Sports drinks are a popular option for those who work out and play sports, but what is their purpose? Well, they're set to replenish the body of what it has lost during exercise (such as fluids and minerals.) Sports drinks also contain electrolytes — substances containing ions that the body needs in order to have good blood chemistry and muscle action. But, since sports drinks contain sugar and calories, they might not be ideal for those looking to lose weight. What can you rely on instead? Water with electrolytes.
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Read more: How Can I Tell When My Body Is Hydrated?
What Are Electrolytes?
Electrolytes are electrically-charged substances found in your urine, blood and other bodily fluids. They work to keep a healthy balance within the body, and come in different forms such as chlorine, potassium, phosphate, magnesium, calcium and sodium. Maintaining your electrolytes balanced within your body allows it to maintain proper water amounts, balance blood acidity, employ proper muscle action and allow other important processes to occur. Electrolytes escape the body via sweat, so in order to replenish them, you must consume foods and drinks that contain them.
Read more: The Importance of Hydration
Why Should You Put Electrolytes in Your Water?
The best fluid for hydrating and regulating the body's temperatures is right in front of you: water. When you consume water with electrolytes during exercise, the body is replenished more quickly. Your body needs to have a certain amount of water and electrolytes daily, and sweating a lot increases the amount needed of each.
According to the book "Fluids & Electrolytes Made Incredibly Easy," one of the benefits of electrolytes is the prevention of dehydration. By consuming water with electrolytes, those who exercise should be able to avoid an electrolyte imbalance within their bodies. The side effects of electrolyte imbalance (when electrolytes are too high or low, which changes the amount of water in the body), include fatigue, nausea, kidney problems and a slew of other unpleasant body retaliations.
By consuming electrolytes in your water, you also affect your body's pH levels. According to Medline Plus, the body works at its best when the blood pH level is 7.4. Why is this important? The pH is a measure of acidity (or alkalinity) in your blood. In order to maintain the proper pH level, sodium and chloride electrolytes are needed. These can be achieved through a healthy diet, filled with alkaline foods such as fruits and vegetables. What numbers should you be looking for? Levels 7.0 and higher are considered healthy and alkaline.