Electrolyte seems like a fancy term that could have been engineered by energy companies, and that's probably why these companies have latched onto the idea for ads. Let's start off with the big question:
By definition, electrolytes include all chemicals that conduct electricity with water. Our bodies have many different electrolytes that help us function: calcium, potassium, sodium, bicarbonate, magnesium, chloride, and phosphate. Sounds like a basic chemistry lesson.
The advertising companies will have you believe that electrolytes ONLY come from electrolyte supplements and popular sports drinks... although this is a great way to get them in many cases, there are many sources of electrolytes.
Most fruits and vegetables contain a good amount of electrolytes and are essential for most basic body functions. They interact with one another and are vital for your tissues, muscles, nerves, and cells.
The reason they are so important for sports is that many are lost through sweat causing an imbalance that can result in muscle aches and twitches. That’s why it’s smart to eat a banana before strenuous exercise to avoid cramping.
This is where things get a little tricky. Like most good things in life, too much is bad for you, as is too little. Basically, you want to achieve a solid balance of electrolytes for your body to function at its peak. Too much or too few can cause a very wide range of symptoms from headaches to thirst, to nausea to bone aches, and even digestive issues!
Most sports drinks have a good amount of electrolytes, but, too much sugar which causes an energy crash. Some have too many electrolytes which cause similar issues to not having enough. Ideally, you'll want low to no sugar and just the right amount of electrolytes.
So should I start drinking electrolyte supplements all the time to stay in balance? Yes, but only if you need them and in moderation! You most likely know when your body needs something if you listen. If you're cramping and having muscular issues it's likely because your electrolyte levels are low. But if you just drank a ton of supplements than it's because you have too many!
Drink electrolyte supplements during exercise, or when you don't have access to good healthy food that contains them naturally.
Keep in mind the additional purposes that your supplement of choice is designed to help with. Sports drinks typically are very high in sugar which isn't the best option due to the inevitable crash.
Since sodium is an electrolyte and affects water retention, it's important to monitor these levels as well. If you eat a lot of food that's high in sodium, you're more likely to have bloating and feel lethargic due to higher water retention. If you don't get enough sodium you'll be dehydrated with headaches and fatigue. Balancing your fluid and electrolytes will keep you feeling great.
Water intake is also very important to monitor because over-hydrating leads to the same issues. Most of us experience dehydration more commonly which is just as uncomfortable.
Basically, staying in balance really means sticking to the old saying, "everything in moderation."
Now that you know what electrolytes are and how to regulate them with electrolyte supplements and by monitoring your intake, you'll be able to keep your body feeling great.
Plus, you can tell your friends who say, "drink this, it's got electrolytes..." that many of the things we eat and drink every day have electrolytes too, and why that matters!
At PepPod, we've worked hard to create a formula that provides a healthy boost of electrolytes, without the added sugar. Because it's an electrolyte supplement you drink, it keeps you hydrated to maintain healthy functions.
Here's a breakdown of the electrolytes found in a PepPod:
Sodium Bicarbonate & Carbonate: 90mg, 4% DV
Potassium Bicarbonate: 180mg, 4% DV
Calcium Carbonate: 40mg, 4% DV
Magnesium Oxide: 16mg, 4% DV
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