Electrolyte Drinks

Narayani Karthik Mar 25, 2019
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Electrolyte drinks are a part of oral rehydration therapy, when the body needs to be replenished with the required amount of salt and water. Though electrolytes are available in various health food stores, these drinks can also be made at home.
Whenever you fall sick, and suffer from excessive vomiting and diarrhea, your doctor immediately suggests you to drink electrolyte. These drinks are an instant source of energy, which aids in rapid hydration of the dehydrated body. Electrolytes are a must for athletes, as they are bound to experience instant dehydration and fatigue after rigorous exercises.
An electrolyte, in Chemistry, is defined as a solution, which contains free ions (atoms where the number of electrons and protons are not same) that makes it electrically conductive. The simplest example of an electrolyte is salt dissolved in water.
What happens when you put salt in water? It immediately dissolves through a process called solvation. Electrolyte drinks derive their property of energy release from the simple solvation process. The most naturally found healthy electrolytic drinks are fruit and vegetable juices.

Importance of Electrolytes

A simple electrolytic drink comprises salt, sugar, minerals (like sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium), and water. Most of the sports drinks that are consumed today are electrolyte drinks. They are a must for all those indulging in intense physical activities like sports.
American College of Sports Medicine recommends that a sportsperson must consume 17 ounces of these energy drinks 2 hrs prior to exercising, to prevent dehydration. They hydrate the body enough to sustain throughout the workout. Intake of fluids at regular intervals while exercising is advised to retain the body fluid, which is lost rapidly through sweating.
The carbohydrates found in sports drinks provide energy, which aid in delaying muscle fatigue, experienced after the workout session. Minerals like, sodium, potassium, and chlorides, are often lost through sweat. Electrolytes compensate for this loss by restoring the requisite minerals in the body.

Best Electrolytic Drinks

Isotonic Drinks

Isotonic electrolytic drinks are water based fluids, which contain glucose and fructose in a concentration of 6-8%. These are the best choice for most athletes, who are involved in long distance running. These drinks immediately supplement the body with enough fluid.

Hypotonic Drinks

Hypotonic drinks contain less than 8% carbohydrate and mineral content, in comparison to the normal body fluids. These drinks are best for everyday consumption after a daily exercise routine, as they are low in calories.
The fluid content of these drinks is instantly absorbed by the intestines, thereby maintaining a normal fluid balance in the body. Jockeys and gymnasts consume hypotonic drinks to hydrate and energize their bodies.

Hypertonic Drinks

These drinks have more carbs than the other two kinds. This electrolyte drink is consumed during heavy training exercises and ultra distance events. Since, they have a high concentration of carbohydrates, they always have to be consumed along with the isotonic drinks to compensate for the absorption of fluids by the body.

Homemade Electrolyte Drinks

Every electrolyte drink necessarily contains sodium, potassium, sugar, and water. An 8 oz of a sports drink also contains about 110 mg of sodium and 30 mg of potassium, which is required by the body.
However, if you are too diet conscious, and you do not want to consume too much of sugar, as your physical activities are not very engaging, then suit yourself with this homemade energy drink.
All you need is plain water (8 oz), lemon juice (2 tablespoons), a pinch of salt, and sugar-free flavoring essence (like Torino and Da vinci). Mix these ingredients together and get yourself a healthy, homemade energy drink without sugar.
Electrolyte drinks are essential in maintaining mineral balance in the body. These drinks are an indispensable item for sportspeople. Due to their rigorous physical activities, their fluid level and mineral concentration reduces faster. Low sodium levels in the body can lead to hyponatremia.
Extreme medical conditions can occur, if the electrolyte imbalance symptoms are ignored. To restore the lost minerals and fluids, electrolyte drinks are a must. And as always, a healthy diet containing lot of green vegetables and fruits must also be consumed on daily basis.