Hydration is also key to maintaining a healthy body composition, which is why it is important to sip water throughout the day. Not only is hydration important, but it is also important to focus on supplying the body with enough electrolytes.
What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are essential for our cells and organs to function properly. They balance the amount of water in our bodies and control our pH levels. Some examples of electrolytes include:
According to Rush University, these electrically-charged minerals help regulate everything in the body from hydration to muscle function to the nervous system. This includes the most important muscle of all – the heart. “Electrolytes enable the electrical impulses to be generated normally within the heart, so your heart can contract and relax at a normal rate,” notes Rush.
In order to make sure we are receiving an adequate amount of daily electrolytes, many of us may opt for sports drinks or supplements. But did you also know you can get your electrolytes through food?
What foods have electrolytes?
In order to receive an adequate amount of electrolytes each day, skip the store-bought sports drinks and supplements and focus on eating real delicious whole foods instead. Here are some foods that are naturally high in electrolytes.
Calcium may be good for our bones, but did you know calcium is also an electrolyte? Some great go-to calcium-based foods include:
- Certain fruits and vegetables like asparagus, collard greens, dried apricots, and figs
- Fish with bones (Think of things like sardines)
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Milk and milk products like yogurt
Foods containing chloride
Chloride is another electrolyte and one you may not be as familiar with, but do not worry, some foods you may already eat and enjoy every day contain chloride. Some foods that have electrolytes, specifically chloride, include celery, lettuce, olives, rye, tomatoes, and seaweed. Seaweed salad anyone?
David Brendan, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist RDN and ISSA/IFPA Certified Personal Trainer, shares table salt contains sodium chloride. So if you are in a pinch and need some electrolytes, add a pinch of table salt to your recipes. Like with most things in life, enjoy in moderation.
Foods with magnesium
Magnesium is mostly known for its relaxation properties, but it’s also an electrolyte. Leafy greens like collard greens, spinach, and turnip greens are all great choices. You can also opt for dried beans, lentils, nuts, peanut butter, and whole grains. Some other ideas for foods containing magnesium include avocados, legumes, and seeds, shares Brendan.
Foods containing potassium
Replenishing electrolytes is incredibly important after exercise as you lose them during perspiration. According to Brendan, calcium, potassium, and magnesium are most frequently lost during workouts. This is a reason why tossing a banana in your gym bag is a super simple way to stock up on electrolytes post-sweat sesh. (Bananas are naturally high in potassium).
If you are not bonkers for bananas, opt for other foods with potassium. These include avocados, beans, cooked spinach, melons, oranges, peas, plain nonfat yogurt, prunes, raisins, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.
Brendan also recommends brassica vegetables like Brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage as well as leafy foods, legumes, and stone fruits like apricots and dates. Other foods that have electrolytes include coconut water and watermelon.
Finally, Brendan notes if you are sweating profusely from exercise, focus on table salt. “You can just add a pinch of salt to every liter of water if you are exercising more than an hour or two at a time. Otherwise, just [drink] normal water, and you will get the rest from food.”
Remember, you’re *probably* getting enough electrolytes already
If you’re worried about eating enough electrolytes every day, don’t worry. Brendan says, “In general, eating a variety of foods throughout each week will ensure you have any electrolytes you need.”
If you are considering purchasing an overpriced sports drink, opt for lemonade with a pinch of salt and a cup of yogurt with sliced bananas instead, advises Brendan. It’s way less expensive and way more delicious!