8 Healthy Drinks Rich in Electrolytes
Electrolytes are minerals that conduct an electrical charge when mixed with water. They help regulate a variety of your body's most essential functions, including nerve signaling, pH balance, muscle contraction, and hydration (1Trusted Source).
The primary electrolytes that your body uses to carry out these vital functions are sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, chloride, and bicarbonate (1Trusted Source).
The concentration of electrolytes in your blood and other bodily fluids is maintained within a very tight range. If your electrolyte levels become too high or too low, serious health complications can arise.
Daily electrolyte and fluid losses occur naturally through sweat and other waste products. Therefore, it's important to regularly replenish them with a mineral-rich diet.
However, certain activities or situations — such as heavy exercise or bouts of diarrhea or vomiting — can increase how many electrolytes you lose and may warrant the addition of an electrolyte drink to your routine.
Here are 8 electrolyte-rich beverages you may want to add to your health and wellness tool kit.
1. Coconut Water
Coconut water, or coconut juice, is the clear liquid found inside of a coconut.
Over the past several years, it has become one of the most popular beverages on the market, and it's now bottled and sold worldwide.
Coconut water is naturally low in sugar and contains a variety of electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium (2).
Coconut water is naturally low in calories and sugar yet rich in electrolytes like potassium and magnesium.
When it comes to electrolyte drinks, cow's milk is somewhat of an unsung hero. Contrary to popular belief, milk can be used for a lot more than breakfast cereal or coffee.
In addition to its rich supply of electrolytes like calcium, sodium, and potassium, milk provides a healthy combination of carbs and protein. These two macronutrients can help you refuel and promote muscle tissue repair after a workout (3, 4Trusted Source).
Some research suggests that these characteristics could make milk a better post-workout beverage than many commercial sports drinks — and at a fraction of the price (5Trusted Source).
Given that milk's benefits are driven by its electrolyte, carb, and protein content, you may choose whole, low-fat, or skim milk, depending on your personal preference.
It's worth noting that regular cow's milk may not be the right choice for everyone — especially those who are following a vegan diet or intolerant to dairy products.
If you're lactose intolerant but still want to include milk in your workout recovery regimen, opt for a lactose-free version.
Meanwhile, if you adhere to a vegan diet or have a milk protein allergy, you should avoid milk completely.
While plant-based alternatives likely won't offer the same benefits as cow's milk, some research has shown that the protein in soy milk may aid muscle repair while providing an electrolyte profile similar to that of cow's milk (6, 7Trusted Source).
Milk is a good source of electrolytes, as well as protein and carbs, making it a good post-workout beverage.
3. Watermelon Water (and Other Fruit Juices)
Though the name may suggest otherwise, watermelon water is simply the juice that comes from a watermelon.
One cup (237 ml) of 100% watermelon juice provides almost 6% of the Daily Value (DV) for potassium and magnesium while offering small amounts of other electrolytes like calcium and phosphorus (8).
Watermelon juice also contains L-citrulline. When used at supplemental doses, this amino acid may enhance oxygen transport and athletic performance (9Trusted Source).
However, current research suggests that the amount of L-citrulline in regular watermelon juice probably isn't enough to have any measurable effect on exercise performance (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
One of the main drawbacks of using fruit juice as an electrolyte replacement drink is that it's typically low in sodium.
If you're sweating for a prolonged period and attempt to rehydrate with a beverage that doesn't contain sodium, you risk developing low sodium blood levels (16Trusted Source).
To mitigate this risk, some people like to make their own sports drinks using a combination of fruit juices, salt, and water.
Watermelon and other fruit juices contain several electrolytes but are typically low in sodium and high in sugar.
Smoothies are an excellent way to mix a variety of electrolyte-rich foods into one drinkable concoction.
Some of the best sources of electrolytes come from whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and dairy products — all of which can be blended to make a delicious and nutritious smoothie.
If you're getting over a stomach bug and want to replace lost electrolytes, a smoothie may be easier to digest and more appetizing than many of the aforementioned foods on their own.
Smoothies are also a great option for anyone looking for a post-workout recovery drink. They can not only replace lost electrolytes but also be a good way to support muscle tissue growth and repair if you include some protein-rich additions.
However, a smoothie may not be the best option if you're looking for an electrolyte drink to consume in the middle of heavy or prolonged exercise.
That's because it has the potential to leave you feeling too full to comfortably complete your workout. Thus, it's probably best reserved for at least 1 hour before or immediately following your exercise routine.
Smoothies allow you to obtain electrolytes from blended, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. They're a great pre- or post-workout recovery beverage.
5. Electrolyte-Infused Waters
Electrolyte-infused water can be a great, low-calorie way to replenish electrolytes and keep you well hydrated.
Still, not all electrolyte waters are created equal.
In the United States, most standard tap water contains about 2–3% of your daily needs for certain electrolytes, such as sodium, calcium, and magnesium (17).
Interestingly, certain brands of electrolyte-enhanced bottled water can be very costly and don't contain significantly more electrolytes — and in some cases even less.
That said, some brands are specifically designed to assist with hydration and mineral replacement and contain higher quantities of electrolytes. These are more likely to be worth your money, depending on why you're drinking an electrolyte beverage in the first place.
Keep in mind that these kinds of waters are also likely to be packed with sugar, as many of them are designed to replenish carb stores during prolonged exercise. If you're not in the market for those extra sugar calories, opt for brands with little or no added sugar.
You may also try adding freshly cut or muddled fruit and herbs to your water bottle to create your own flavored, electrolyte-infused water.
Electrolyte-infused waters can be great low-calorie hydration options, but be mindful about the brands that contain large quantities of added sugar.
6. Electrolyte Tablets
Electrolyte tablets are a convenient, inexpensive, and portable way to make your own electrolyte drink no matter where you are.
All you have to do is drop one of the tablets in some water and shake or stir to mix.
Most electrolyte tablets contain sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium — though the exact quantities may vary depending on the brand.
They also tend to be low calorie, have little to no added sugar, and come in a variety of unique, fruity flavors.
Certain brands of electrolyte tablets may also contain caffeine or supplemental doses of vitamins, so be sure to check the label if you want to avoid any of those extra ingredients.
If you can't find electrolyte tablets locally or are hoping for a more affordable price, they're widely available online.
Electrolyte tablets are a convenient and affordable option for making your own electrolyte drink. All you have to do is mix a tablet with water.
7. Sports Drinks
Commercially sold sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade have been among the most popular electrolyte drinks on the market since the 1980s.
These beverages can come in handy for endurance athletes who need the combination of easily digestible carbs, fluid, and electrolytes to maintain hydration and energy throughout an athletic event or training session.
Yet, commercial sports drinks also carry some major drawbacks. They tend to contain a lot of artificial colors, flavors, and added sugar, which aren't wholly necessary for anyone — whether you're an athlete or not.
Plus, sugar-free versions may not be a much better alternative.
Though they don't contain added sugar and have fewer calories, they usually contain sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners instead. These sweeteners may contribute to uncomfortable digestive symptoms, such as gas and bloating in some people (21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).
One simple way to avoid the less-than-favorable ingredients in sports drinks is to make your own.
Simply use a combination of 100% fruit juice, coconut water, and a pinch of salt to create a healthier electrolyte beverage without the artificial ingredients and added sugar.
Commercial sports drinks can be good for refueling and replenishing electrolytes during intense exercise, but they're often high in sugar and artificial colors and flavors. Try making a healthier version at home.
Pedialyte is a commercial electrolyte drink marketed for children, but adults may use it, too.
It's designed to be a rehydration supplement when you're experiencing fluid losses due to diarrhea or vomiting. It's much lower in sugar than a typical sports drink, and sodium, chloride, and potassium are the only electrolytes it includes.
Each variety contains only 9 grams of sugar, but the flavored options also contain artificial sweeteners. If you want to avoid artificial sweeteners, opt for an unflavored version (23).
Pedialyte is a rehydration supplement that only contains sodium, chloride, and potassium. It's intended for children or adults to replenish electrolytes during a bout of diarrhea or vomiting.
Is an electrolyte drink right for you?
Sports drinks and other types of electrolyte beverages are frequently marketed to the general public, but they're probably not necessary for most people.
In fact, regular intake of some high-calorie, high-sugar electrolyte drinks could make it more difficult for you to reach your health goals, especially if they're not being used for their intended purpose.
Most healthy, moderately active people can stay hydrated and obtain adequate amounts of electrolytes by eating a balanced, nutrient-dense diet and drinking plenty of water.
That said, there are specific instances when you may be at a greater risk of becoming dehydrated, and plain food and water just won't cut it.
If you're engaging in continuous, vigorous physical activity for longer than 60 minutes, spending extended periods in a very hot environment, or experiencing diarrhea or vomiting, an electrolyte drink may be necessary.
If you're not sure whether you're hydrating properly, watch for these signs of mild to moderate dehydration (25Trusted Source):
- dry mouth and tongue
- dry skin
- muscle weakness
- dark urine
If you're experiencing any of these symptoms and consuming adequate fluids, it may be time to incorporate an electrolyte beverage into your routine.
If these symptoms worsen, consult your healthcare provider.
Most people can maintain fluid and electrolyte balance from water and a balanced diet alone. Still, if you're engaging in prolonged, intense physical activity or experiencing vomiting or diarrhea, an electrolyte drink may be warranted.
The Bottom Line
Electrolytes are minerals that help your body carry out a variety of vital functions, such as hydration, muscle contractions, pH balance, and nerve signaling.
To function properly, your body must maintain adequate levels of fluid and electrolytes at all times.
Beverages like coconut water, milk, fruit juice, and sports drinks can all contribute to hydration and electrolyte balance.
For most people, a balanced diet and adequate water intake is enough to maintain electrolyte levels. However, some instances may warrant the use of electrolyte drinks, particularly if you're experiencing rapid fluid losses due to sweating or illness.
Drinking plenty of water and watching for early signs of dehydration can help you determine whether adding an electrolyte beverage to your routine is right for you.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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Since even moderate-intensity workouts offer a slew of benefits, walking is a good choice for people looking to stay healthy.
How to Rock Your Walk<p>Walking isn't just fun and healthy. It's accessible.</p><p>"Walking is cheap," says Dr. John Paul H. Rue, a sports medicine doctor at <a href="https://mdmercy.com/" target="_blank">Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore</a>. "You can do it anywhere at any time; [it] requires little to no special equipment and has many of the same cardio benefits as running or other more intense workouts."</p><p>Want to up your walking game? Try the tips below.</p>
Use Hand Weights<p>Cardio and strength training can go hand-in-hand when you add weights to your walk.</p><p>A <a href="https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2019/03000/Associations_of_Resistance_Exercise_with.14.aspx" target="_blank">2019 study</a> found that weight training is good for your heart, and <a href="https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(17)30167-2/abstract" target="_blank">research</a> shows it reduces the risk of developing a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/nutrition-metabolism-disorders" target="_blank">metabolic disorder</a> by 17 percent. People with metabolic disorders have a higher chance of being diagnosed with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.</p><p>Rue suggests not carrying weights for your entire walk.</p><p>"Hand weights can give you an added level of energy burning, but you have to be careful with these because carrying [them] over a long period of time or while walking could actually lead to some overuse injuries," he says.</p>
Make It a Circuit<p>As another option, consider doing a circuit. First, put a pair of dumbbells on your lawn or somewhere in your home. Walk around the block once, then stop and do some bicep curls and tricep lifts before walking around the block again.</p><p>Rue recommends <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/running-with-weights" target="_blank">avoiding ankle weights</a> during cardio workouts, as they force you to use your quadriceps rather than hamstrings. They can also cause muscle imbalance, according to the <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/wearable-weights-how-they-can-help-or-hurt" target="_blank">Harvard Health Letter</a>.</p>
Find a Fitness Trail<p>Strength training isn't limited to weights. You can get stronger by <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/bodyweight-workout" target="_blank">simply using your body</a>.</p><p>Often found at parks, fitness trails are obstacle courses with equipment for pullups, pushups, rowing, and stretches to build upper and lower body strength.</p><p>Try searching "fitness trails near me" online, checking out your local parks and recreation website, or calling the municipal office to <a href="https://calisthenics-parks.com/" target="_blank">find one</a>.</p>
Recruit a Friend<p>People who workout together stay healthy together.</p><p><a href="https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-017-0584-3" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that older adults who exercised with a group improved or maintained their functional health and enjoyed their lives more.</p><p>Enlist the help of a walking buddy with a regimen you aspire to have. If you don't know anyone in your area, apps like <a href="https://www.strava.com/" target="_blank">Strava</a> have social networking features so you can get support from fellow exercisers.</p>
Try Meditation<p>According to the <a href="https://www.nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/nhis/2017" target="_blank">2017 National Health Interview Survey</a>, published by the National Institutes of Health, meditation is on the rise, and for good reason.</p><p>Researchers <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29616846/" target="_blank">found</a> that mind-body relaxation practices can regulate inflammation, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/biological-rhythms" target="_blank">circadian rhythms</a>, and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/glucose" target="_blank">glucose</a> metabolism, as well as lower <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/high-blood-pressure-hypertension" target="_blank">blood pressure</a>.</p><p>"Any form of exercise can be turned into a meditation of some type, either by the surroundings you are walking in, like a park or trail, or by blocking out the outside world with music on your headphones," Rue says.</p><p>You can also play a podcast or download an app like <a href="https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app" target="_blank">Headspace</a> that has a library of guided meditations to practice while you walk.</p>
Do Fartlek Walks<p>Typically used in running, fartlek intervals alternate periods of increased and decreased speed. These are <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-hiit" target="_blank">high-intensity interval training (HIIT)</a> workouts, which allow exercisers to accomplish more in less time.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0154075" target="_blank">One study</a> showed that 10-minute interval training improved <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/metabolic-syndrome" target="_blank">cardiometabolic</a> health, or lowered the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, just as well as working out at a continuous pace for 50 minutes.</p><p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0111489" target="_blank">Research</a> also shows that HIIT workouts increase muscle <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fast-twitch-muscles" target="_blank">oxidative</a> capacity, or the ability to use oxygen. To do a fartlek walk, try walking at an increased pace for 3 minutes, slow down for 2 minutes, and repeat.</p>
Gradually Increase Pace<p>A faster walking pace is associated with a lower risk of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/copd" target="_blank">chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)</a> and respiratory diseases, according to a <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30303933/" target="_blank">2019 study</a>.</p><p>Still, it's best not to go from a stroll to an Olympic-worthy power walk in a day. Instead, increase your pace gradually to prevent injury.</p><p>"Start by walking at a brisk pace for about 10 minutes per day, 3 to 5 days per week," Rue says. "Once you've done this for a few weeks, increase your time by 5 to 10 minutes per day until you get to 30 minutes."</p>
Add Stairs<p>You've likely heard that taking the stairs instead of an elevator is a way to add more movement into your daily routine. It's also a way to step up your walking. Stair climbing has been shown to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211335519301123?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">decrease the risk of mortality</a> and can easily add a bit more challenge to your walk.</p><p>If you don't have stairs in your home, you can often find them outside a local municipal building, train station, or at a high school stadium.</p>
Is Your Walk a True Cardio Workout?<p>Not all walks are equal. A walk that's too leisurely may not provide enough burn to qualify as cardio. To see if you're getting a good workout, try to <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-check-heart-rate" target="_blank">measure your heart rate</a> using a monitor.</p><p>"A target goal for a good walking workout heart rate is about 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate," Rue says, adding that maximum heart rate is <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/fat-burning-heart-rate" target="_blank">typically calculated</a> by 220 beats per minute minus your age.</p><p>You can also monitor how easily you can carry on a conversation while you walk to gauge your heart rate.</p><p>"If you can walk and carry on a normal conversation, that's probably a lower intensity walk," says Rue. "If you are slightly breathless but can still have a conversation, that's probably a moderate workout. If you are out of breath and can't talk normally, that's a vigorous workout."</p>
Takeaway<p>By shaking up your routine, you can add excitement to your workout and reap even more rewards than a basic walk provides. Increasing the pace and intensity of a workout will make it more effective.</p><p>Simply pick your favorite variation to add some spice to your next walk.</p>
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