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By JACQUELINE KAMINSKI

Have you ever worn a hat during your workout and later noticed white stains all over it? Well, those aren’t necessarily stains, but the dried electrolytes from your sweat!

Electrolytes (and hydration) is an important subject for fitness enthusiasts, NASM-CPTs and Nutrition Coaches to dive deeper into. This blog will specificially talk about foods that can replenish electrolytes naturally.

Table of Contents

  • What are Electrolytes
  • Foods to Replenish Electrolytes
    • Sodium
    • Potassium
    • Calcium
    • Magnesium
  • Should You Use Electrolyte Beverages
  • Signs of Electrolyte Imbalance
  • Electrolytes Lost in Sweat

WHAT ARE ELECTROLYTES?

Electrolytes are minerals in the body that produce an electric current when dissolved in water and are responsible for maintaining fluid balance, balancing the body’s pH level. They also move nutrients in cells, push waste out of cells, and keep the normal function of all of our nerves and muscles – especially our heart and brain.

The level of electrolytes in our body is highly influenced by the amount of food and water we consume or lack thereof.

FOODS TO REPLENISH ELECTROLYTES

Here are some of the best natural sources of electrolytes you can consume to replenish electrolytes:

TO REPLENISH SODIUM:

  • Salted Nuts
  • Pretzels
  • Crackers
  • Deli Meats
  • Smoked Salmon
  • Canned Beans

TO REPLENISH POTASSIUM

  • Bananas
  • Potatoes
  • Leafy Greens
  • Citrus
  • Coconut
  • Avocado
  • Zucchini
  • Mushrooms
  • Halibut, Cod, or Tuna
  • Legumes

TO REPLENISH CALCIUM

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Almonds
  • Broccoli
  • Fortified Cereals

TO REPLENISH MAGNESIUM

  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Spinach
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Nuts
  • Whole Grains
  • Peanut Butter

SHOULD YOU USE ELECTROLYTE DRINKS?

Yes! Consumption of electrolyte beverages can also be helpful to prevent electrolyte imbalance and dehydration and is highly recommended when intense exercise exceeds 1 hour in duration or is taking place in hot, humid environments where sweat rates are significantly increased. Water follows sodium, which is why electrolytes are an excellent hydrating agent.

Choosing electrolyte beverages such as Pedialyte, sports drinks like Gatorade, Powerade, or Body armor, electrolyte infused waters, or mixing electrolyte powders in your water is highly recommended if participating in activities outside for long durations.

However, consuming too many electrolytes is possible and can lead to issues such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and mental confusion. So it’s important to not drink excessive amounts of electrolyte beverages in a short period.

COMMON SIGNS OF ELECTROLYTE IMBALANCE

Common signs of electrolyte imbalance include:
– dizziness
– muscle cramps
– irregular heartbeat
– mental confusion
– headache
– fatigue
– dark-colored urine
– nausea & vomiting

Since most people will experience signs and symptoms of low electrolyte levels due to dehydration, it’s important to ensure you’re consuming adequate water and electrolytes throughout the day. Luckily, many electrolytes exist naturally in foods

ELECTROLYTES LOST IN SWEAT

The majority of people will usually lose electrolytes by excessive sweating and not replacing both fluids and electrolytes lost in sweat. But what electrolytes exist in sweat? Sweat is composed of sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Sodium and chloride are the most abundant electrolytes in sweat and are responsible for regulating and maintaining fluid balance (along with potassium). Magnesium and calcium play important roles in maintaining muscle function and optimizing metabolism.

Since the balance of electrolytes in our body is highly influenced by how much water we lose through sweat and/or how we replace it by consumption of water and food, it’s essential to be aware of some critical signs and symptoms of the levels in our body are too high or too low.

CONCLUSION

Overall, electrolytes are important for maintaining hydration levels and ensuring optimal muscle and nerve function. Dehydration is the most likely cause of electrolyte imbalance, and it’s crucial to ensure you are drinking plenty of fluids and eating a variety of healthy foods throughout the day to prevent any issues associated with low electrolyte levels.

REFERENCES

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THE AUTHOR

Jacqueline Kaminski

JACQUELINE KAMINSKI

Jackie Kaminski is a registered dietitian/ nutritionist with a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology & Sports Nutrition from Florida State University. Her first introduction to working with professional athletes was back in 2017 when she worked at the UFC performance institute in Las Vegas, Nevada. Since then, Jackie has worked with various professional fighters and other clientele and now operates under her company she started back in March, The Fight Nutritionist LLC. The Fight Nutritionist is dedicated to providing the most effective nutrition plans to ensure her athletes are performance at their absolute best. All of her plans are individualized to the athlete and are backed by the latest research to ensure complete safety and efficacy. Jackie is also a member of the international society of sports nutrition, where she often participates in different research projects and data collection with other ISSN members from Nova University. When Jackie isn’t working, you can find her at Combat Club where she trains kickboxing and Muy Thai. As a sports dietitian, Jackie’s aim is to provide her athletes with the necessary fuel to excel in training and provide the proper education to ensure her athletes are engaging in the safest health practices (as they relate to combat sports).