Quench Your Curiosity: Exploring Hydration and ElectrolytesFit Kitchen
Hydration is a hot topic these days and water is more popular than ever before. Lots of brands are now producing flavoured waters, seltzers and electrolyte products to compete in this growing market. Whenever a topic is popular there is bound to be some misinformation floating around. So Fit Kitchen is here to give you the facts and answer your questions about how to hydrate.
Why is it important to stay hydrated?
Your body is made up of 50-70% water by mass and water is used to carry out many essential body and cell functions. Water is used to transport nutrients, remove waste, help digestion, regulate body temperature, and absorb shocks to the body. Chronic dehydration is a common occurrence in adults and it can lead to headaches, fatigue, difficulty focussing and it increases your risk for kidney or bladder stones.
What are the symptoms of dehydration?
Dehydration can be mild, moderate or severe depending on the conditions and symptoms of each person. Mild dehydration can easily be treated at home, but moderate or severe dehydration requires IV treatment and medical attention.
The symptoms of mild dehydration can include the following:
- Headache or feeling light-headed
- Difficulty focusing
- Dark coloured urine
- Muscle Cramps
- Dry Mouth
- Dry Skin or Lips
What are the best ways to prevent dehydration?
Drinking water and other beverages throughout the day is the best way to prevent dehydration. The hormones in our body that control water and electrolyte balance tend to be slow to kick in so it’s a good idea to drink consistently throughout the day, especially if you’re exercising or out in the heat. Relying on your thirst signals can often lead to becoming dehydrated and then having to catch up later.
Keep in mind that alcohol and energy drinks can increase your risk of dehydration because they cause your body to produce more urine and absorb less water.
In general, it is recommended for women to drink about 2.2 L (9 cups) of water each day and for men to drink 3.0 L (12 cups). It can be helpful to track how much you’re drinking by using the same water bottle, glass or mug everyday.
In addition to drinking water and other beverages, electrolytes can be a helpful tool to maintain hydration. See more on electrolytes below!
What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are compounds and minerals which help regulate the chemical reactions and movement of water in our bodies. We consume electrolytes through the foods and beverages we eat and drink each day. They get filtered through our kidneys and can be lost through our urine and sweat. Some of the most abundant electrolytes in our body are sodium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Drinks like Gatorade, Pedialyte, Biosteel and coconut water contain varying levels of electrolytes and these can be purchased widely. You can also buy electrolyte powders, like the brand LMNT sold by Fit Kitchen, to mix with water or other drinks.
When should electrolytes be used?
If you drink water throughout the day and eat a balanced diet, then you are likely getting enough electrolytes to keep your body in balance. Most people already consume more than the current recommended amount of sodium each day (1,500 mg) and you can get enough potassium, magnesium and calcium from foods like fruits, vegetables and dairy. However, recommendations for salt consumption may be changing and there seems to be some controversy around this topic. If you’re interested to learn more, check out this article by our friends at LMNT: The WHO’s (Mis)Guidance on Sodium
To calculate how much sodium you consume in a normal day, try filling out this 5-minute quiz: Sodium Calculator
Consuming extra electrolytes can be helpful at times when dehydration has occurred or is likely to occur. This can be the case when you are exercising and/or sweating heavily for over an hour, when you are outside in hot weather, or when you are sick and losing fluids through vomit or diarrhea. Added electrolytes can also help you bounce back after a night of heavy drinking since alcohol can cause you to become dehydrated.
If you tend to eat a whole food diet with little processed or fast foods, your sodium intake will be lower and you may benefit more from taking an electrolyte supplement.
What is LMNT and is it a good choice for your hydration needs?
LMNT is a type of electrolyte supplement that we sell here in the Fit Kitchen Fit Shop. It contains 1000 mg of sodium, 200 mg of potassium and 60 mg of magnesium per serving and it comes in lots of delicious flavours like lime, raspberry, mango chili or watermelon. LMNT doesn’t contain any sugar, but it is sweetened with stevia so it fits easily into a low-carb or keto diet.
Sodium, potassium and magnesium are all involved in creating action potentials in our neurons which help nerve signals to travel through our body and to our muscles and brain. Dr. Andrew Huberman, a neuroscientist, professor and podcaster, recommends consuming an electrolyte supplement like LMNT before exercise and also before tasks that require a lot of brain power, like an exam or presentation. It is best to maintain hydration before exercising so that your body doesn’t have to catch up after and has enough electrolytes to perform the activity.
An Important Note …
If you’re thinking about adding an electrolyte supplement like LMNT to your daily routine, we recommend you talk to your doctor first. Those with high blood pressure are generally advised to lower their salt intake, so this product isn’t for you. However, those with low blood pressure may benefit from the added sodium and it could help improve symptoms like dizziness.
If you’re interested in learning more about salt and hydration, try listening to this interesting and educational podcast from Dr. Huberman: Using Salt to Optimize Mental & Physical Performance