But did you know that coconut water has nearly five times the electrolytes as Gatorade?
Yeah, that stuff you see at sports events and on the grocery store shelves might scream “packed with electrolytes” but the fact of the matter is that unless you find yourself living the professional athlete lifestyle, the everyday sports drink is not going to cut it.
Electrolytes can make a big difference in your everyday health, especially on your weight loss journey.
There’s a lot to learn about electrolytes—what they are, why we need them, what happens if you don’t get them, and how to pack more in your daily diet—so I’m about to break it all down for you.
Enough chit-chat, let’s get to drinking…
If you crack open your high schooler’s chemistry book, you find, “an electrolyte is a compound that, when dissolved in a solution, produces ions that have either a positive or negative electrical charge.”
If you don’t remember high school chemistry (like most of us) here’s the layman’s explanation:
Electrolytes are mineral compounds. These compounds dissolve when they’re in water—what’s left are particles called ions. While not all ions have an electric charge, ions that come from dissolved electrolytes do. That’s why we call them electrolytes.
One of the most common electrolytes is sodium chloride. Sodium, as you may know, is salt. Our bodies need salt, and the right amount of it, to function. Potassium, another common electrolyte, is linked to many health benefits, like reduced blood pressure and protection against stroke.
Even if you didn’t know they were electrolytes, you’ve definitely heard of a few of them. Besides sodium chloride and potassium, electrolytes found in your body include chloride, calcium, copper, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphate, and bicarbonate.
Our bodies receive all of these electrolytes through the food we eat and the fluids we drink.
Electrolytes are crucial for many of our physical functions. They help balance blood acidity and pressure. They help to rebuild damaged tissue. They relieve headaches, flush out toxins, and enhance our exercise performance and recovery. But there are two particular functions that electrolytes have on the body that are essential to note:
Charged ions of electrolytes determine the flow of water in our cells. Without the balancing act between electrolytes and water, our cells would either shrivel and die or burst from being too full.
When a positive ion moves through one of our ion channels, it sparks an electrical impulse, signaling our bodies to function properly. Electrolytes control these constant impulses in our body to keep our hearts beating, our lungs breathing, and our brains working.
Excessively working out, rapid or extreme weight loss, and a poor diet high in unhealthy fats and low in protein can cause an electrolyte imbalance. Also, when we get a stomach bug or drink alcohol, our electrolytes can get depleted.
Some health conditions, like kidney disease, congestive heart failure, and bulimia can also cause electrolyte loss.
If you’re low on electrolytes, you may start to feel sick. Some common signs of electrolyte imbalance include:
Low electrolytes can impair your body’s functions. If your body doesn’t have enough electrolytes, your nerves won’t work properly which can lead to problems with your heart, blood pressure, and breathing. Blood clotting, muscle contractions, balance, and fluid regulation can all be impaired if your body lacks the electrolytes it needs.
When our bodies are dehydrated, they may rev up our cravings for foods high in the electrolytes we’re needing. Cravings for sweets, carbs, and salty snacks that also carry electrolytes may be our bodies’ attempt to quickly refill our electrolyte stores.
If caving into cravings keeps sabotaging your weight loss goals, try one of the following electrolyte-rich drinks or foods first. Answering your body’s cry for electrolytes could calm those munchies.
Staying properly hydrated will aid in digestion, keep you energized, promote weight loss, flush out toxins, and replenish your electrolytes. Even simple tap water contains trace amounts of electrolytes that will benefit your body.
If you need a bigger electrolyte boost, sip on something a little stronger. Electrolyte water is infused with much more of these important minerals that can get depleted. When shopping around, skip the sugary sodas, teas, and sports drinks. Instead, grab a clean SmartWater or Essentia at your grocery store.
If you want to incorporate more electrolytes into your regular diet, order a bottle of Hi Lyte, which is full of high-quality electrolytes without any added calories or sugar. Or you can give your water a natural boost of electrolytes by making your own hydration cocktail. Just mix 2 cups of water with 1 and ½ cups of coconut water, ¼ cup of lime juice, ¼ cup of lemon juice, and ¼ teaspoon of salt.
Foods like spinach, kale, avocado, broccoli, strawberries, bananas, yogurt, and chicken are full of important electrolyte minerals. Whole foods like these will also deliver many other important nutrients in addition to electrolytes.
It’s time to get a water bottle!
Start planning your strategy. What would motivate you to stay hydrated and get the electrolytes your body needs? Prioritize keeping your water on you at all times and slip a few electrolytes into it each day. Pick one or more of the four strategies listed above and try it out this week.
Thirsty for more info about hydration & health?
This month, we’ll be tackling the topic of hydration—teaching you how it relates to your health so that you can move forward in your health journey. Sign up for our weekly newsletter so you don’t miss it.
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