How to rehydrate optimally and replenish electrolytes.

Now that we are moving into warmer months (hearts in eyes face) it is important that we are drinking plenty of water. Water requirements increase even more for athletes and those who sweat like beasts when we train. 

Yes drinking enough water is essential to replenish water lost, but pure water may simply not be enough to replenish the essential minerals we lose through our sweat. These essential minerals are called electrolytes.

What are electrolytes? 

Electrolyte Minerals Broken Down By Roles

Sodium - balances water concentration within cells, maintains blood pressure
Potassium - essential for muscle and nerve contraction, kidney and heart health
Magnesium - needed for energy production and muscular relaxation, reduces muscular fatigue
Chloride - works with sodium to bring water into cells, supports healthy ph levels
Calcium - improves magnesium absorption, maintains blood pressure and nerve transmission

So how should we replenish these electrolytes?

Most of us might think of Gatorade and Powerade which are marketed to athletes, and stocked at every convenience store, and sports event.

Unfortunately these drinks are also crazy packed with refined sugar, much more than necessary. They contain chemical flavours and colours that do not benefit human health and can be harmful long term!
 
Coconut water is a great natural option much superior to the bright red and blue sugar bombs - coconut water packs a serious dose of potassium, however the potassium to sodium ratio is a little low,  and it also lacks some of the other essential minerals - magnesium, chloride and calcium. Adding a small pinch of himalayan salt to Coconut Water can make up for the rest of these minerals, including enough sodium to balance the sodium - potassium balance

Himalayan sea salt provides a range of these minerals, There are other great sea salt varieties but the pink salt is popular and easy to find. 

DO NOT USE IODIZED TABLE SALT

The quality of salt used is important, as these minerals are essential. Iodized salt or table salt is artificially manufactured, is void of these minerals and does not provide any health benefits. 
Unfortunately, it is common for those who begin the transition into a whole foods based diet, to avoid salt in their cooking. Salt not only enhances flavour in cooking but is needed to provides these essential minerals beneficial to human health! When we eat predominantly whole foods, we eliminate processed foods which is great but we might actually not be getting enough sodium. So don't avoid salting your food with a good quality natural sea salt, unless your food is highly processed and packed with sodium!

You might notice from the break down of electrolyte minerals provided above that some minerals support other minerals to be absorbed! Minerals compete with each other for absorption, they need to be in the right ratio of each other to be utilized and taken up into our cells. In whole unrefined foods minerals are always found in optimal balance for absorption. This is not the case with processed foods which is another reason why relying heavily on processed foods/beverages including gatorade can cause mineral defficiencies and other issues. 

Back to Electrolyte Drinks -

Here are a few very easy recipes to make your own sports drink! These options are cheaper and better than anything on the shelf.

RECIPES

CITRUS HYDRATOR
combine the following:
juice of half a lemon, lime, grapefruit or orange (choose one or make a blend)
2 cups of fresh clean water
1/2 tbsp local raw honey (unpasteurized)
a pinch of himalayan pink sea salt or another high quality - unionized sea salt
serve chilled or over ice for best taste

COCONUT LIME HYDRATOR
combing the following:
1 cup coconut water (brands without added sugars or flavours - King Island, Blue Monkey...)
the juice of half one lime or lemon
a pinch of himalayan pink salt or another good quality non iodized salt
serve chilled or over ice for best taste

LAVENDAR LEMONADE
combine the following:
juice of half a lemon
2 cups of fresh clean water
1/2 tbsp local unpasteurized LAVANDER honey (can use any flavoured or unflavoured raw honey)
a pinch of himalyan pink sea salt or another good quaility uniodized sea salt
serve chilled or over ice for best taste

STRAWBERRY or RASPBERRY LEMONADE
combine the following:
juice of half a lemon
a small handful of fresh ripe strawberries or raspberries
2 cups of fresh clean water
1/2 tbsp local raw honey
a pinch of himalyan pink sea salt or another good quaility uniodized sea salt
blend everything, then strain out the seeds and pulp from the liquid
serve chilled or over ice for best taste

Alternatively you could make the same drink with chilled berry tea instead of fresh berries. 

You'll see Ive added a bit of raw honey to these recipes - which provides a small amount of glucose to help the absorption of water and replenished muscle glycogen with a bit of quick energy. 

Coconut water on its own contains some natural sugar, so the options with coconut water do not include any added raw honey.

By adding some fresh citrus fruit or berries, we get some vitamin C - a powerful antioxidant to support immunity and repair damage caused by the stresses that come with training! Citrus fruits also give a great flavour naturally!

What if I don't want to make anything myself? 

If you prefer something already made the best options out there may be:

Coconut Water - choose coconut waters without added sweeteners or flavours, ingredients should list pure coconut water and nothing else. 
eg. Brands: King Island, Thirsty Buddha

Maple Water is another great option - it is the sap from maple trees, has a similar light refreshing taste like coconut water but is locally sourced with a maple taste profile. This maple sap contains potassium, magnesium and calcium - but is again a bit low in the sodium department, so a pinch of sea salt can also be added when available! 

Himalayan Hydration actually formulated by one of my friends Naturopathic Doctor Alex Chan and her partner Thomas - see link for the details on this drink and retailers to purchase!    https://himalayanhydration.com/

When should I drink something like this?

During and After a workout is generally ideal.
However, if you are feeling dehydrated before your workout and you know you'll be sweating a lot, it may actually be best to start drinking something like this even BEFORE your workout, to avoid depletion of electrolytes and water. As you can see by the roles they play you'll need them to get full use of what your body can do during any physical activity! 

When you are sick, an electrolyte replenishing beverage is also highly recommended, as we loose tons of fluids and minerals when diahrea is experienced, or congestion from colds and flues. 

I hope you have learned a little from this post and can enjoy my tips and recipe suggestions! Happy training and rehydrating to all!

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 coconut water, lime, sea salt in Zehuatanejo...                             V - refreshing! 

coconut water, lime, sea salt in Zehuatanejo...                             V - refreshing!