Electrolytes, such as sodium, calcium, chloride, magnesium, and potassium, are minerals that dissolve into your body’s fluid and fuel many heart, nerve, and muscle functions. For example, electrolytes carry electrical charges that are responsible for stimulating your muscles, so without the proper amount of electrolytes in your body, you are more susceptible to muscle cramps. Electrolytes also help balance your body fluid levels, which affect cellular function, blood volume, and blood pressure. Because electrolytes are necessary for the body to function properly, the lack of these minerals can cause dehydration, make weight-loss more challenging, and affect your overall health.
Although most of us are able to obtain substantial electrolytes through a proper diet, electrolytes, especially sodium, are regularly lost through urine and sweat. You naturally lose different amounts of electrolytes, but often times when following a diet plan, the change can alter the types of nutrients you get. Thus, it is important to make sure you replenish those lost electrolytes to restore the necessary minerals.
The loss of fluids containing electrolytes can also result in dehydration that will prevent your body from performing at its best. Some symptoms of dehydration include headaches, fatigue, and dizziness. These effects can be harmful and difficult to deal with but can easily be prevented by staying hydrated and including electrolytes in your diet. Although drinking plain water will help rehydrate your body, you will replenish your body’s electrolytes faster and more efficiently by consuming liquids that are enhanced with electrolytes. Water with electrolytes not only help prevent dehydration due to the fact that water is being consumed but also by stimulating the body’s ability to retain water.
There are several types of beverages that contain electrolytes. However, aside from simply finding an electrolyte enhanced refresher, you also need to watch out for what else is in your drink. One of the most common performance enhanced drinks on the market is sport drinks, such as Gatorade and Propel. Although these drinks do contain electrolytes that can help your body, most sport drinks also contain a lot of sugar, which is not good for your weight-loss diet plan. The high levels of sugar makes these drinks addictive and not fully beneficial to your body. Vitamin Water is another example of enhanced water that can provide electrolytes but likewise contains high amounts of sugar. Drinking excess amounts of any of these can negatively affect your diet and lead to weight gain.
Instead of high sugar sports drinks, plain electrolyte water is a great way to intake all the necessary electrolytes without the added calories. Many grocery shops and corner stores now carry electrolyte water. Popular brands include SmartWater and Essentia. Trader Joe’s similarly offers their own brand of electrolyte water that is reasonably priced and has a pure, refreshing taste. In addition to bottled electrolyte water, many athletic stores, like REI and Road Runner, also carry electrolyte tablets that can be added into plain water for the same effect. Nuun and GU Brew, for example, are easy, compacted brands that can be kept on hand for better hydration.
For those of you who just do not like the taste of plain water, there are also flavored electrolyte enhanced drinks in bottled and tablets forms. Again, be sure to check for the amount of added sugar in these flavored versions to make sure they match your diet plan. A popular option is Mio Fit, which boasts zero calories and zero sugars. Nuun is a another brand that also creates flavored tablets with only a few grams of sugar per tablet for each 16 fluid ounces. If you prefer to make your own fresh version, try the following recipe: mix 8 ounces of non-carbonated water with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, a small pinch of salt, and a zero calorie sweetener, such as Stevia, to taste.
Since electrolytes are very important for your daily functions, make sure your body always has enough electrolytes to perform well. Replenish regularly whether it be from a bottle, a tablet, or your own creation. And remember: regularly consuming liquids will be the most effective way to keep yourself hydrated, function properly, curb your appetite, and thereby help your diet.