Staying Hydrated: Electrolytes 101

by in Fitness, July 19, 2012

orange juice
There’s more to beating the heat than just drinking water. Electrolytes are important nutrients that help maintain your body’s fluid balance.

Electrolyte Basics
Electrolytes are substances that conduct an electric current. In the body, they help to facilitate actions of the nervous system, maintain proper fluid and acid-base balance, and allow muscles to contract.

Many important minerals also act as electrolytes – some of the major players for healthy muscles are sodium, chloride, potassium and calcium.

Where to Find Electrolytes
You can find electrolytes in a wide variety of foods and beverages. If these foods are regular fixtures in your diet, you can rest assured you’re getting enough.

Sports Drinks
A good choice after a sweaty workout, sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade have fluid and carbs along with sodium and potassium.

Orange Juice
One cup of OJ has 12 percent of the daily recommendation for potassium. You’ll also get vitamin C — it isn’t an electrolyte but it does help keep muscles healthy.

Coconut Water
It’s the new trend in sports drinks (but isn’t actually a sports drink). If you’re a fan of the taste coconut water, it comes jam-packed with potassium. It also contains a small amount of sodium.

Read our full write up about coconut water

Fruits & Veggies
Potatoes, raisins, bananas, spinach and sweet potatoes are just a few potassium-rich fruits and veggies. Get calcium from leafy greens like kale, Swiss chard and arugula.

Salty (Healthy) Foods
Canned tuna, canned salmon, soup, beans, pickles, olives and whole-grain bread are higher-sodium foods that are actually good for you. Since most of these foods are seasoned with table salt (a.k.a. sodium-chloride) you’ll find both electrolytes.

Milk, cheese and yogurt are packed with bone-building calcium. Folks that have trouble digesting dairy or who follow a vegan diet can get plenty of calcium from a combination of leafy green veggies and calcium fortified foods like juices, tofu, soy milk and cereals.

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Comments (1,165)

  1. j3nn says:

    I love chocolate coconut water! It's rich in potassium, even more so than a banana or OJ!

  2. ygolitely says:

    This is not about cocvonut milk but about I couldn't find out how to contact them directly. The site takes so much time to read compared to other sites I read. Please make it more easily readable. You should be able to read one whole days recipes as a chapter in a book. When I click on a recipe to read, the whole site folds up and you have to start all over. Really irritating and time consuming.

  3. Nicole says:

    I can't believe that this blog is promoting Gatorade and Powerade, considering they pack more sugar into a bottle than is recommended for daily consumption. (Note, I said bottle and not serving, but who just sticks to a serving?) How about making your own electrolyte drink with coconut water (from a real coconut), lemon juice, salt, and water? At the very least, drink coconut water without sugar and preservatives.

    • Dana White says:

      Hi Nicole – My intention is not to promote any specific product but as a sports dietitian I believe that there is a time and place for sports drinks. The sugar in them provides easily digestible carbohydrates that active individuals can use for energy. Here is another recent article that breaks down the pros and cons. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Fae says:

    Where is the reciepe?

  5. Vicki says:

    Do you have other tips for increasing serum sodium levels. My counts are rarely in the normal rang e and often run 130-133. They have me limit fluid intake. Other electrolytes etc. supplements are available but not sodium. I hope you can give me some insights.

  6. I didn't know that coconut water was high in potassium. I hate pretty much every food that is rich in potassium and my doc has my taking potassium supplements. I'm going to have to try the coconut water!

  7. im_pinoy says:

    Can you provide some other energy drinks other than Gatorade? ..

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  10. The Birch of the Shadow…

    I think there may perhaps be considered a couple duplicates, but an exceedingly helpful checklist! I have tweeted this. Lots of thanks for sharing!…

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