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by Charles Weller March 22, 2018

Most runners know they will need to replace electrolytes lost in sweat--that is the entire idea behind carrying sports drinks on long runs. But did you realize that your everyday diet is full of a wide array of these from whole foods which enable many important functions in the body?

Sodium is the most famous of the group, both for its standing as a significant constituent of sweat, as well as for its excess presence in the American diet. But best fluid and electrolyte balance past the salty stuff is vital not just for good health, but for athletic performance.

What are electrolytes?

Electrolytes are intertwined with all fluid in our body--not only sweat. Minerals consumed from foods in our daily diet dissolve in this fluid, breaking down into small electrically charged and strong particles. These newly formed charged electrolytes are present in our bloodstream, lymph system and urine in addition to from the fluid between and inside our cells.

What do electrolytes do?

While they do not contain energy, they do trigger electrical impulses. Muscle contraction requires the existence of sufficient sodium, potassium, and calcium; and muscular fatigue and cramping can result if these electrolytes aren't available in adequate quantities. Low electrolytes can also lead to mental confusion and brain drain. Electrolytes help nutrients move into cells and also assist water transfer out to stabilize your body's acid-base equilibrium.

What happens when you sweat?

Electrolyte balance is very closely regulated by our own bodies. When we eat a well-balanced diet with loads of variety, our kidneys are equipped to maintain or remove electrolytes as needed. But here is the catch--when you add exercise to the equation, you can lose important amounts of these in your perspiration. We also sweat lower levels of potassium, magnesium, and calcium, although it's ideal to make certain that you target excellent food sources of those three electrolytes daily.

How can you replace electrolytes?

replace electrolytes

By fueling, of course! During exercise, you may add an electrolyte mixture to your own water, or have a sports drink with both the electrolytes and performance-enhancing carbohydrate fuel. Based on your sweat rate, you might have to eat anywhere between 300mg to 1,000milligrams per hour. Sports drinks vary in sodium content but reach for people with high sodium levels if you're a salty sweater or when the weather is humid and hot.

Each pound of weight lost during a run reveals 15 oz of sweat. For every pound, eat 20 to 24 ounces of fluid during the next two hours.

Ground-Based Nutrition’s Organic Plant-Based Electrolytes has the perfect mix of plant-based minerals and electrolytes to support rapid rehydration and recovery. With 5 key electrolytes and 72 trace minerals all coming from 100% plant-based sources, your body will feel great and naturally perform at its best.

After a long, hard run that leaves you with some degree of dehydration, add salt to your recovery meal or snack. Many protein powders contain sodium (if you are going the post-workout shake path), and other salty fantastic suggestions include tomato juice, bread, and cereals.

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Charles Weller
Charles Weller

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