Julia Fountain ND
For most people exercising moderately in hot weather, electrolyte replacement drinks are not necessary. Plain, simple water is the best hydrator, especially for children. However, with more intense and sustained exercise, work and sports in hot weather, electrolyte replacement can be helpful. There are 5 electrolytes we consider: calcium, potassium, magnesium, sodium, chloride. They’re lost through sweat and they work to prevent muscle cramping, dizziness, fatigue and they regulate pH.
So here’s a look at 4 strategies to replace electrolytes:
Gatorade G2 (8 oz) – has 50 calories, 100 mg sodium, 30 mg potassium, 14 grams carbohydrate (mainly from high fructose corn syrup and glucose syrup), artificial flavours and colours.
V8 (8 oz) – has 50 calories, 640 mg sodium (low sodium version has 140 mg), 470 mg potassium, 40 mg calcium, 10 grams carbohydrate (naturally occurring in the vegetables)
Coconut water (8 oz) – has 46 calories, 252 mg sodium, 600 mg potassium, 60 mg calcium and 12 grams carbohydrate (naturally occurring in the coconut water) and usually natural flavours added
Bio-Steel (1 scoop added to 8 oz water) – has 5 calories, 140 mg sodium, 30 mg potassium, 1 gram carbohydrate, 12.5 mg calcium,5.5 mg magnesium, zinc, B vitamins, amino acids, stevia, and naturally coloured with beet juice
So how do you decide? If you’re watching carbohydrates, Bio-Steel is the best option. However I don’t recommend it for kids or teens without a dose titration based on age and size. Bio-Steel relies on amino acid fueling vs glucose fueling made popular by traditional electrolyte replacement drinks such as Gatorade. A healthier alternative for kids is coconut water – a small portion – even 1/2 cup (4 oz) provides carbohydrate, and generous potassium levels. V8 can also be used for potassium repletion, but it comes with a high sodium level (low sodium V8 could be used). Unfortunately the ingredient quality in Gatorade leaves much to be desired – too many artificial colours and refined sugars, though in a pinch and on occasion it can get the job done.