At the nutrition seminar, Ben and Matt challenged us to not only drink more water, but to drink water infused with electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals that have ionized (lost or gained electrons) so that they have a charge. Replenishing these electrolytes is key to optimum health because everyday we lose significant amounts of them in our body fluids (urine, sweat, and feces). In fact, the more stressed you are, the more electrolytes your kidneys will release. If you're like most Americans, your day starts with you rushing out the door to drive in traffic to work, where you rely on coffee to get you through the 8-10 hours of multi-tasking to juggle emails, texts, phone calls, meetings, deadlines, appointments, etc. Our days are historically much more stressful than they've ever been! This combination of stress and the usage of diuretics (coffee and other stimulants), will definitely cause your kidneys to release electrolytes at a rate that's much faster than ideal. Add a workout to this routine, and you're putting your body under even more stress and sweating even more electrolytes out.
Many of us are aware of the water loss throughout the day, so we make a point to replenish as much as possible. However, drinking plain water is an incomplete way to replenish what we've lost throughout our day. Think of it this way, if I took a salt water solution, removed some salt and some water, and then added just water back, I'd have a much more dilute solution than what I started with. That's the same thing we're doing if we only replenish with water.
Two of the most important electrolytes are sodium and potassium. One reason these are so crucial to metabolism and energy is because they are the fuel for the sodium potassium pump found on the cell membrane of every cell in your body. The sodium potassium pump fuels the final phase of metabolism (the electron transport chain) and therefore is responsible for most of the production of Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP, the primary energy carrier in our bodies). If you are low in sodium and potassium you will feel sluggish! The more energy you use (via metabolism, physical activity, stress, etc), the more sodium and potassium you need!
Sodium and potassium are not the only electrolytes found in the body. The main electrolytes are sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and chloride. Electrolytes affect the amount of fluid in your body, the pH of your blood, your muscle and nerve function, and many other processes. Signs that you are low in electrolytes include: low energy, water retention, muscle spasms, muscle cramps or weakness, headaches and migraines, food cravings, dizziness, dry mouth, dark urine, brain fog, and in extreme cases irregular heartbeat/blood pressure and seizures.
One of the cheapest and easiest ways to replenish electrolytes is to add 1-2 tsp of sea salt to your water. Sea salt not only contains sodium and chloride, but it also provides a plethora of other trace electrolytes. Another way to replenish your electrolytes is through a product called "e-lyte". It can be purchased on Amazon. One bottle goes a very long way because you only add one capful to your water. Bottoms up!