Your favorite aerobics class makes you burn a ton of calories, but it also causes you to lose essential nutrients called electrolytes through your sweat. Calcium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous and sodium are all minerals, but they are also called electrolytes because they carry an electric charge. This helps regulate fluids in your body, helps your heart beat normally, aids in muscle contraction and affects the pH of your blood. In short, electrolytes are pretty important. If you're active, keep your electrolyte levels healthy to avoid the health effects of electrolyte deficiency.
Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. These foods are rich sources of potassium, an important electrolyte that facilitates communication between nerves and muscles. Good sources include leafy greens such as spinach and collards, vine fruits such as blackberries and grapes and root vegetables, including potatoes and carrots.
Munch on a dill pickle or drink a glass of tomato juice. This increases your body's stores of sodium, which helps to control blood pressure. Most people get enough sodium in their diet, and getting too much can be detrimental to your health. However, if you work out a lot in hot weather for long periods of time, you may need to increase your intake. Just be sure not to exceed the recommended daily limit of 2,300 milligrams, unless directed to do so by your doctor.
Sprinkle your grilled chicken breast with a little salt or top it with tomatoes, lettuce and olives to increase your stores of chloride. This electrolyte helps regulate body fluids and is an important part of digestive juices. Chloride makes up 60 percent of table salt, with sodium making up the other 40 percent. Because you need to watch your sodium intake, it's a good idea to get chloride through veggies whenever possible.
Drink your milk and enjoy a container of yogurt to beef up your calcium stores. Calcium is not only important for strong bones, but also helps send and receive nerve signals and aids in muscle contraction. Choose low-fat and nonfat dairy products to limit your intake of unhealthy saturated fat.
Grill a fresh fillet of halibut and top it with toasted pumpkin seeds for a meal rich in magnesium, which aids in muscle contraction and relaxation. Lay your piece of fish over a bed of spinach to increase your magnesium intake even more.
Include lean meat in your diet to increase your level of phosphorus. This mineral makes up 1 percent of your body weight and is essential for nerve signaling, muscle contractions and a normal heartbeat. If you don't eat meat, you can also get phosphorus from dairy. For vegans, choose fortified bread and cereal to meet your body's needs.
Items you will need
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Dill pickle
- Tomato juice
- Pumpkin seeds
- Low-fat or nonfat dairy
- Lean meat
- Fortified cereal or bread
- Replenish your electrolyte stores after a tough, sweaty workout with an electrolyte-rich snack such as low-fat yogurt, cut-up fruits and veggies or vegetable juice, chicken breast or nuts and seeds.
- If you're exercising for less than an hour, water is probably all you need. However, if you're engaged in an endurance activity or it's very hot out, you may need an electrolyte drink during and after your activity to ensure you don't lose too many electrolytes.
- MedlinePlus: Electrolytes
- MedlinePlus: Potassium
- American Council on Exercise: Electrolytes: Understanding Replacement Options
- MedlinePlus: Sodium in Diet
- Hammer Nutrition: Electrolyte Replenishment – Why it's so Important and How To Do it Right
- MedlinePlus: Chloride in Diet
- Cooking Light: Ultimate Sodium Guide: Eat Less Salt!
- MedlinePlus: Calcium in Diet
- MedlinePlus: Magnesium in Diet
- MedlinePlus: Phosphorus in Diet
- Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
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