I love your site, and I decided to ask you about something I am interested in. I recently got really into working out and eating healthy, but I know NOTHING about nutrition, that is why do my own research on websites like yours (good job here), and try to learn as much information as possible.
My question is about WATER. I drink plain water during my workout. I actually drink only water and tea (green, herbal, rooibos, unsweetened), no coffee (hate it), no sodas or juices (got rid of those), no alcohol (100% abstinent).
I recently read somewhere, that you can make your “natural electrolyte workout drink” by adding a pinch of salt, pinch of sugar and some fresh squeezed lemon juice in your water. But there was actually no other information about this “drink,”- I mean HOW it works , IF it works, how it benefits me before, during or after the workout?
Have you heard of it and what’s your opinion? Thanks in advance
Nina- Czech Republic
I’m glad you asked this question as I think it’s one that confuses many people. First of all we need to talk electrolyte basics.
In order for you body, muscles, cells and tissue to operate optimally, you need the right levels of electrolytes, with the most common ones being salt, potassium, chloride and bicarbonate. Each one of these actually becomes either a positive or negative charged ion and is found in, or outside of cells. Why is this important? These little electrical buggers control water levels within the body and when they’re in balance, you function and “run” properly.
But when the balances are low, say too little sodium, some malfunctioning can occur. Sodium helps transmit electrical signals sent through the nervous system to the brain, muscles and other body functions. Think of it as a salt highway that lets the signals get to their destination. If the highway is backed up, or not efficient, you’re going to be late to the party. With potassium, we’ve all heard of cramping muscles right? Either too much or too little of this ion and you run the risk of severe muscle pain, heart arrhythmia, vomiting, diarrhea, and potential death! For what we’re talking about, these are the two you really need to concern yourself with.
Sports drinks have electrolytes and sugar, which help not only give you a shot of readily available fuel, but post workout can replenish some lost muscle glycogen. The sugar also acts as a carrier to help absorb the electrolytes and get them into your system quicker. Why drink it? During intense exercise you sweat out water and electrolytes, mainly sodium and chloride, and they need to be refilled – the sooner the better. Sweating profusely can cause electrolyte imbalances, which can decrease performance and throw a monkey wrench in your operating system. Additionally, sipping a sports’ drink during a workout will keep the tank full. So can you make you own drink with a pinch of salt, sugar and lemon juice? Hmm…
On paper it sounds good, the table sugar will only give you a hint of calories, as each teaspoon has just 15 calories. But the pinch of salt will be hardly enough to raise sodium levels, or replace any that is lost through sweat. And lemons are actually on the low side of the scale for potassium content. I would worry that the amounts aren’t accurate, and truthfully I don’t know how much benefit you’ll see from either actually.
I don’t use sports drinks during my workout. As you know I try to eat healthy and drink a lot of water as you do, especially during my workout. I also drink a protein shake right after my workout that has everything I need to refill and refuel what I just lost. I suppose you could try this drink and see if you notice any difference. Personally I would suggest drinking it during your workout. The amounts you speak of are so trivial I don’t believe it can cause you any harm. If it were me though, I’d just stick with the water unless your workouts are so intense, so long, so draining and demanding that it helps you stay stronger, longer. And you better be sweating your butt off Nina!
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