Electrolyte replacement: Do you need a sports drink for sodium?
The food industry is again duping many active people. Just today I met with yet-another recreational exerciser who reported buying “electrolyte replacers” to drink after her 10-mile run. The run took her about 90 minutes – way too short to deplete her body of electrolytes. But more critical than that, she had no idea that food – good old-fashioned food – is an excellent source of electrolytes.
Electrolytes are generally referred to as sodium, potassium, and calcium—among other minerals. We all know the typical American Diet offers way too much sodium. That’s why public health messages encourage us to eat less sodium (salt). Even most athletes are unlikely to need extra sodium (unless they are heavy sweaters who are working out for extended periods of time in the heat, like during a tennis tournament, three-hour run, or a 100-mile bike race.)
Rather than needlessly spend your money on a sports drink for extra sodium, just sprinkle some salt on your pre- and/or post-exercise meal. Or have pretzels and a banana for a pre- or post-exercise snack. Or drink chocolate milk instead of a sports drink. You’ll get more sodium (yes, milk contains sodium, as well as potassium and calcium) as well as far more nutrition than in sugar-water (a.k.a sports drink). Or, if you prefer the sports drink, at least buy it as an educated consumer, knowing what it is, and what it is not.
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