruits and vegetables, including bananas, apples, mangos, blueberries, strawberries, cauliflower, spinach and kale. Smoothies tend to be heavy and filling, so you may want to consume small portions after exercising vigorously.
8. Sports drinks
Many sports drinks are high in electrolytes. “Gatorade is a classic sports drink that provides carbohydrates, fluid and electrolytes,” Bearden says. Sports beverages are best for people who exercise for an hour or more in hot and humid conditions. An 8-ounce glass of Gatorade contains 110 milligrams of sodium, 30 milligrams of potassium and 14 grams of carbs. There are many other sports drinks that contain electrolytes also available at the grocery store.
To recap, here are eight healthy drinks rich in electrolytes:
— Coconut water.
— Electrolyte-infused water.
— Fruit juice.
— Plant-based milks.
— Pickle juice.
— Sports drinks.
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