Gatorade is a popular drink targeted at athletes to replace electrolytes lost when exercising. It is crucial for electrolytes in your body to stay within a specific range to avoid health complications. Thus, when exercising it is key to not only rehydrate but to consume electrolytes to replace the ones that were lost. The most electrolytes to replace are sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, chloride, and bicarbonate. However, it is worth mentioning Gatorade is also very high in sugar. In fact, one 20-ounce bottle contains 35 grams of sugar. So, with this in mind, below are several healthy Gatorade alternatives to consider for electrolyte replacement.
This clear liquid found inside a coconut is a great electrolyte replacement containing sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Coconut water has become increasingly popular over the past few years and is easy to find in any grocery store. As it is naturally low in sugar, it is a healthier alternative to Gatorade for rehydration. Plus it is light enough that it can be consumed during or after a workout.
Making a smoothie is a great way to replace lost electrolytes. In fact, some of the best sources of electrolytes are whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and dairy. Try to use various ingredients in your smoothie for the best recovery. For example a banana, strawberry, spinach, and milk smoothie or a mixed berry, kale, flaxseed, and coconut water smoothie. Keep in mind, smoothies are often a heavier drink choice, thus may not be suitable during a workout. However, they are great afterward.
One of the cheapest and most convenient ways to replace electrolytes is with electrolyte tablets. Simply drop the tablet into water and stir until dissolved. These tablets come in a variety of fruit flavors and are easy to buy online. Most will contain sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, though quantities vary per brand. Additionally, some electrolyte tablets contain caffeine, so be aware of this when selecting a brand.
Like coconut water, this is an all-natural electrolyte replacement. To make watermelon juice you simply blend and strain the fruit. A single cup of watermelon juice provides almost 6% of the magnesium and potassium your body needs daily. It also offers small amounts of calcium and phosphorus. The only drawback of watermelon juice is the lack of sodium. However, this can be alleviated by making an electrolyte drink of juice, water, and salt.
Cow’s milk is a solid option to replace electrolytes. In fact, milk contains calcium, sodium, and potassium. Whole, low-fat, and skim milk all contain these electrolytes so you can choose whichever you prefer. However, if you are lactose intolerant, you can opt for lactose-free cow's milk to get the same benefits. For vegans, soy milk offers a similar electrolyte profile to cow’s milk. Like smoothies, this may not be the best option during a workout but is great after.
Often marketed at children, Pedialyte is great for rehydration and replacing electrolytes. It contains sodium, chloride, and potassium and contains just 9 grams of sugar. However, be aware that the flavored options contain artificial sweeteners.
Ensuring your body has enough electrolytes is simple if you eat a balanced, nutrient-rich diet. However, exercise will always mean you are becoming dehydrated and losing electrolytes. However, replacing these electrolytes and rehydrating is easy using one of the healthy Gatorade alternatives above.