If the advertising spiel that accompanies electrolytes drinks is to be believed, one sip of these supercharged elixirs will turn you into a borderline superhero worthy of your own Marvel franchise. From being able to maximize your performance in sports to keeping you healthy in general, one thing is for sure… electrolytes have a lot of hype to live up to.
Here, we’re going to take a look at electrolytes, what they actually do for you, and separate some of the facts from the myths when it comes to electrolyte water — so let’s kick off.
What Are Electrolytes?
Electrolytes are minerals that are essential when it comes to maintaining a number of important biological processes in the body, the big three players being sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
Serving a number of functions, they regulate everything from muscle control and hydration to controlling your nervous system and pH levels (the balance of acidity and alkalinity in your body).
With our bodies most commonly losing electrolytes through sweat and urine, symptoms of electrolyte depletion can range from nausea, fatigue, and headaches to muscle cramps and blood pressure problems. So, it’s certainly safe to say they’re important players in our biology.
With intense sweating being one of the most common ways to lose electrolytes, it’s perhaps understandable that electrolyte drinks are sold on a sports replenishment basis. However, many of these sports drinks have far too much sugar and far too few electrolytes to make them a viable option — they may taste great, but so does a chocolate donut.
When it comes to replenishing your electrolyte levels, there are far better alternatives.
How to Get Electrolytes
Needless to say, the best way to get these wonder minerals into your body is by simply eating a nutritious diet.
Foods like spinach, kale, avocados, and broccoli are especially rich in electrolytes — and if spinach and broccoli were as popular as cheeseburgers and fries, we wouldn’t have a problem. Unfortunately, as is the way with most things in life that are healthy for you, people just aren’t that crazy about them in general.
However, with broccoli off the menu and your expensive sports drink full of too much sugar, there is an alternative: water. Or more precisely, electrolyte water.
The Water Solution
Electrolyte water, as the name might suggest, is H20 that’s been enriched with essential minerals. Although regular water — be it from the tap or bottle — contains electrolytes, it tends to contain only trace amounts.
With one liter of regular tap water containing approximately 2-3% of your recommended daily amount of sodium and magnesium, it’s clear you’re going to need to drink a huge quantity of it to top up your sodium and magnesium levels — and that’s before we even get onto potassium, which tap water contains even lower quantities of.
When it comes to bottled water, the situation is much the same, unless it’s distilled bottled water, which contains next to no minerals at all.
Electrolyte water on the other hand is specially enriched with all the necessary minerals to give you a healthy electrolyte boost when you need it without having to drink half a bathtub full of the stuff. With zero sugar content and low cost, electrolyte water seems like the obvious answer. So…
Is It Really as Good as it Sounds?
Well, that depends on a number of things. When it comes to exercise and sports, it’s fair to say that unless you’re engaged in a prolonged period of strenuous activity, you’ll probably be just fine drinking regular water.
However, if you’re involved in any kind of intense exercise for more than one hour, the benefits of electrolyte water start making a real difference — certainly, if the temperatures are high.
Evidence suggests that if your body loses as little as 1-2% of its body weight in water, this amount of sweat can significantly impact your performance, not to mention increase the risk of heat stroke. Under these circumstances, electrolyte water makes a great deal of sense.
Again, while sports drinks may offer the same minerals, they tend to contain huge quantities of sugar, so they’re best avoided unless you’re training for an Olympic gold medal in Type 2 diabetes.
So, how does electrolyte water measure up when it comes to other health areas?
Can Electrolyte Water Help During Illness?
Although sweat and urine are the two most common ways for your body to lose electrolytes, you can also become depleted through extended bouts of vomiting or diarrhea. Under these conditions, it’s important to replenish the body’s fluids and electrolytes as quickly as possible.
When it comes to infants, they’re especially vulnerable to the effects of dehydration, and water with electrolytes makes a great deal of sense. Although sports drinks are sweeter and perhaps more palatable to an unwell child, parents need to be careful as sugar may make diarrhea worse.
Needless to say, if you’re experiencing extended bouts of vomiting or diarrhea, a trip to the doctor is going to be more beneficial to you than anything else. However, for typical bouts of these conditions, electrolyte water may very well improve how you feel.
Hype or Not?
t’s commonly thought that electrolyte-enriched water is, by definition, better for you than regular water. While that’s not necessarily the case, there are distinct circumstances where electrolyte water is a wise choice.
If you’re engaged in long periods of sport or exercise or are experiencing bouts of vomiting or diarrhea, electrolyte water provides a quick and easy way to regain balance in your body’s systems.
What’s more, it’s sugar-free and a much cheaper option than sports drinks. It may not have the Hollywood-style packaging — at least, not yet — but if you’re looking for a healthy way to boost your system, electrolyte water, such as Weo’s, is ultimately an effective answer.
Want to learn more about the science of Alkaline and other waters? Head here.