As an electrolyte-based sports drink company, we often get the question, “Can’t I get my electrolytes through food rather than an electrolyte drink?”.
The short answer is: YES! Of course you can consume electrolytes through your regular diet.
…although your diet is likely to contain the electrolytes needed for healthy living, there are two distinct advantages to consuming them through fluids vs. food. Both of these reasons are especially important if you are living an active lifestyle and interested in fueling your body for optimal performance!
The first advantage to consuming your electrolytes through fluids is timing. Let’s remember the big picture here: When we are moving/training/competing, the ultimate goal is to stay hydrated. Proper hydration ensures that your muscles are receiving the oxygen they need to keep you moving forward (or backwards/sideways…whatever floats your boat). When properly designed, the mix of electrolytes in your water optimizes the absorption rate into your bloodstream. This means that your body begins to reap the benefits more immediately than if you were to consume electrolytes through your food.
While your food may contain all necessary electrolytes for a healthy diet, it naturally takes longer to work through your system, digest, filter and absorb. For this reason, consuming electrolytes through your fluids is advantageous when you’re looking for more immediate relief and replenishment.
Simplify. Simplify. This is the second reason that you should consider drinking your electrolytes. Consider this: an electrolyte-enhanced sports drink contains minimal ingredients compared to your lunch. Each of these ingredients has been carefully selected to aid in the re-hydration and replenishment of your body. That said, consuming electrolytes through fluids makes for a much simpler binding and absorption process for your body.
Consuming electrolytes through your meal is wonderful and encouraged for the long-haul benefits. Your body has a LOT to process when you eat a meal. This means that the digestion and absorption of electrolytes is not the primary focus. The health benefits from electrolytes will eventually manifest themselves once your body has digested, processed and filtered all of the vitamins and minerals that you have provided it. On the other hand, adding electrolytes to your water makes for a much simpler absorption process, ensuring that your body is incurring benefits much more directly.
As with most things, your electrolyte intake is all about balance. Make sure that you’re providing your body the nourishment it needs long term, while also delivering what it needs during training and recovery.
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