Most everyone has heard of electrolytes. It may have been your trainer reminding you to replenish them after a workout, or your doctor telling you to replace them if you have been sick and are experiencing dehydration.
Electrolytes are basically salts, and salts along with water help to keep the electrical charges in our bodies working properly. Sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorous are the most common electrolytes. Water acts as a carrier for the electrolytes.
Electrolytes are essential in helping to maintain optimal performance while working out. When you sweat, your body loses both water and electrolytes. If you are not properly hydrated both before and during your workout, it can lead to dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration and electrolyte depletion include fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness, nausea, muscle spasms and numbness.
Most commonly, we are encouraged to consume sports drinks, such as Gatorade or Powerade, to satisfy the replenishment process. However, these drinks are full of refined sugars, chemicals, additives, artificial colors, artificial flavors and a host of other ingredients you simply want to avoid. Additionally, they are loaded with empty calories, as much as or more than soda.
You can easily make your own healthy electrolyte water replacement. A basic recipe of citrus and salt will do the trick. A piece of citrus fruit alone is an excellent and fast source of replenishment and provides natural sugars. But citrus juice (from oranges, lemons, grapefruit and limes) can be easily mixed with water (preferably distilled water as it is the purest; avoid tap water) and a little salt (preferably sea salt; avoid table salt) to create a quick and satisfying sports drink. For a super charged energy drink, try using raw coconut water, which naturally has 13x more potassium than Gatorade and 2x more sodium than Gatorade.
BASIC ELECTROLYTE WATER:
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ cup orange juice
4 cups filtered water
¾ cup citrus juice (combine various types)
¼ cup raw honey or maple syrup
1/2 tsp sea salt