All humans need electrolytes to survive. Electrolytes interact with each other and the cells in the tissues, nerves, and muscles. Many automatic processes in the body rely on the electric charge these electrolytes carry in order to function.
Electrolytes assist to balance the amount of water in your body, balance your pH level, move nutrients into your cells and waste out of your cells, and make sure that all your muscles, nerves, and organs (including the heart and brain) work the way they should.
Common symptoms of electrolyte imbalance include irregular heartbeat, fatigue, muscle cramps/spasms, lethargy, nausea, vomiting, and convulsions or seizures.
The important ones to replenish with the foods we eat are sodium, calcium, potassium, chlorine, phosphate, and magnesium.
Under most conditions, if you eat a variety of foods on a daily basis, you have no problem with electrolyte balance. As an athlete, every time you train or compete, you are losing electrolytes through your sweat. The longer you train, the warmer it is, and the more humid it is, the more electrolytes you will lose. These are the times you need to focus on replenishing your electrolytes.
If you go online or to a store, you will find a wide variety of options for electrolyte replacements. Some are better than others. In my opinion, it is best to stay away from any that have added sugars (cane sugar, corn syrup) or artificial sweeteners (sucralose, aspartame). Some have added dextrose, which is a carbohydrate, so if you feel you need that you can go that route. Personally, I like my electrolytes to just be electrolytes.
I have a list of the better electrolyte options on the market. I will not say one will work better for you than another, but these are the options that are very clean and pure, no added sugars or other unnecessary chemicals.
UCAN Hydrate – a clean, natural electrolyte replacement specially designed by an Olympic dietitian to keep you hydrated the healthy way. No sugar, 5 essential electrolytes, sweetened with stevia, no artificial ingredients.
Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator – all the essential electrolytes your body needs to stay hydrated durin workouts – or throughout the day. No sugar, all essential electrolytes, sweetened with stevia, red beet powder for extra energy, and Vitamin C.
Ultima Replenisher – combination of balance electrolytes allows for rapid re-hydration without blood sugar spikes or stomach upset so you can feel and perform your best.
LyteShow – creates an isotonic beverage that rapidly replaces valuable electrolytes and fluids.
Salt Stick Caps – clean and simple ingredients, provide electrolytes to help minimize heat stress and muscle cramping due to perspiration, in a quantity and form which your body can absorb.
Coconut water – contains 5 essential electrolytes
Pickle juice – contains sodium and potassium
If you are noticing yourself “crashing” during your workouts, getting lightheaded or dizzy, or feeling fatigued and lethargic later in the day, add some electrolytes in and see what happens. You will likely notice a significant difference!
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