The Benefits Of Electrolytes And When To Have Them

You may have come across these bright coloured drinks in the store before that range from blue to green and every other colour in the rainbow. They all claim to help you with physical performance and recovery. You may have picked this drink up to help with muscle recovery after a workout or maybe you are getting over the flu or another health condition. The real question is, are electrolyte drinks beneficial and worth all of the hype?

Many dieticians whom I have spoken with and research papers I have read have all mentioned that there is a time and place for them, but they can be beneficial.

What Is An Electrolyte And When Should I Drink Them?

Electrolytes are natural minerals that are found within your body, and their job is to regulate and control the fluids within your body. The job of electrolytes is to keep your overall system functioning along with regulating blood pressure and muscle contractions. There are three big electrolytes in the body:

  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Sodium

You need to have the right amount of electrolytes in your body to have optimal functioning and performance. You can actually make your own electrolyte drink at home, but more on that later.

You will need to consume electrolytes through diet when these minerals are diminished within your body due to intense exercising, sweating, vomiting or diarrhea. Any amount of excessive fluid lost in your body at one time will call for consuming more electrolytes. The reason for this is your body at this point will be dehydrated, which in turn can cause muscle spasms and cramping to occur (this is usually one of the major signs in your body that you are dehydrated, next to extreme thirst).

How Do I Know If I Am Dehydrated?

Regardless if you know it or not, we have all been dehydrated at some point in our lives. There are many symptoms of dehydration such as dry lips and tongue, headaches, weakness, dizziness, nausea and cramps. However, the biggest teller of dehydration is thirst. If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

Depending on how much intensity, fitness level, weight, humidity, duration of exercise and how much you sweat will vary how many electrolytes you lose during activity. The main electrolyte lost is sodium, even though sodium sometimes gets a bad rep, it is essential to help us retain fluids. Any type of sweating regardless of whether it is from exercise or from being sick, if you lose enough fluids you will become dehydrated.

An easy way to know how hydrated or dehydrated you are is by paying attention to your urine colour when you go to the bathroom. Also, paying attention to how many times you do have to go to the bathroom in the day. Chances are if you only have to pee 1-2 times a day, you’re not getting enough fluids in. A typical person that is staying hydrated will have to pee at least 6-7 times a day, but can range from 4-10 times as well depending on the person and if they have any other underlying health conditions that may be effecting their frequency to go to the bathroom.

What colour should my urine be?

As I mentioned, another way to know if you are hydrated enough is by paying attention to your urine colour. “Normal urine colour ranges from pale yellow to deep amber — the result of a pigment called urochrome and how diluted or concentrated the urine is. Pigments and other compounds in certain foods and medications can change your urine colour. Beets, berries and fava beans are among the foods most likely to affect the colour.”1 When you’re healthy and hydrated, your urine should fall somewhere between colourless and the colour of light straw and honey. When you don’t consume enough fluids, your urine becomes more concentrated and turns a darker yellow or amber colour.

Use this chart to refer to in order to have a better idea if you are hydrated or not:

Remember, we are not camels, we are meant to go to the bathroom multiple times a day to urinate. Some may find they “don’t have time” to go to the bathroom multiple times a day and so they purposely to not drink enough fluids. I think the benefits of staying hydrated throughout the day outweighs the “inconvenience” of having to go to the bathroom. You will stay focused, your skin will be more clear, and your body will overall function at its highest optimal level if you stay consistently hydrated throughout the day. Humans are mostly water at an average of 60% but can range up to 75% of our body. Why wouldn’t you want to stay hydrated with all of the benefits it brings us?

What Electrolyte Drink Should I Get?

There are all kinds of electrolyte drink options on the market nowadays. Ones that are in tablet form, powder form and ones that are already mixed into drinks that are ready to go. Which one you decide to go with is really all about preference and convenience. It’s nice to have the tablet and powder forms to take with you to the gym or on a hike when you don’t know for sure if you will need them or not, but you also don’t want to carry the extra weight of the liquid outside of regular water. However, if you are short on time and need electrolytes mixed for you in a liquid form, such as when you are travelling, then the premade drinks are for you!

A word of caution though, not all of the electrolyte drinks are made equal. Therefore, you must first decide if and how much you need. If you are working out for an hour or less, regular H2O will do and there is no need for a substitute. But if you are exercising for upwards of 75 min or more, especially on a particularly hot day, then a drink with electrolytes is a great idea to have during or after your workout.

Usually, a typical 8-ounce electrolyte drink has approximately 14 grams of sugar, 100 milligrams of sodium and 30 milligrams of potassium. You can even find drinks that are specifically for high endurance or ultra-endurance athletes with a higher amount of potassium and sodium along with other minerals like magnesium and calcium. Do keep in mind that these drinks are really high in sugar usually, so if you are going to be having multiple of them a day, try to choose the ones that are low-calorie or zero sugar. You should also look out for the drinks claiming any added immunity or high vitamin claims as they usually do not contain any electrolytes so they will not help with hydration in particular.

What’s The Deal With Coconut Water?

You may have heard that coconut water is a good substitute for regular sports drinks. This is partially true as coconut water does have a nutrient composition similar to traditional sports drinks, but they do differ in significant ways. The key nutrients for longer workouts are carbohydrates and sodium, however, regular or unsweetened coconut water has a fewer amount of these nutrients. Coconut water is an all-natural electrolyte drink alternative to your regular tap water, but it does have more calories and if it is sweetened it will have a much higher amount of sugar. The recommendation for athletes who are working out for a long period of time is to stick with the regular sports drinks as it will ensure proper hydration for maximum performance and recovery. But again, if you are drinking more than one of these drinks a day, I would opt for the low-sugar version of these drinks as they do contain a high amount of sugar. Always read your nutrition labels and research which drink is best for you.

How To Make A Homemade Electrolyte Drink

If you want to save yourself a lot of cash, you can make your own electrolyte drink at home with a few simple ingredients.

  • 1/2 cup orange juice (you can do freshly squeezed or orange juice from the store, but be sure it is 100% oranges, nothing added)
  • 1/4 cup lime or lemon juice (same as the point above straight from the produce itself or 100% the juice and nothing else)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1-2 tbsp of honey or maple syrup (this all depends on how sweet you like it)
  • 1/8 tsp salt

By adding the orange juice and the lemon or lime juice, you will also be adding the extra minerals of magnesium and calcium along with potassium as well.

If You Are Looking For A Store Bought Electrolyte Recommendation…

I would suggest the Organika Electroylytes And Enhanced Collagen. I am not suggesting this company because I am an affiliate, but because I know it works. This powder has the three main electrolyte ingredients you need to rehydrate – magnesium 60mg, potassium 175mg and sodium 440mg. It also has the added benefit of collagen, which contains protein, and you need protein to help with muscle recovery after activity. On the added benefit, it conains no sugar!

On a nutrition stand point this powder is great to rehydrate you with all of it’s electrolyte properties, but it is not a nutritional supplement for after a workout. It is low in carbohydrates and has 5g of protein, after a workout you will need at least 10-20g of protein depending on your body weight. So if you are looking for a great electrolyte drink, this is may be the one for you! And remember as mentioned above, you only need electrolytes on a really hot day, if you have been sweating a lot, after the flu, or with 75 min+ amount of physical activity.

I recently just had a glutening experience at a restaurant and because I am celiac this threw my immune system through a loop. Usually after an exposure like this, all we can do is stay hydrated and let it run its course. I have been drinking this supplement to help with recovery as I had extreme sharp pain and muscle contractions in my gut, and as mentioned above electrolytes help in rehydration. But I find with it’s added benefit of collagen, this may help with gut repair as collagen has been shown to help with gut healing.

If you are wanting to give it a try, I have a 25% off code! Click the link above and use LEWSLIFE25 at the checkout.

Please Keep This Disclaimer in Mind:

Articles are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot and do not provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness.

You must not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.

You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on our website.

It is your responsibility to consult with your professional health care providers before starting any diet changes, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking; varying the dosage and / or ceasing to take any medication.

We do not collect any personal information or store cookies.  You can turn off cookies on your web browsers.

References:

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urine-color/symptoms-causes/syc-20367333


T’s and Y’s

LOVE this exercise!

This targets the mid traps, lower traps and rhomboids. Great for shoulder stabilization and strength. It is also fantastic for re-education of the muscle firing patterns within the body and decrease the upper traps from doing everything and causing neck and shoulder pain.

Thumbs up and in a T position = Mid Trap

Thumbs down and in a T position = Rhomboids

Thumbs up and in a Y position = Lower Traps

Proper Form:

Laying on the ground roll up a towel and place it under your forehead so you can breathe without having to turn your head to one side, this will help prevent a strain in your neck. Arms at shoulder height and thumbs up – lift your arms up and squeeze your shoulder blades together (you should feel this in your mid back). Then in the same ’T’ position, put your thumbs down and lift your arms up off the ground (you should feel this in your mid back). The last position is in a ‘Y’ position, put your thumbs up and lift your arms off the ground (you should feel this in your mid to lower back).

Music from: https://www.bensound.com

Once you become really good at this exercise you can then add tension from a resistance band and do this exercise standing up (such as what you can see in the attached video below).

IMPORTANT: Be sure you are contracting your shoulders back and down with a chin tuck before each repetition, it is important to be firing the right muscles with this exercise. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you go into the resistance, this may help to decrease over firing of the upper traps. You should not feel this exercise in your upper neck or into your head, if you do, reset your shoulder blades and chin tuck and try again.

Please Keep This Disclaimer in Mind:

Articles are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot and do not provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness.

You must not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.

You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on our website.

It is your responsibility to consult with your professional health care providers before starting any diet changes, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking; varying the dosage and / or ceasing to take any medication.

We do not collect any personal information or store cookies.  You can turn off cookies on your web browsers.


Squat, because no one raps about little butts

This month’s exercise is a squat. This is a fantastic all around full body exercise that is very functional for everyday life. Have I convinced you yet to give it a try?

Targets: quadriceps. Also incorporates: gluteus maximus, aductor magnus, soleus, hamstrings, gastrocnemius, erector spinae, rectus abdominis, obliques.

How To: Squat down by bending your hips back, as if you are sitting in a chair, while allowing knees to bend forward being sure to not extend them too far past the toes, keeping your back straight and knees pointed same direction as feet (towards the 2nd and 3rd toes). Descend until thighs are just past parallel to floor. Extend knees and hips until legs are straight. Return and repeat. 

Important to keep in mind: Keep your head facing forward, back straight and feet flat on floor; equal distribution of weight throughout forefoot and heel. Knees should point same direction as feet throughout movement. Core engaged, shoulders back and down with chin tucked and squeeze your glutes on the way back up. Once you add a bar, DO NOT place the bar on the back of your neck, be sure it is placed on the top of your shoulders (feel for the ‘shelf’).

What do I do with my hands? Well, this depends on how you are doing the squat.

If you are doing a body weight squat, you can put them out in front of you or cross your arms over your chest. If you are doing the exercise with a dowel or the squat bar, place the dowel behind you placed on your shoulders, NOT your neck, and have your hands equally on both sides holding the bar in place.

Once you start to become a natural at this exercise then you can start switching it up by changing how and where you hold the squat bar (i.e. front squat vs. back squat), you can bring in different gym equipment like a barbell or kettlebell, or change the positioning of your feet and legs. There is just so much you can do, isn’t it so exciting?!

This is a great all around exercise to become comfortable and familiar with. Give it a try today with your body weight alone, then add in a dowel, and finally progress to a squat bar as your biomechanics improve.


You’re everthing I ‘avo’ wanted

Avocados

Some quick fun facts about this amazing fruit:

  • Avocados are a heart-healthy, nutrient-dense superfood and are loaded with monounsaturated fatty acids
  • They contain good fats and are naturally sodium, sugar and cholesterol-free
  • Avocados have dietary fibre. Fun fact, fibre is very important for overall gut health
  • They contain more potassium then bananas
  • The healthy fat content found in them may help you absorb nutrients from plant foods
  • They are loaded with antioxidants that can protect your eyes
  • An avocado MAY help with preventing cancer
  • Avocado extract MAY help to relieve symptoms of arthritis
  • Eating this amazing fruit MAY help to shed some weight

In a 100g serving of avocado, there is 160 calories, 2 grams of protein and 15 grams of healthy fats. It contains 9 grams of carbs, and 7 of those are fibre.

All in all, this is an amazing source of nutrients and it is delicious to boot! So give one a try before it is too late…get it? Maybe this photo will help you:

Please Keep This Disclaimer in Mind:

This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness. You must consult with your professional health care provider before starting any diet changes, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking, varying the dosage of or ceasing to take any medication.


Athletic Therapy vs. Physiotherapy: Is there a difference?

In the world of healthcare professionals, it can get confusing as to what each one specializes in and what kind of treatment you may receive from them. The two most common distinct healthcare professions that are confused with each other are Athletic Therapy and Physiotherapy. Both are trained in musculoskeletal rehabilitation and assessment, and have a few differences.

Athletic therapists are focused solely on musculoskeletal disorders and injuries, and can be found working in a clinic setting or with a team. Meanwhile, physiotherapists have a wider scope of practice which encompasses neurological and cardiovascular health issues as well as musculoskeletal, and can be found working both the hospital setting and in outpatient clinics. Both professions will complete a thorough assessment of your injury, and provide education, complete manual therapy techniques and provide therapeutic exercises for you to complete at home. They will help manage both acute and chronic injuries, all the while maintaining a high professional standard of care for all of their patients.

You do not need a referral from a doctor to see either an AT or physio, however you should always check with your extended healthcare provider to see if you are covered, as different providers cover different therapies.

Shared skills and knowledge of each profession:Shared treatment approaches of each profession:
1) Assessment and diagnosis of injuries
2) Treat sport injuries, work injuries, MVA’s, and life injuries
3) Rehabilitation and exercise programs are included with the treatment plan of all injuries
4) Educate patients in management of acute and chronic injuries
1) Soft tissue manipulation and joint mobilizations
2) Preventative taping and
Electrotherapy training (NMES, TENS, IFC, ultrasound, heat and ice, etc)
3) Exercise prescription (strength, flexibility, mobility, and proprioception)
4) Biomechanics analysis
5) Patient Education

Athletic Therapy

Athletic Therapists are experts in musculoskeletal disorders and injuries. This is accomplished after a highly demanding 4 year program, at an applicable university, to achieve a degree of Bachelor of Applied Health Sciences. This program focuses primarily on rehabilitation, assessment, prevention and restoring of the musculoskeletal system through maintaining and maximizing the bodies movement to relieve pain and increase your quality of life. Following this program there is an intense national certification exam of a written and practical that must be passed in order to work in Canada as a Certified Athletic Therapist. They are typically found working in a clinical setting or with a sports team in a field setting providing emergency care.

It is very common to have the name give a false representation of who they can treat. They do specialize in athletes as the name provides, but they are also trained in MVA’s (motor vehicle accidents), work injuries (the industrial athlete), post-operation, and everyday aches and pains.

The regulating body of the profession is the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association (CATA) and each province across Canada has a provincial chapter as well.

The definition of the profession provided by the national association is as follows:

“Certified Athletic Therapists are best known for their quick-thinking on-field emergency care of professional and elite athletes. The first to respond when someone gets hurt, they are experts at injury assessment and rehabilitation. It’s that same mix of on-site care and active rehabilitation skills that makes Athletic Therapists so effective in treating the musculoskeletal (muscles, bones, and joints) injuries of all Canadians, whether on the field or in the clinic.

Athletic therapists adhere to the Sports Medicine Model of care. They treat a wide range of patients, from kids with concussions to seniors recovering from hip replacement surgery, using various manual therapies, modalities, exercise prescription and even bracing and taping. The treatment varies but the objective doesn’t: an Athletic Therapist’s goal is to help clients return to their usual activities, whether that means playing competitive sports or walking to the mailbox and back.”

More information can be found on their website: https://athletictherapy.org/en.

Physiotherapy

Physiotherapists help restore movement and function when someone is affected by injury, illness or disability. They accomplish this through movement and exercise, manual therapy, and patient education. Physiotherapist’s in Canada complete a 4 year undergrad and then proceed into a 2 year masters of Physiotherapy, followed by an intense certification exam. Their formal education focuses on the study of neurology, cardiorespiratory and orthopaedics.

They are typically found working in private clinics, hospitals, retirement residences and child development centres. Physiotherapists in Canada work with clients of all ages and with a wide range of health conditions. Physiotherapists tend to specialize in a certain area of practice, which can include working with patients who have had strokes or other neurological injuries, paediatrics, women’s health, oncology rehab, in intensive care units and other inpatient settings as well as common musculoskeletal injuries.

The definition of Physiotherapy from the Canadian Physiotherapy Association:

“The heart of the physiotherapy profession is understanding how and why movement and function take place. Physiotherapists are highly skilled and autonomous health professionals who provide safe, quality client-centred physiotherapy through a commitment to service availability, accessibility and excellence. The profession is shaped by scientific evidence and the education and competencies of the physiotherapists delivering the services. Physiotherapy is grounded in the belief that, to be effective, its services must respond to the changing needs of populations and our health system.”

More information can be found at their website: https://physiotherapy.ca/description-physiotherapy. Here you can find a document on the detailed description of Physiotherapy.

Summary

With a few small differences in the two professions, both are a great resource for injury prevention, treatment and education. The largest difference is the scope of practice of a physiotherapist includes cardiovascular and neurological training along with the ability to pierce the skin through extra training in IMS (intermuscular stimulation) and acupuncture, which is not included in the scope of practice of an Athletic Therapist. However, both are experts in helping you recover from your injuries and getting you back to doing what you love!