Create a Balance Between Water & Electrolyte Levels to Avoid Dehydration

With it being summer in Chicago, it’s hard not to want to spend every waking moment outside.  The beaches are full of Chicagoans trying to soak up as much vitamin D as possible, many spending hours in the sand playing volleyball, as well as many just lounging in the parks.  Regardless of the time of day, the bike paths are always full of riders, runners, and walkers.  While this weather may be giving you that extra incentive to get outside and get active, just make sure you are staying properly hydrated as dehydration is very likely to occur when the weather gets this hot.

dehydration: the loss of fluid from the body

In this case, the concentration of the body’s electrolytes are extremely affected resulting in major fluid imbalances.  Sodium & potassium are the electrolytes in our bodies that are most commonly talked about.  When we exercise, we sweat, resulting in a loss of sodium & potassium.  A muscle contraction needs calcium, sodium & potassium to be present.  If these levels are low as a result of dehydration, muscle contractions will be weakened. In order to maintain normal electrolyte balance, these electrolytes need to be replenished.  Fresh fruits & veggies are typically great sources of electrolytes as well as electrolyte-enhanced sports drinks.

Good sources of potassium include

  • bananas
  • apricots
  • grapes
  • cantaloupe
  • berries
  • avocado

Good sources of sodium include

  • bell peppers
  • celery
  • sweet potatoes
  • pineapple
  • cantaloupe

If you are dehydrated or have some type of fluid/electrolyte imbalance & are aware of your body you may feel some or all of the following symptoms…

  • dry mouth, lips
  • dizziness, fatigue
  • increased core body temperature
  • increased heart rate
  • decreased urine output
  • darkened urine

Drinking water is very important, but it’s also very important to realize that too much water with too few electrolytes can also impair body function & performance.

When choosing food/drinks to aid in replenishing electrolytes, be smart.  By this, I mean don’t rush to the store & buy as much gatorade as you can possibly stock up on.  For most people, I would suggest replenishing the body with more fresh fruits & vegetables (some of the ones mentioned above would be a great start) and lower calorie electrolyte enhanced drinks.

For example, gatorade is high in calories, as well as sugar… if weight loss is your goal & you are watching calories, I would suggest you opt for a calorie free electrolyte enhancer such as Nuun. These are light flavored tablets that you can toss in your water, let dissolve & drink.  What I love most about them is that they contain no sugars or carbs & taste amazing.

In addition, if you can tolerate the taste (I’ll be honest, I can’t), coconut water would also work as a great substitute to your higher calorie higher sugar content electrolyte drink.  Coconut water has a high potassium & mineral content, as well as no fat & low amounts of carbohydrates & calories.

There are tons of ways to replenish your electrolytes & create a better fluid balance in your body…eating fresh fruits, veggies & consuming electrolyte enhanced drinks are just a few examples. 

Now get outside, get active, but be sure to stay hydrated! : )