When you hear electrolytes, you probably think about drinks for athletes. However, the importance of electrolytes exists when starting a low carb diet too.
The importance of electrolytes is for everyone, not just athletes who tend to sweat a lot. Electrolytes are important for many bodily functions. When you make a thought, or are reading this post, electrolytes are used to link brain impulses. Each time your heart beats, it requires a little electric impulse. This is thanks to electrolytes.
What are electrolytes?
Water regulation is also regulated via electrolytes. So what exactly are these important minerals? Electrolytes are charged ions that keep your fluids balanced. Below is a list of the most important electrolytes:
Who may need to replenish electrolytes?
Most people do not find themselves lacking electrolytes. Conventionally speaking, it is just athletes who sweat a lot and deplete electrolytes. But, there is a population that goes unnoticed. Avid low carb dieters can become electrolyte deficient, particularly when just starting out in a weight loss phase. Read on to see the importance of electrolytes and why they are critical on a low carb diet. And, find out how you can get electrolytes without drinking high-sugar electrolyte-rich drinks.
The importance of electrolytes and how to replenish
There exists the importance of electrolytes for low carb dieters. For starters, those following the low carb way of eating typically need more sodium. Headaches are a common issue for those just getting started on low carb. Since most people get their sodium from processed foods, a whole food low carb diet can be deficient in sodium. In addition, a high water intake equates to more urination. Excreting a lot of urine tends to reduce sodium levels. So, if you have headaches after moving to a low carb diet, increase sodium. A great way to get your sodium is to drink bone broth.
Similar to sodium, potassium often gets flushed out when high amounts of water are consumed. Maintaining potassium levels is important to protect lean muscle mass when you lose weight on a low carb diet. Also like sodium, low potassium levels can result in cramping and fatigue. If you are eating too much protein and not enough salt, this can also cause low potassium levels. Foods rich in potassium that are also low carb include avocados, paprika, cocoa powder, unsweetened baking chocolate, salmon, and tuna. Dried herbs that have potassium include parsley, basil, dill, tarragon, turmeric, and oregano.
Another side effect of low carb dieting involves muscle cramps. The electrolyte magnesium is a great way to fix these problems. Most people who have metabolic diseases such as diabetes are deficient in magnesium. It should be no surprise since the body requires about 54 milligrams of magnesium to process a gram of sugar. And, when the body becomes insulin resistant from years of eating a high carb diet, the cells are no longer able to store magnesium so it passes out in the urine. Since magnesium relaxes muscles, a lack of it causes muscle cramps. Low magnesium levels also raise blood pressure and decrease your energy levels. Check out my posts on magnesium deficiency and the importance of magnesium to find out more.
You obviously cannot drink Gatorade or other sugary electrolyte drinks. These drinks have high levels of sugars. Consuming them defeats the purpose of a low carb diet in the first place. So what should you drink? In a previous post we discussed important foods that you can eat to get the necessary balances of electrolytes. However, you can also make your own homemade electrolyte drink. Simply dissolve ¼ of a teaspoon of sea salt and one teaspoon of Epsom salts in as much water as you seem desirable. Add a squirt of lemon juice or your own favorite flavonoid to make the taste bearable. This drink provides enough electrolytes to make up for all of the electrolytes that are naturally excreted. You can also buy a tasty concentrated low carb electrolyte replenisher here.
You do not need to be an athlete who is constantly active to need electrolyte. The importance of electrolytes even exists with every day low carb dieters. The high amount of water necessary on a low carb diet equates to many electrolytes being washed out of the body. Consume electrolytes either through food or a homemade drink to keep necessary bodily functions working properly!