As spring approaches and we take our exercise routines outdoors, Gatorade is often the beverage of choice for rehydration and electrolyte replenishment.
Electrolytes prevent dehydration through keeping minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and sodium in balance. Dehydration occurs when too much water is lost through exercise and sweat, disrupting this delicate homeostasis.
The bad news: While mainstream sports drinks like Gatorade do replenish electrolytes and prevent dehydration, they also contain added sugars, artificial flavors and food dyes.
The good news: There are some great natural alternatives to traditional sports drinks, perfect for both the sports enthusiast and hot yoga connoisseur.
Here are two of my favorite natural sports drinks for staying hydrated and well-balanced:
1.Coconut Water for Optimum Post-Workout Recovery
Coconut water is found inside a young, unripe coconut (in contrast with coconut milk, which is found inside the mature coconut). The balance of electrolytes in coconut water is nearly the same as that in our bodies. Drink it, and you’ll be rewarded with natural electrolytes, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Unlike sugary sports drinks, it contains zero added sugars and artificial ingredients.
You can drink coconut water directly from a coconut (I love it this way!) or you can purchase it at your local health food store. Just be sure to read the ingredient list—there should be no added sugars.
2. Pre-Hydrate with Chia Seeds
Once a staple of the Incan, Mayan, and Aztec cultures, chia seeds have been long prized as an endurance food. The Mayans believed that they could run all day with the help of these seeds and so called them “chia,” meaning “strength.” When chia seeds come into contact with liquid, they soak up the water and turn into a gel. In this way, they prolong hydration and retain electrolytes in body fluids which protects against dehydration.
Here’s my simple recipe for Hydrating Chia Water. Prepare it simply with water or replace the water with coconut water for the ultimate electrolyte-balancing elixir.
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 8-10 oz glass of water
- optional: slice of fresh lemon
Using the whole chia seed (not ground), stir into the water and let sit for 15 minutes until the seeds absorb some of the water. Add the fresh lemon.
Author: Lisa Gatti
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Author’s Own