I have long understood the importance of replenishing my body with electrolytes; however not everyone realizes how important it really is. There are many people out there educating on nutrition and sometimes it can be really confusing and other times scary. I recently heard a licensed dietitian say “Don’t consume a sports drink unless you are working out for more than an hour. It will just give you added calories your body doesn’t need…” As an educated fitness nutrition enthusiast this kinda freaked me out that a large group of “educate me” people were hearing this. This has some truth to it and it has some serious UN-truth to it.
One very important thing to understand is that the body doesn’t really know how to count calories. It actually spends its time counting the type of nutrition you are putting in it. It will respond to what you put in it and it will perform with what you put it in. SO… if you want more optimal performance start making certain you are putting healthy in your body and stop worrying about this whole antiquated “calorie” counting thing. If you are working out to lose weight you are not going to put weight on if you drink the “right” electrolyte sports drink.
The truth part: Most electrolyte sports drinks on the market are full of artificial and funky junky ingredients. Yes, if you consume a product with sucralose aka splenda it has shown to be a contributing factor for weight gain – they harp on how low sugar or no sugar is better than sugar and that is not true. High fructose corn syrup is another artificial ingredient that the body doesn’t recognize so it has also been shown to put added weight on you. Don’t let those “no sugar” or “diet drink” labels fool you!
The un-truth part: Sugar is bad for you and no amount is good. Don’t think no and low sugar diets are the way to go. It is the TYPE of sugar that is important. The body actually requires some sugar to transport nutrients throughout the body and into the brain. The real issue is that people are consuming way too much sugar overall. Sugar is healthy just don’t overdo it.
ELECTROLYTES! Why are they important and what will happen if you don’t replenish while working out? When you sweat you are losing more than just water. You are losing sodium and potassium and they need to be replenished. Depending on the severity of the electrolyte depletion your symptoms will be different some are listed in the picture above. Most importantly, look for clean and healthy electrolyte sports drinks. Replenish responsibly and you will not only feel great, you will recover quicker and your performance will improve.