I have been exercising for most of my adult life.
That includes hours at the gym, biking and walking in all weather, mountain walks in all weather, as well as just general hard labor in the summer.
I’ve never given electrolytes a thought.
When we were doing mountain walks in Andorra our Fearless Leader used to eat ‘salt sandwiches’ for breakfast on hot days. He said it was so that he didn’t sweat and lose nutrients. He said he had learned that while working in Libya, in the desert.
He never had water with him on the walks – never drank it. We would be out for hours in the hot sun and he never had so much as a sip.
He also had never owned a TV so I just decided he was a little on the weird side….
Anyway, as I said, I never gave a thought to electrolytes – until recently. I started noticing that on hot days the dogs would run up to me when I got home – and lick my legs.
They liked the salt.
That, coupled with muscle cramps, made me think I should replace whatever it was I was losing….. Electrolytes.
Read on for more info….
Benefits Of Natural Electrolyte Drinks
No matter what you drink, it will contain a certain amount of electrolytes. You can find it even in plain tap water.
But, the amount of these minerals will vary. There are fewer of them in water, for instance than in milk. Branded drinks are the same. Some will have a lot of minerals but some will have more sugars and carbs and still be marketed as sports drinks.
Either way, what are their benefits?
Why Are Electrolytes Important?
These are essential minerals that are found in your bodily fluids and they are important for some vital functions of our bodies, as you can learn here.
- They regulate your blood pressure
- They maintain the right pH levels of your blood
- They help your muscles work properly and that includes your heart
- They control the balance of fluids in your body
Some of the essential ones are chloride, potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and so on. Sports drinks are often full of them, but the amount can vary depending on the brand. Any type of water contains minerals unless it’s been distilled, and some products contain a bit of sugar for taste.
The value in store-bought electrolyte waters is in the bigger amounts of minerals that they contain. You can find out what the daily values of each mineral are and how to get it here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK234935/
Here are some of the benefits of drinking water with electrolytes:
Healthy sports drinks with natural ingredients help by hydrating you first and foremost. They give you back the fluids that you have lost during exercise. Water loss leads to loss in strength which means that your performance will suffer. Your speed, energy and focus too.
This is why replenishing sports drinks are important while you exercise. Tap water will also help, but there are more minerals in drinks that have specifically been made for active people. Especially so if your workout routine is long, difficult, you sweat a lot or you exercise in a hot environment like hot yoga for example.
Don’t drink sports drinks if you don’t work out because you’re just adding calories which you don’t really need. And having more minerals than you need is not healthy.
Good When You’re Sick
When you have a stomach bug, you lose a lot of minerals through vomiting or diarrhea. These are not serious conditions, yet they do lead to dehydration which can be dangerous. This is why your doctor orders you to drink as much water as possible if you have these problems.
However, you could replenish your levels with more ease if you drink sports drinks. Just make sure that they don’t have a huge amount of sugar. While even kids can drink electrolyte solutions prescribed by doctors, they shouldn’t drink sports drinks as they can worsen their state.
Prevent Heat Issues
If you’re in a hot environment, you can risk suffering from a problem like a heat rash. Of course, heat can also cause more serious issues like a heatstroke. Your body can normally deal with this through sweating but if it’s too hot, it will need help.
This can come from either a cooling device or water. Electrolyte water is even better, in fact, as it gives you back all of the minerals that you lose by sweating.
Keep in mind that coffee or soda won’t help because they can worsen your condition. So can tea and alcohol.
Difference Between Electrolyte and Regular Water
Hydration is essential for health. Your body needs water to perform all sorts of functions and both electrolyte and tap water can do a good job here. Of course, this water contains more healthy ingredients than other beverages – but coffee, tea, juice, milk, and other drinks all count when it comes to hydration.
Whether electrolyte water is better than any of them depends on the water itself and your circumstances. It’s definitely better if you have a stomach bug or if you’re in an extremely hot environment, as well as when you exercise. However, it has to be quality water with low amounts of sugar or no sugar, like electrolyte drinks from DrinkGT. If you’re mainly sedentary, then sports drinks have no purpose.
You can also replenish with regular water if you sweat only occasionally.
Here are some cases in which you need to quickly make up for lost minerals and sports drinks will do.
- When you exercise for more than an hour
- If your exercise means sweating more than normal
- If you are vomiting or have diarrhea
- If you know that you will be in a hot environment for longer periods of time
Other than that, you will probably be satisfied with regular beverages.
Sports drinks are great as a way to make up for what you lost either in sweat or other body waste. They bring some benefits for you and if you can find a drink with low sugar and a high level of minerals, you will enjoy them all the more.
Sounds better than a salt sandwich….