Pinterest

by Truth Fry October 28, 2022 6 min read

Want to hear something crazy? 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated, according to the lay press [1]. Water is the most important nutrient we need! I mean, it literally makes up roughly 60% of your body weight.

Now, just because you aren't walking around thirsty all day doesn't mean you're hydrated. Your body may not be topped off on the water it needs to function properly.

Being fully hydrated is a crucial element to your overall health for many reasons, such as:

• Regulating body temperature
• Lubricating joints
• Preventing infections
• Delivering nutrients to cells
• Keeping organs functioning properly
• Quality sleep
• Cognitive function
• Mood

Even a small deficit in hydration can have a substantial effect on exercise performance and well-being.

Are You Drinking Enough Water?

So obviously, we all need to drink a little more water, but is it really that simple? There is actually another aspect to hydration that gets overlooked. That aspect is getting enough electrolytes.

That’s far from the only reason why electrolytes are important though! Plus, when it comes to picking the "best electrolyte powder" ... there are a lot of factors to consider.

We'll cover all of that and more ... but first, you should probably know what electrolytes are all about...

What Are Electrolytes?

Electrolytes are essential minerals that your body needs to function. A handful of these include sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and chloride.

Without these electrolytes, you would not be able to think, move, or even live.

You'll find them in a lot of the foods you eat, and might even add some to your food without knowing it. When you salt your food, you’re adding sodium and chloride into your diet.

Some people may mistakenly look at salting your food as a "bad thing". That's because most people think that dietary sodium leads to high blood pressure. They aren't wrong ... but that's in EXCESS. Salting your food can actually be a good thing if you exercise and follow a well-balanced diet.

How to Stop Overeating

But, if you're eating a bunch of processed, junky food ... Salting your food may not be the best idea.

Too much of anything can be bad though, so take that statement with a grain of salt and don’t over-do it. See what I did there?

What Do Electrolytes Do in The Body?

Electrolytes play a vital role in every living cell. They are responsible for directing water and nutrients wherever the body needs them. They are also very much involved in muscle contraction and relaxation. Your nervous system actually needs electrolytes to send signals from the brain to the rest of the body!

Electrolytes are also crucial for any bouts of physical activity. So, if you like to exercise, want to maximize performance, and protect against injury ... it's very important to make sure you are getting enough electrolytes every day.

But I'm sure you're wondering ... how do they play a role in hydration? Well, they help maintain fluid balance in the body. Without enough electrolytes, your body will expel fluid. This happens because your body needs to maintain a certain concentration of these electrolytes.

How Are Electrolyte Levels Maintained?

I’ll make this simple to understand using sodium as an example.

Imagine a glass of water and salt to represent the sodium content in the blood. Let’s say that 5% of this solution is sodium and 95% is water.

For this hypothetical example, let's say this is the concentration the body wants to maintain.

If you were to pour more water in (like drinking more plain water) ... you would be diluting the sodium concentration. That's because there's still the same amount of sodium in the glass, but now there's more water to offset it.

Are You Drinking Enough Water?

There are two ways to get the sodium concentration back to 5% where the body wants:

• Add in more sodium
• Get rid of some of the water

So if your body isn't getting the electrolytes it needs ... how does the body maintain the proper levels?

This is where the kidneys come in. The kidneys decide what stays in the bloodstream and what leaves through urine. They do this by holding on to sodium, while primarily excreting water.

This is when your pee looks clear, because it's mostly water. The opposite is true when you’re dehydrated because your body is holding on to more water.

When your urine is darker, this is an indication that other compounds in your bloodstream are higher with less water. It's all about balance.

Should I Worry About My Electrolyte Intake?

Do we really need to worry about electrolyte intake if the kidneys maintain the right concentration for us?

Yes, we do. We lose electrolytes every day from sweating and urinating. On top of that, when you get sick, throw up, or have diarrhea ... you can lose quite a bit too.

Since we are constantly losing electrolytes, it's important to replace them through diet and supplementation.

See, it is so much easier to become dehydrated or develop an electrolyte imbalance than you might think. Making sure you maintain this proper water/electrolyte balance can help protect you from horrible symptoms such as:

• Irregular heartbeat
• Fast heart rate
Fatigue
• Lethargy
• Convulsions or seizures
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea or constipation
• Abdominal cramping
• Muscle cramping
• Muscle weakness
• Irritability
• Confusion
• Headaches
• Numbness and tingling

So yes, it's important to make sure you get enough electrolytes in your diet. As long as you get them, it doesn't matter whether you get them all from food, sports drinks, or supplements.

Which Foods Are High In Electrolytes?

If you’re trying to increase your electrolyte intake, you should start with what you eat. Here are some of the best electrolyte-packed foods:

What Should I Eat Before a Workout?

• Turkey
• Chicken
• Spinach
• Kale
• Avocados
• Broccoli
• Potatoes
• Beans
• Almonds
• Peanuts
• Strawberries
• Watermelon
• Oranges
• Bananas
• Tomatoes

What If I Don’t Like Those Foods?

Well, those foods are extremely beneficial for a lot more reasons than just getting electrolytes in, but I’ll save that for another day.

If you don’t like foods that are higher in electrolytes, the least you could do is salt your food. Now, keep in mind that table salt only accounts for 2 electrolytes: sodium and chloride.

You’d be missing out on calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphate. These play crucial roles in muscle contraction and relaxation, heart and kidney function, and energy production ... just to name a few things!

If you really can't get yourself to eat more electrolyte-rich foods, you could look into a sports drink. The problem with a typical sports drink is all the extra sugar that normally comes with it. That, and many sports drinks only have sodium and potassium in them. It’s a start though.

Another, better option you have is supplementing your electrolytes. If you're an active person, electrolyte supplements can be a game-changer. That's because sweat expels electrolytes!

So, when you're looking for a good electrolyte supplement, make sure you get one that gives you a full profile of electrolytes. You should be getting every electrolyte ... and enough of them.

Below is a list of the recommended daily amounts for each electrolyte. Use this to determine which electrolyte powders are good for you and your dietary needs.

Sodium - 1500 mg/day
Potassium - 4700 mg/day
Magnesium - 420 mg/day
Chloride - 2300 mg/day
Calcium - 1000 mg/day
Phosphorus (phosphate) - up to 4000 mg/day

So ... What Is The Best Electrolyte Powder?

To say that there is a "best" electrolyte powder would be misleading. Even here at 1st Phorm, we have a ton of electrolyte-based supplements. That includes everything from pre-workout drinks to intra-workout formulas, and even our popular Hydration Sticks.

So really, it all comes down to personal preference and how many electrolytes you personally need to cover through supplementation.

If you want to keep it simple, try our Hydration Sticks. 1st Phorm Hydration Sticks give you a full profile of electrolytes in a convenient, on-the-go stick pack. Best of all ... they taste amazing and can be mixed up super easily in water any time throughout the day.

If you have any questions about electrolytes, how much you should personally be taking, or achieving your fitness goals ... reach out to us! We have a full team of Certified Personal Trainers and Certified Nutrition Coaches through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM-CPT & NASM-CNC) who are happy to help.

Customer Service - 1st Phorm

References

[1] Taylor K, Jones EB. Adult Dehydration. [Updated 2022 May 15]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK555956/

Truth Fry
Truth Fry

BS Exercise Science NASM Certified Personal Trainer NSCA Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist