Drink options with natural electrolytes are hard to come by.
Most commercial sports drinks and powders sold on shelves contain sugar, artificial sweeteners, food coloring and chemical additives with a long list of side effects, from bloating to brain fog, blood sugar imbalances and headaches.
Natural Electrolytes—Paleo-Friendly Gatorade Alternatives
So what are the alternative electrolytes options? And why do you need electrolytes anyhow?!
Here’s all you need to know about why electrolytes do a body good and the best natural electrolytes options for boosting your bod.
WHAT ARE ELECTROLYTES?
Electrolytes are substances in your body that conduct electricity (for your cells) when dissolved in water.
Many automatic processes in the body (like breathing, heart beating, and muscle contraction) rely on a small electric current to function, and electrolytes provide this charge.
Common electrolytes include sodium, potassium, and calcium and magnesium.
Electrolytes allow cells to generate energy, maintain the stability of their walls, and to function in general. They generate electricity, contract muscles, move water and fluids within the body, and, ultimately, help us keep our body (cells and processes) in balance—such as signaling to your brain the feeling of thirst when you’re really hot or dehydrated.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR ELECTROLYTES GET “OUT OF BALANCE?”
Electrolytes tend to get out of balance when MORE energy is demanded from your cells, and the body does not have enough electrolytes to replenish stores or to maintain balance.
For instance: Working out in the heat for long periods of time, or sweating A LOT at once.
1. Sodium Electrolyte Imbalance
In this case, sodium (which is typically found in most abundance OUTSIDE the cells) draws more water OUTSIDE the cells to try to keep your body cool (sweat and exertion).
The result? Hypernatremia— a condition associated with dehydration and sodium imbalance.
Instead of having too much sodium, there is too little water in the body, leading to imbalances and symptoms including: Lethargy, confusion, weakness, swelling, seizures, fainting and/or coma.
Similar sodium imbalances can happen when you drink TOO much water. This is called: Hyponatremia—water intoxication (drinking too much water that it dilutes the sodium in the blood and overwhelms your kidney’s ability to filter the water out), resulting in the same symptoms.
2. Potassium Electrolyte Imbalance
Potassium imbalance does similar things to your body.
Also, potassium is an electrolyte found in most abundance INSIDE your cells.
However, if things like dehydration or over-exertion occur, then as your lose more water and sodium fills your cells, potassium is pushed OUTSIDE of your cells, leading to either:
- Hyperkalemia — a potentially life-threatening situation that causes abnormal electrical conduction in the heart and heart rhythm problems, as high potassium levels accumulate in the body and cannot be excreted in the urine.
- Hypokalemia — when the body loses too much potassium from causes like vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, medications like diuretics or laxatives, and low magnesium levels.
THE BOTTOM LINE
In general, electrolytes help keep your body in balance! Without the right yin-yang balance between sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium, your cells are unable to function optimally, leading to physical stress, if not replenished or supported.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT?!
Stay hydrated and boost your cells (and body) with electrolytes during tough workouts, long workouts and Austin summertime heat.
Unfortunately, the majority of electrolyte sports drinks and powders sold on shelves are not the healthiest for your body overall. They have side effects like gas and bloating, nausea, heart palpitations, poor concentration, blood sugar imbalances, headaches and brain fog. However, there are a few gems you can easily make part of your routine.
BEST NATURAL ELECTROLYTES
Move over Gatorade and Propel! Try one of these natural alternatives instead:
- Sea Salt. Add a pinch or two of sea salt to your water. Do this for activities in warm/hot weather that last 60-minutes or less.
- Coconut Water. A natural dose of potassium. Just make sure you look for no-sugar added.
- Ultima Natural Electrolyte Powder. (Available at Central Market)
- Natural Force Recovery Nectar.
- Natural CALM. Magnesium powder to add to water.
- Pure Encapsulations Electrolyte/Energy Formula
Lastly, bottoms up and drink up.