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Whole Gourmet Natural Cooking

Alison Anton's Natural Cooking Blog offers healthy recipes, inspirational food articles and culinary advice for the natural chef, and features dessert recipes from her upcoming cookbook, Desserts for Every Body.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Electrolytes for Energy and Endurance

Just as a battery needs a charge to run a machine, muscles need an electrical charge to make our machines run. This surge is produced by electrolytes, special minerals that create polarity for the cells. When electrolytes are depleted, the body may feel like it's running on half-power: muscles will respond sluggishly, and an overall sense of fatigue and weakness will triumph over stamina and energy.

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Who needs them?

Fitness enthusiasts are gangbusters for electrolytes. They know from experience that when they take electrolytes before and after exercise, they can go longer, work harder and feel good about it, without being depleted afterward. Since electrolytes also ease muscle cramping (Murray, 1996), these minerals are affable companions for runners, swimmers, skiers, cyclists, or even "weekend warriors".

We all need them. Without proper electrolyte intake, we become lethargic and can't quite see the possibilities beyond the couch. Even our minds become listless; studies show that electrolyte depletion can have an affect upon overall mood and depression (PubMed, 2008). Depletion of electrloytes happens with improper diet, physical activity, excessive sweating or vomiting.

Where do I get them?

Electrolyte minerals include potassium, sodium and chloride. Any food that is high in these minerals (especially potassium) is a good source, and should be included more frequently into the diet. Good food sources for potassium are: potatoes, prunes, bananas, raisins, coconut, and blackstrap molasses (Balch, 2003).

Electrolyte drinks are recommended to bring energy before or after exercise. Skip over the commercial ones colored with blue and red dyes. Try these instead:

Alcer ElectroMix - A powdered, fizzing drink mix in small handy pouches that can be tucked neatly into a purse or workout bag. Find it in the supplements section at natural foods stores.

Coconut Juice - One of the best all-natural sources for potassium, coconut juice is becoming quite popular at natural foods stores and can be purchased in 8-12 ounce aceptic packages (perfect for workout bags).

Knudsen ReCharge Sports Drink - This natural drink is made from real fruit juice with supplemental electrolytes; a good alternative to commercial sports drinks with high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors.


Electro Granola - Alison Anton
Store in your car, workout bag or hip pack for a quick "emergency" electrolyte fix...

Banana Nut "Sushi" Rolls - Johanna Healy, Bauman College Natural Chef Student
Not just for kids, these potassium-packed snacks are a perfect on-the-go energy booster before or after a workout...

1. Murray, Michael. Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements. New York. Three Rivers Press. 1996.
2. Dietary electrolytes are related to mood. PubMed. 2008 May 9:1-8.
3. Balch, Phyllis. Prescription for Dietary Wellness. New York. Avery. 2003.


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