By: Angela Joy
As summer sets in, many are preparing to take their exercise routines outdoors. However, before you head outside for your next run, bike ride or even basketball game, make sure you are properly hydrated.
The heat of the outdoor sun combined with the movement of our body causes our skin to perspire water and minerals. We sweat out water and minerals to cool the body down, preventing heat exhaustion.
To properly restore the water and minerals lost through our skin, you can follow these helpful tips that will include; the adequate amount of water to drink; the electrolytes needed for proper body functioning; as well as natural, organic electrolyte sources.
What are electrolytes?
The minerals we lose through sweat commonly known as electrolytes.
According to the online healthcare publishing company Medical News Today [MNT], electrolytes are defined as any substance that contains free ions that behave as an electrically conductive medium.
Electrolytes are made up of minerals including sodium, potassium, calcium, bicarbonate, magnesium, chloride, hydrogen phosphate and hydrogen carbonate.
According to the Medical News Today article titled, “What are electrolytes,” humans cannot function without proper electrolyte levels.
“Electrolytes regulate our nerve and muscle function, our body’s hydration, blood pH, blood pressure and the rebuilding of damaged tissue,” Medical News Today stated in the 2014 article.
Not properly restoring electrolyte levels in the body during or after exercise can lead to dehydration, fatigue, muscle cramping and more.
In an effort to prevent dehydration amongst athletes and exercise enthusiasts, the American College of Sports Medicine [ACSM] created proper hydration standards.
The ACSM suggests that those exercising outdoors, or for long periods of time, replenish the amount of fluid lost, as well as the electrolytes lost, during exercise.
According to ACSM, the amount of fluids and electrolytes each person should consume will depend upon the individual, the amount of sweat perspired, and the length or exertion level of their exercise.
Photo taken from girlsgotsole.com
Tips for avoiding dehydration
To avoid dehydration, the ACSM suggests that those participating in exercise drink 16 to 20 fluid ounces of water, or a sports beverage, at least four hours before exercise with and additional 8 to 12 fluid ounces of water consumed 10 to 15 minutes before exercise.
During exercise, the ACSM suggests that exercisers drink three to eight fluid ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes when exercising less than 60 minutes.
Photo taken from getactivetampa.com
If exercise is longer than 60 minutes, the ACSM suggests that those partaking in exercise consume three to eight fluid ounces of a sport beverage, made up of carbohydrates and electrolytes, every 15 to 20 minutes.
The ACSM warns that those exercising do not drink more than one quart of liquids per hour, to avoid over-hydrating.
Once exercise is completed, the ACSM suggests that those partaking in exercise estimate their fluid losses, then restore the full amount lost within two hours of exercise.
According to the ACSM, if you were to feel very thin after a bout of exercise, this is the result of fluid loss and not weight loss — therefore the steps to properly restore the body’s fluids should be taken as soon as possible.
Tips for properly restoring electrolytes
Proper hydrating fluids generally include a carbohydrate [glucose] that also offers electrolyte minerals.
The ACSM stated that a liquid that includes a carbohydrate, or sugar, will replenish the lost glycogen in the muscles — preventing cramps and assisting with muscle recovery.
The ACSM suggests that during exercise the beverage consumed should contain carbohydrates, sodium and potassium.
Natural electrolyte options
Proper hydration restoration can be found in some standard sports drinks, however, in an effort to avoid white granulated sugar and unknown ingredients I chose whole, organic foods and drinks.
As I prepare for a long run, I pack my water bottle with diluted organic coconut water [two parts water, one part coconut water].
Other electrolyte-filled natural options include lemon water with honey and a touch of salt, orange-infused water or electrolyte-filled snacks.
My favorite go-to electrolyte-packed foods to eat during a run include: bananas, raisins and oranges.
Photo courtesy of Angela Joy
Each of these foods contain electrolytes and carbohydrate to allow your body to properly restore the lost water and minerals levels – while also providing needed energy to sustain you.
Most fruits and vegetables contain electrolytes and are filled with water, allowing most raw fruit and vegetables to also serve as a great electrolyte-packed choice.
Photo taken from enjoyagreatlife.com
Aside from natural foods, there are also many items available to purchase that offer electrolytes. Options include salt tablets, electrolyte-filled chews and gu, as well as electrolyte tablets and powders.
Photo taken from shopmyvega.com
(If I were to purchase a electrolyte item instead of eating it through food, I would purchase it from the Vega company)
I personally favor natural foods during my runs. However, if a supplement or tablet is more appealing to you, give it a try!
Since incorporating coconut water into my workout routines I have felt much more energy, I have been able to recover more quickly and I have completely avoided brain fog towards the end of my runs.
Photo taken from makecoffee.com
I inspire you to be stronger than your excuses – start exercising for at least a few minutes each day, gradually increase your rate each week, and never give up on yourself.
“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up,” Ultramarathon champion Dean Karrnazes said.
Remember, hydration is incredibly important — even if you are not an exercise enthusiast. We all should be conscious of our water consumption and never wait till we are thirsty to start drinking water.
Coconut Water Tip: When choosing the type of coconut water that you are going to consume, follow the Food Babe’s advice on the healthiest, purest options –>http://bit.ly/1l3r61i
Originally published in Night & Day Magazine