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Sugar versus Electrolytes: Don’t get duped


I've ranted before, but here I go again, in a different context this time: Electrolytes!

The worst thing Gatorade has done is get people obsessed with hydration (That, and the whole pumping their products with sugar thing). Go to the start line of any endurance event and youll find slow, yet fearful runners sucking on their water bottles obsessively, force-drinking in an effort to allegedly pre-hydrate,as the bathroom line circles around the block.

Meanwhile in the gym, athletes think they need to drink during a 7-minute workout. Nobody has ever died of a dry mouth:  You can do a 20-minute workout without water, folks!

I blame Gatorade.

On the flip side, if Gatorade has done one thing well, its that the brand has contributed to educating the layman about electrolytes. And even though I think most of the time people use thirst as a reason to rest and slack off during a workout, electrolytes do matter for your health.

Electrolytes 101

In short, electrolytes like sodium and potassium, are important for regulating muscle and nerve function, as well as for hydration, blood pressure and keeping your bodys pH levels in check. If you become deficient in electrolytes, be it sodium, potassium, or others, such as magnesium or calcium, a host of problems can resultfrom fatigue and muscle cramping to irregular heartbeats and even to seizures.

This matters to everyone because we lose electrolytes when we sweat. And the longer we workout, the more we sweat, the more we lose, and the more we need to ensure our electrolytes are properly restored in our bodies. The is why Gatorade has been particularly good at marketing to endurance athletes: Theyre the most susceptible to electrolyte loss.

On the other  hand, you have probably also heard the word on street in recent months: Sugar is the devil. And if you look at whats in Gatorade, youll discover sugar, sugar and more sugar, to the point that the artificial flavours and sugar youre pumping into your body is probably worse than any of the benefits youre getting from the electrolytes in Gatorade. Same goes for Powerade, G2, and most likely all other sports drinks that taste kind of delicious.

If youre embarking in a marathon, triathlon, adventure race, or any other endurance event this summer, there are better options out there. Here are a few:

Coconut Water

Make sure theres no added sugar, or any other added ingredients, for that matter. Pure coconut water is best. Youll still get some natural sugar, as well as that all-important sodium and potassium.

Or better yet, buy yourself a couple young coconuts, pierce them with a hammer and  nail and poor the delicious juice into a glass: Natures best electrolyte replacement! Andy was crazy into young coconuts in a while: Ask him his secrets about opening them up...

Sea Salt

When you sweat, you lose a ton of sodium, and salt is a fast way to replace it. It also contains calcium and potassium, Sprinkle some Himalayan or Celtic sea salts into your water bottle, and add some lemon so it tastes a bit better.

Lemon (or Lime) Water

Speaking of lemons, theyre also a great source of potassium, calcium and magnesium. They also help balance your pH levels, as well as boost your immune system, so all in all, drinking lemon waterwhether youre working out or notis a pretty good life choice.

Natural Hydration Tabs

Not all store-bought electrolyte products are pumped with sugar. There do exist some better-quality hydration tablets, such as Nunn products. If youre not into flavouring your water with lemon, or drinking coconut water, sugar-free hydration tabs, which are often flavourless, might a better option for you. Lots of decent brands out there: Just make sure you read the labels.

Leafy greens

From kale to swiss chard to bok choy to spinach, leafy greens have tons of electrolytes. If youre going to a long run, it might be worth making a leafy green smoothie to drink right after, or even during the run if youre a marathoner.

Or you could just avoid endurance sports and get to the gym and lift some weights with us

 

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