8 foods and drinks to help replenish electrolytes

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Fruits, dairy, and poultry are a great source of electrolytes like potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium.

Electrolytes help you stay hydrated, along with many other important functions that keep you alive and kicking.

If you’re looking to replenish your electrolytes, there are plenty of delicious options from coconut water to parmesan cheese.

What are electrolytes?

Electrolytes are critical for regulating the amount of water in your body, which helps everything from nerve responses to muscle contractions, says Kelly Jones MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, a nutritionist at Kelly Jones Nutrition.

But it’s easy to become electrolyte deficient if you’ve just finished an intense workout, or are sick and have symptoms that include vomiting and diarrhoea.

If your electrolyte imbalance is severe, it can lead to muscle cramps and twitches, weakness, heart arrhythmia, paralysis, and in extreme cases,death via cardiac arrest.

While there are quite a few electrolytes, sodium and potassium are two of the most prominent. “They play the largest role in regulating the balance of fluid inside and outside of our cells,” says Jones. This helps our bodies stay hydrated.

Other electrolytes include:

  • Chloride
  • Phosphorus
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium

When a person works or sweats heavily, they lose a lot of sodium, says Jones. The same is true for anyone feeling sick, whether they are losing mucus or vomiting. These symptoms can make the body lose electrolytes, so replacing them is critical.

How to get electrolytes

There are plenty of ways to get the electrolytes your body needs through diet alone. Here are some foods and drinks that can help you replenish your electrolyte stores.

1. Drink unsweetened coconut water

One cup of coconut water has about 350 mg of potassium or roughly 13% of your daily value (DV). Fortunately, coconut water is a popular alternative for bottled water and is available at most grocery and convenience stores.

2. Eat bananas

Bananas are an incredible source of electrolytes thanks to their high levels of potassium. A typical banana has 422 mg (16% DV) of potassium. Add a boost of protein by putting some peanut butter on your banana, or introduce some fibre by throwing it in your oatmeal.

3. Consume dairy products

Dairy products are a great source of both calcium and sodium. In 100 mL of milk, there are about 199 mg (20% DV) of calcium and 281 mg (10% DV) of potassium.

And cheese brings even more to the table. In one ounce of parmesan cheese, there is about 336 mg (33% DV) of calcium and 26.1 mg (2% DV) of sodium.

While calcium is generally associated with dairy products, collard greens, beans, soy products, almonds, tahini, and bok choy are also excellent sources of the mineral, says Jones.

To get sodium and calcium add a slice of cheese on a piece of almond flour bread.

4. Cook white meat and poultry

People can get electrolytes by eating white meat and poultry. In 100g of white turkey meat, there is 349 mg (12% DV) of potassium and 1200 mg (52% DV) of sodium. Other sources of zinc include shellfish, beans and lentils, and hemp seeds, says Jones.

5. Eat avocado

Avocados are more than trendy, as this fruit is an incredible source of potassium. In one standard avocado, there is 660 mg (22% DV) of potassium.

Try avocados on top of toast with a sprinkle of cheese for an electrolyte-rich snack or breakfast.

6. Drink fruit juice

While juices such as orange, lemonade, and banana all provide electrolytes, there’s one which stands out: pomegranate juice. This fruit juice is a fantastic source of electrolytes as one cup contains 533 mg (18% DV) of potassium.

Have a glass with your breakfast or as a mid-afternoon pick me up. If you’re upping your intake to get electrolytes, stick to a cup 100% fruit juice to avoid options high in added sugar.

7. Snack on watermelon

There’s no reason watermelons need to be limited to the summer. Snack on watermelons year-round for a boost in electrolytes. A medium-sized wedge of watermelon contains 320 mg (11% DV) of potassium. As the name suggests, watermelon is also incredibly hydrating as it is 92% water, making it a great snack post-workout.

8. Try electrolyte infused waters

The amount of electrolytes in infused waters varies by brand. These waters are available at most grocery and sports stores. Common brands include Gatorade and Powerade. Some electrolyte infused waters may contain a high amount of sugars, so be aware of the nutrition label when choosing one. Most people do not need an electrolyte drink unless they completed an intense hour-long workout.

How many electrolytes do I need?

The amount of electrolytes you need per day varies on your age, gender, and what type of physical activities you are doing. Here are the recommended daily allowances of five of the most common electrolytes for adults:

Type of Electrolyte

Females (19-50 years)

Males (19-50 years)

Calcium

1,000 mg

1,000 mg

Sodium

Less than 2,300 mg

Less than 2,300 mg

Potassium

2,600 mg

3,400 mg

Magnesium

310 – 320 mg

400 – 420 mg

Takeaways

Electrolytes are crucial for the body’s nerve responses, muscle contractions, water balance, and more. Common electrolytes include sodium, potassium, calcium, and chloride. You can consume electrolytes through coconut water, watermelon, and dairy products. It’s especially important to watch your electrolyte intake if you are sick or just completed a workout.

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