Summertime Fitness – Hydration and Electrolytes

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With summer officially in full swing, it’s prime time to address hydration and specifically clear up some confusion about electrolytes; what they are, where they come from and America’s “drinking problem” of turning to sports drinks as a source. 

What are Electrolytes?

Chemically, electrolytes are either positively or negatively charged particles that, much like ends of a magnet, either attract or repel each other and other particles within the body. This quality helps regulate many processes, most importantly transport across cellular membranes.

Huh?

Let’s drop the science for a bit and drop some real life knowledge on what this means. Think of the last time you were out at the club. Most likely there was security at the door regulating who came in and how fast the line moved (membrane transport.) Once inside, additional staff patrol the floor helping maintain the cool in the club (homeostasis), as well as escorting out those who have had a little too much to drink and have worn out their welcome (metabolic wastes) and those who never should have been allowed to enter in the first place like the creep on the corner with the sunglasses yellin for more Jagah’bombs (free radicals and other foreign substances.) Frequently, the club will reach capacity and the rate new patrons are allowed to enter is strictly regulated and based on the frequency and volume of guests exiting. The club owners want enough guests in the club to ensure maximum profitability, but not so many that other guests or over crowded or that the club itself becomes unsafe. This is a perfect example of the sodium-potassium pumps that play a huge roll in homeostasis within the cells by ensuring that sufficient nutrients enter to maintain cellular function, but not allowing the cellular membrane to burst from excessive intracellular pressure.

The Sports Drink Dilemma…

Sports drinks such as Gatorade, Powerade, Vitamin Water and others typically are misbelieved to be the best source of electrolytes and rehydration. While they can work and even be recommended in extreme circumstances for athletes that perform at a very high intensity as well as emergency situations of dehydration and malnourishment, for the rest of us there is one answer to staying hydrated and rehydrating, WATER. First and foremost, like most other nutrients, if your diet and lifestyle are balanced, you are getting sufficient electrolytes from the foods you eat. To rehydrate, you simply need to drink more water, period.

water

It is pretty common knowledge that Gatorade and Powerade are loaded with sugar and other nasties. But Vitamin Water is one of the most deliberately misleading products on the market. Reading the label you don’t have to look very far to see that sugar is the second ingredient listed. But wait, it only says it has 13 grams, is that so bad? Look again, that’s 13 grams per serving. At 2.5 servings per bottle that most people drink easily in one sitting, that’s 32.5 grams of sugar per bottle, right up there with many soft drinks. Keep reading and you see many of the same acidic ingredients that with the sugar contribute to tooth decay and other metabolic issues.

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Electrolytes in Food…

Sodium and chloride are found together in foods as NaCl (aka salt) and work mainly in the body as discussed above to maintain fluid balance and cellular function. Common foods containing sodium and chloride are beef, pork, cured meats like sardines, cheese, olives and other pickled items. If you are still eating processed foods, most are made with additional salt, like in the case of deli meats, chips and other snacks, nuts, butter, margarine, mayonnaise and many condiments.

Potassium is found in lots of fruits and veggies,  especially green leafy ones like spinach, turnip greens, collard greens and kale, the obvious favorite bananas, tomatoes, oranges, melons, potatoes and sweet potatoes, prunes, raisins, peas and beans. Potassium also helps to regulate blood pressure and prevent bone loss and kidney stones as well as its work in cellular function.

Magnesium, like the others is found in green leafy veggies as well as nuts, legumes and tomatoes. This powerhouse electrolyte also supports bone and teeth development, nerve and muscle function and the activation of enzymes in the body thus supporting other necessary functions in the body.

Hungry for More?

Jump over to Motility Training for Tom Holland’s 6 HOT Tips for Cool Summer Workouts

8 Dirty Little Paleo Secrets You Need to Know… By Allison Golden

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I’m sure Robb Wolf has a few. And Sarah Fragoso. Even Mark Sisson likely has one or two. Possibly several.

Get your mind out of the gutter, people — I’m talking about paleo secrets.

With their ripped bodies, strength and apparent ability to resist the sugar, these paleo celebrities already appear to have everything down. They’ve reached the paleo heights and sometimes it feels they are looking down upon us as we struggle, sweating and panting, up the mountainside – one they’ve already scaled.

Sugar – but pass on the wheat

But I’m betting they have off days or moments, like us, when it’s harder to stay with the program. Mark has a penchant for Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. And Sarah’s been clear about the stuttering start to her journey to health and strength. Robb isn’t against the odd dessert or sugary item (as long as you stay away from the wheat!)

So why don’t we look like them? What stops us from achieving our goals – whether it’s to lose a hundred pounds, bench press a hundred pounds or earn a hundred thousand pounds – while they achieve theirs?

We all wonder from time to time if there’s some thing, some piece of information, some data or statistic we’re missing. A piece of magic that would make all the difference to our success, if only we knew what it was.

Adopting paleo can change your life. Many, many people are testimony to that. They write to me every day and tell me. They have achieved success, not perfection, and certain attitudes, mindsets and skills helped them get there.

If you’re wondering about starting this whole paleo thing, or gearing up for the next level, but hesitating, here are some things you should know. Robb, Sarah and Mark clearly do.

Dirty Little Secret #1. You don’t have to accept rejection…

Many people never to try to hit their goals because they think someone might not like it. Maybe, for you, the fear of rejection is real. Both Tara and Orleatha acknowledged that they lost friends when they lost a huge amount of weight, but their stories prove you gain so much more that makes the change worth it.

Thing is, no gain is without loss – that’s another secret. But in the large scale of things going for your paleo goals will give you so much more than you’ll lose that you’ll come out the winner. You might end up losing some friends, but you’ll gain so much more, including new ones.

Dirty Little Secret #2. You don’t have to accept failure, or even mediocrity…

The feeling of failure is hard to bear. You know, that sinking, embarrassed, hopeless feeling. The one that makes you want to sit on the couch and eat your way through a chocolate bar the size of a small country. And then another one.

Nothing in life is without risk. Not sitting on the couch (the ceiling of the apartment above might fall on you,) or eating chocolate to numb the pain (you might get diabetes, at the very least a sugar hangover) and certainly not success. It is your choice. You choose. Which risk would you rather take? The positive, healthy one, or the one that will allow you to rule in a world made of chocolate? Then persist. Persist, persist, persist.Persist, persist, persist.

Dirty Little Secret #3. You can learn everything you need to know…

Many people look at paleo, or just getting healthy, and get completely overwhelmed. They run away saying they’re too confused, or it’s too hard.

You know, what? There’s a learning curve. Being successful at paleo is a lot like when you learned a new skill, started a business or a new job. It doesn’t happen just like that.

The secret is to realize that while the outcome – your life and body design – may well be a work of art, there is much to be learned about the process. Grand masters weren’t grand or masters when they first picked up a paintbrush. They had to learn from others who’d made the journey before them and practice, practice, practice. They learned from their mistakes and picked themselves up to start over when they made them.

You too, sunshine.

Dirty Little Secret #4. You have to do the work…

Even if you read the books, subscribe to the blogs, make up the meal plans and join the gym, you still have to do something.

How many times have you come up with ideas, made a promise to yourself, been full of great intentions, then not followed through? This is called dreaming.

People can advise, point you in the right direction, tell you what to do. But no-one can do it for you. You’re on your own on that one.

When you know that you — and only you — will be responsible for your outcome, whatever you choose that to be, that’s when you experience the independence to take charge of your life.

The key is to think of the outcome, and the actions that will get you there before you make any commitments or plans. And then do them.

Dirty Little Secret #5. You don’t have to do what other people tell you…

Do you read the paleo gurus? Have you had friends who are now half their size tell you the secret to their success? Have you ever watched “The Biggest Loser” or followed a diet plan religiously.

There is comfort in following ‘rules.’ We don’t have to think. And we can blame someone else if it all goes wrong.

By all means, take ideas (‘steal’ them as Dean Dwyer says) from the experts and apply what makes sense for you, what works for you in your life. But cherry pick, choose those suggestions that jive with your life, and, for pete’s sake, go at your own speed. This isn’t a race. If slow’s your speed, it’s your speed. Own it; work it, baby. The tortoise and the hare, remember?

Dirty Little Secret #6. Your community will help you…

If you’re here reading this, you’re on the paleo curve. Somewhere along it, anyway.

Surround yourself with supportive elements – paleo blogs, forums, books, food. Limit your exposure to those people, foods and activities you’re in the process of eliminating from your life.

Find a community to support you in your efforts. Ask, ask, and ask again. Don’t be shy, people will help, if you but ask. Find friends in real life who think like you do and move on from those who sabotage you, or ignore you when you don’t play their game.

Dirty Little Secret #7. You need to spend some time and/or money…

As noted above, going paleo is like learning a new skill. And when did you last learn a new skill without investing some time and money? My guess is almost never.

You will need to read blogs, buy the odd book (or get them from the library,) attend a seminar, purchase a cooking tool or three, change where and how you shop.

It doesn’t have to be a lot and you don’t need to do it often but you need to accept that these investments are part of your paleo process.

Dirty Little Secret #8: You will feel resistance at many points…

Everyone feels some level of “I don’t wanna” over paleo at some point. It would be inhuman to feel otherwise.

In the brilliant book, The War of Art, author Steven Pressfield talks about resistance and how it only occurs when we’re about to engage in something that will cause us to grow.

I struggle with paleo resistance all the time! Nothing would please me more than to eat a tub of chocolate-covered almonds on a regular basis. Like, daily.

Resistance happens. It’s part of the process to becoming a healthier person. If it’s not food, it’s exercise. If not exercise, it’s asking the cute girl out at the coffee shop. Resistance doesn’t go away. You’re stuck with it. See it as a signpost, pointing the way you should be going. Go that way and move on.
From our friends at Paleo NonPaleo