Do We Really Need Sports Drinks When Working Out?
What are electrolytes?
Medical News Today define electrolyte as a substance that conducts electricity when dissolved in water. Electrolytes are important for a number of bodily functions and for all humans to survive. Medical News Today adds that many automatic processes in the body rely on a small electric current to function, and electrolytes provide this charge. Electrolytes interact with each other and the cells in the tissues, nerves, and muscles. A balance of different electrolytes is vital for healthy function.
Kelly Pritchett, PhD, RD, CSSD, assistant professor in nutrition and exercise science at Central Washington University says electrolytes are particles that help the body maintain its fluid balance, by “keeping fluids in the correct compartments.” (Read: Electrolytes help to keep fluid inside of our blood vessels.)
“Sodium is found in table salt, chips, pretzels, soup, canned and packaged foods, sports drinks, and nuts,” Dr. Pritchett says.
“Potassium is found primarily in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, milk, strawberries, bananas, avocados, coconut water, and sports drinks,” she adds.
“Most Americans consume enough sodium, so this is typically not an issue,” Dr. Pritchett says.
If you aren’t ill, “the only times when you’d need to worry are when you’re doing strenuous exercise, working out in the heat, or exercising for a prolonged period of time,” she explains.
Are you getting enough electrolytes?
“Typically when someone has prolonged diarrhea or vomiting we become more concerned about electrolyte imbalances,” Dr. Pritchett says.