Why You Should Try These Natural Electrolyte Replacements and Ditch the Gatorade!

Why You Should Try These Natural Electrolyte Replacements and Ditch the Gatorade!


So What are Electrolytes and Why are They Important?

Electrolytes are minerals that break into electrically charged particles when dissolved in water. Electrolytes create the electrical impulses required for physical activity and to regulate your body’s fluids. Electrolytes your body needs includes sodium and potassium, as well as calcium, magnesium, chloride, phosphorous & bicarbonate. Sodium however is the one you loose most of as you sweat, this is because sodium follows water and is excreted through sweating. Dehydration and loss of electrolytes can lead to headaches, muscle cramps and fatigue. Not what you want as you are training or competing in an endurance event. So it’s important to make sure that you are replacing lost electrolytes especially during longer workouts or events.

So isn’t Gatorade a Great choice to replace these?

Gatorade, Powerade and other formulated sports drinks are a popular choice and are consumed by everyone from children to beginner athletes, recreational mountain bikers, hikers, etc. It is also provided to competitors at marathon and triathlon events.

If you are only exercising for an hour or less having some water and real food after your workout will be more than sufficient to replace all the electrolytes you have lost. For longer endurance workouts and events electrolyte replenishment may be required but lets have a look at some of the most harmful ingredients common in some of the more popular sports drinks:

  1. Bromated Vegetable Oil (BVO) – added to fruit flavored drinks this ingredient is used as a stabilizer for flavoring oils and stops the drink becoming cloudy. Its been linked to some pretty nasty health concerns such as skin rashes, acne and thyroid disease. Its banned in Europe, Australia, India & Japan but permitted in the US and Canada. An online petition with over 200,000 signatures in 2013 persuaded Gatorade to remove this ingredient from their products and in May 2014 Coca-Cola announced they would also start to phase this ingredient out of Powerade. Keep an eye out for this controversial ingredient however whenever you pick up a sports drink.
  1. Sucralose – Sugar-free versions of your favorite sports drink often contain artificial sweeteners such as sucralose. Sucralose is made when sugar is treated with trityl chloride, acetic anhydride, hydrogen chlorine, thionyl chloride, and methanol in the presence of dimethylformamide, 4-methylmorpholine, toluene, methyl isobutyl ketone, acetic acid, benzyltriethlyammonium chloride, and sodium methoxide, making it unlike anything found in nature. The presence of chlorine is thought to be the most dangerous component of sucralose. Chlorine is considered a carcinogen and has been used in poisonous gas, disinfectants, pesticides, and plastics. Potential side effects of the use of sucralose include the following:
  • Gastrointestinal problems including bloating, gas, diarrhea, and nausea
  • Skin irritations including rashes, hives, redness, itching, and swelling
  • Wheezing cough
  • Runny nose
  • Chest pains and heart palpitations
  • Anxiety, anger, mood swings and depression
  • Itchy eyes and blurred vision
  • Blood sugar increases and weight gain
  1. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) – Most packaged sports drinks are high in sugar, and although some carbohydrates is beneficial after a high intensity or endurance workout you don’t want them coming from HFCS. A highly refined sweetener made from corn HFCS will help you undo all the good work you did during your workout. It’s made by separating the corn starch from the corn kernel and then through acid hydrolysis converted into corn syrup. Linked to everything from weight gain to disease where possible avoid products with HFCS added.
  1. Artificial Colors –According to Gatorade the colors are present to help consumers differentiate the different flavors. Thanks Gatorade. Do you look for ‘no artificial colors and flavors’ on your other food purchases? If not you probably should be and if you are then make sure you also check your favorite sports drink. Artificial flavors and colors have been linked to various types of cancer as well as hyperactivity, hypersensitivity and other behavioral effects in children, organ damage, birth defects, stomach issues, headaches and allergic reactions. As of July 2010, most foods in the EU that contain artificial food dyes were labeled with warning labels stating the food “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” The British government also asked that food manufacturers remove most artificial colors from foods back in 2009.

You might not be specifically trying to loose weight by participating in your favorite exercise program however I’m guessing a few of you wouldn’t mind loosing a couple of kilos and most of us aren’t super happy about gaining weight. Often mountain bikers and hikers undo all their good work eating sugar loaded Cliff Bars, Gu Gels & Gatorade. Swapping to a whole foods alternative can help you become more lean, strong and happy.

David Katz, physician and nutrition expert at the Yale University School of Medicine, says sports drinks generally aren’t much better than sodas. Mountain biking legend Gary Fisher says these “engineered nutrition” products keep many amateur athletes on the tubby side. “I see guys who really put in the miles, and they have a gut that never goes away,” Fisher says.

So What Can I do Instead?

Making your own sports drink is super easy and can be just as effective without all the unwanted, sugar and chemicals.

homemade sports drink

Here are some foods that are great for replenishment of electrolytes to combine into a smoothie. You may want to add different ingredients for different activities as you will probably want a different option for running to mountain biking.

  • Celery
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Yogurt
  • Coconut water
  • Nuts and dried fruit
  • Oranges & lemons

Here are 5 great combinations to blend together to make your own awesome homemade sports drink:

  1. Celery, coconut water, apple & strawberries – Celery is a source of potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus & sodium. Coconut water is a great source of both potassium and sodium and makes a great liquid base for the smoothie that adds a different taste compared to water. Strawberries are also a good source of potassium and the apple adds a natural sweetness which makes this smoothie taste great.
  1. Coconut water, banana & blueberries – Banana is a great source of potassium & blueberries are little powerhouses of nutrients, where do I start with the benefits of blueberries!
  1. Chia seeds, coconut water, cantaloupe, watermelon, apple & dash Himalayan salt – Chia seeds contain Potassium, calcium and magnesium, fibre & protein. Add a dash of Himalayan salt which contains 84 essential minerals which in addition to sodium chloride including potassium, calcium, zinc, magnesium, iodine that help to balance your electrolytes and help to improve your circulation.
  1. Banana, almond milk, plain yogurt, scoop of protein powder & honey –Bananas are high in potassium, almonds a great source of magnesium & calcium & with sodium, potassium & calcium in yogurt this is a yummy electrolyte replacement smoothie that also adds some protein. A great recovery drink!
  1. Coconut water, Himalayan salt, oranges & pineapple – A super simple one to bring on a run that tastes great and is going to replace those electrolytes fast.

homemade sports drink
These will taste way better and be better for you without any of the nasty chemicals and artificial ingredients.

Let me know in the comments below if you have tried to make your own homemade sports drink or if you have tried any of the above!


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Hi, I'm Karen and I work with busy people just like you every day to help them boost energy levels, lose weight, clear up their skin and improve their health through finding the right foods that work for their unique body. My 1-on-1 and group health coaching programs focus on a customized plan for you that fits into your lifestyle and is right for your body. We focus on whole foods and building sustainable habits to transform your life. No dieting, no scales and no feeling deprived. Ready to embrace healthy eating and feel better in your body? Ready to stop feeling tired all the time? Come over and say hello in the Real Energy Food Facebook Group

Comments · 2

  1. Hi Karen

    thanks for this. I’m an occasional gatorade drinker so this seems like a good alternative. I notice that coconut water is a bit of a theme. Do you think it’s worth the effort and do you have one to recommend?


    1. Hi Angus
      I love coconut water, there are so many health benefits. I try and find one that is the least processed so it still has many of its nutrients in tact. If you can find a coconut and cut the top off thats the best and lots of health food stores are starting to sell them. But if your buying the packaged kind stay away from any brands that have added sweeteners and I always try and buy an organic one. Here is a great article on some of the best and worst brands in the US. They may have some of the same brands in Australia but you would need to check. Hope this helps

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