Most of us have heard of electrolytes before. Whether it was something you learned about when you were in health class as a student, as an athlete, or at a doctor’s office when you were ill, we have nearly all had some experience with these life-sustaining minerals.
Unfortunately, most of us know about electrolytes because of an imbalance that we are treated for as a child during illness or sports injury, or because we learn during our schooling that the body can easily become dehydrated without these minerals. Electrolytes - including sodium, magnesium, calcium potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, and phosphate - are naturally-occurring substances that exist both inside the healthy human body and in various places throughout nature. While they can be found in many places and are often easy to come by, it is alarming how often people suffer from electrolyte imbalance - and the terrible effects it can have on the body.
Electrolytes can be replaced when they are lost or become imbalanced, but is it really all that important? Just how much of a risk does a person run by letting their electrolyte count get out of balance?
Why are Electrolytes Important?
If you have ever been physically active and experienced muscle cramping as a result, you already know why electrolytes are so important. Electrolytes are minerals that form ions in your bodily fluids. An important part of numerous key processes in your body, their levels must stay within a relatively tight range - otherwise, complications begin to result.
Muscle cramping is just one of the many side effects of an electrolyte imbalance in the body. Very mild electrolyte imbalances aren’t likely to cause noticeable symptoms, but once these imbalances become severe enough, numerous issues can arise. These include:
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Irregular or fast heartbeat
In rare cases, death can result from electrolyte imbalances. It is important to watch for signs of these imbalances in athletes and very active people, especially children and older adults.
Sweating and loss of bodily fluids via illness are two of the primary reasons for an imbalance of electrolytes, although improper hydration and diet can also be contributing factors. This is why many people choose to supplement their regular intake of these substances to ensure that they aren’t ever too far out of their healthy ranges. Patients who have suffered from kidney disease, severe injuries such as burns or surgical procedures, or who have had eating disorders may also benefit from electrolyte supplementation.
Ultimately, any time your body is losing fluids or you suspect there may be an imbalance in electrolyte levels, supplementation is a good idea. There are numerous beverages and other supplements available to help you replace lost electrolytes, but choosing the right one can be difficult. For athletes and parents of children, one of the biggest drawbacks when considering many mainstream sports drinks and other sources of electrolytes is that they contain sugar. The problem is, sugar and electrolytes aren’t exactly a match made in healthy heaven.
Electrolytes Without Sugar - Why the Two Don’t Mix
Technically, there is nothing dangerous about consuming electrolytes with sugar. You aren’t going to spontaneously become ill upon drinking a cheap sports drink loaded with empty calories, unless you’re simply allergic to some of the sub par ingredients it contains. However, the problem with these drinks is that they contain a lot of filler ingredients - including various types of sugars, artificial colors, flavorings, and more - that have no business being paired with the electrolytes your body needs.
When your body is in need of re-hydration, it needs clean, cold water. When it needs balance restored to its electrolyte levels, it needs high-quality electrolytes in bio-available forms that the body can use. Everything else that most sports drink companies add to their beverages? That’s the stuff your body doesn’t need - and you shouldn’t be shopping for.
In some circumstances, it makes sense to consume a drink that offers both sugar and an electrolyte solution. One instance might be if you’re a toddler and you’re experiencing your first bout with dehydration. In that circumstance, drinking a sugar-laden beverage to help you get over your tummy trouble is understandable.
When you’re an adult and looking for a healthier alternative, though, you don’t need pediatric re-hydration solutions. You don’t need chemical-heavy, saccharine-sweet sports drinks. You need something that will help you re-hydrate and replace lost fluids, while also bringing your body’s electrolyte ratio back into balance.
Thankfully, these days, you have options.
Sugar-Free Electrolyte Drinks
Thinking about checking out some sugar-free options for electrolyte drinks? These days, the grocery store aisles and online search results are full of promising products. Choosing one from the crowd can be tricky.
Something to consider when you’re opting for a sugar-free drink is whether you need something water based or something with a bit more flavor. When you’re looking to go natural with your energy and sports drinks, you may find that many are made from plant-based ingredients. This can impart flavor and natural, wholesome goodness that you won’t find with synthetic ingredients, including both optimum hydration and amazing, natural taste. Choosing something that is born from ingredients like juices and coconut water can make the difference in flat flavors and tempting tastes that keep you focused on your goals to drink more good-for-you beverages.
Likewise, ingredients like coconut water are naturally full of electrolytes. This means that you can get the minerals your body is craving without wrecking your wellness goals - or compromising your quest to eat and live more naturally. Consider a plant-based, sugar-free or low-sugar electrolyte drink for everything you want in a refreshment and so much more.
The Benefits of Sugar-Free Sports Drinks
What are the benefits of choosing a sugar-free or naturally low-sugar beverage for your refreshment between workouts? The answers are almost too numerous to name.
First, there is perhaps the most obvious benefit: Re-hydration. Whether you are sweating on a court or field or just relaxing in a study session, staying hydrated throughout the day is important to human health.
Water is the gold standard for maintaining hydration, but not all sources of water are equally laden with electrolytes. When you’re looking to stay hydrated as well as quench your body’s thirst for vital minerals, adding one of these sugar-free electrolyte drinks can be a great way to do just that.
There’s also the issue of being safe and accessible to nearly everyone. Many people cannot consume processed sugars. Many others prefer not to. These people still deserve to have access to a healthy and delicious rehydration option!
Drinks made from natural ingredients like fruit juices and coconut water contain the kind of sweetness that pleases most palettes and is also well-tolerated by most bodies. Those with major health concerns should speak to a doctor before consuming any new product or food, but anyone looking for an alternative to mass-produced sports drinks with a lower sugar content will undoubtedly rejoice at the sight of these natural options.
Last, there are the health-boosting benefits that these drinks boast. Not only do they help you get and stay hydrated and prevent you from consuming unnecessary sugars, but they also add necessary minerals to your diet. Whether you need them for support during and after workouts or just to get you through your regular day, these electrolytes are an important part of your overall wellness - and an important reason to choose sugar-free, plant-based sports drinks.
Ready to learn more about drinks like the ones mentioned above? Then you’re ready to learn more about Greater Than Sports Drinks. These delicious little cartons of body-boosting greatness contain the natural power of plants, from sweet fruits to hydrating coconut water. They’re naturally rich in electrolytes, so you don’t have to turn to highly-processed, chemical-laded beverages and supplements to get your levels back in balance.
Best of all, Greater Than products are all created without additional sugars and come in a range of delicious flavors that mean you’re sure to find a favorite or two among the bunch. Certified organic, Non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, keto-friendly and paleo-friendly, these drinks are the ideal addition to just about anyone’s diet - and are sure to make an excellent addition to your workout routine.
If you’re ready to learn more about the science of how we create the perfect sports drink - and how it can benefit your body in a big way - drop us a line today. We can’t wait to hear from you - and can’t wait for you to try our delicious take on electrolytes.