Last month, as I was training for Around the Bay, I set up a nutrition consultation with my friend Kennedy who you’ve heard about before on this blog. I was hoping she could give me some tips on how to optimize my current diet for all the running I’ve been doing. After writing a food journal for a few days, she identified one major, gaping hole in my nutrition plan: I was not taking in any electrolytes on my long runs.
On runs more than 10km, I usually bring my fuel belt along, but I always fill it with water. She informed me that for runs over an hour, it’s important to take in a combination of water, carbohydrates and electrolytes – a combo of sodium and potassium – that helps your body retain fluid.
So I started experimenting with different varieties and have come up with a list of electrolyte options that are both hydrating and delicious.
Miranda’s “Light” Gatorade
I don’t particularly love Gatorade, but when you’re in the market for a sports drink, this one seems to be the most obvious and the most accessible. I find it too sweet. Syrupy even. So, I started watering it down – one part water, one part Gatorade. I find it still does the trick of a solid sports drink, without tasting like blue syrup.
I was recently introduced to these excellent little tablets a few weeks ago. Nuun (prounouced Noon) are self-dissolving tablets that are completely sugar free. When you drop them in a bottle of water, they fizz until they dissolve. The result? Delicious, lightly flavoured water that pumps you full of much-needed electrolytes. According to their website, they were the first company to separate electrolyte replacement from carbohydrates. Not sold yet? Apparently the electrolytes found in Nuun help alleviate cramps, help muscles function, burn energy efficiently and do your laundry. OK, I made that last one up. But the other benefits are legit.
GU Electrolyte Brew
Admittedly, I haven’t tried this one, but I like it for two reasons. First, I like the GU energy chews, and the gels they make so I can only assume that their beverage is also delicious. Secondly, GU Electrolyte brew sounds pretty badass so it gets my vote. Not only does this drink mix have the potassium and sodium needed to replace electrolytes, but it also contains carbs. You can find more info here.
Lately I have been obsessed with coconut water. I saw someone drinking it after a run once and decided I’d try it, and there’s been no turning back. I literally can’t get enough of this stuff (which is bad, because it’s expensive!) This beverage is great pre or post run and is virtually fat-free, low in sugar and loaded with more potassium than a banana. In fact, it is sometimes called “nature’s sports drink” because it supports rapid hydration. While some claim the benefits of coconut water is overstated, there’s no denying it tastes awesome and is super refreshing. I love the tall cans of Grace Coconut Water with the pulp in them. There’s a pulp-less variety too for those who don’t like chunks in their drinks.
All natural, baby
If you’re into natural alternatives, you might like this recipe I tried recently. I have blogged about a different all-natural electrolyte replacement drink before, but I prefer this one. It’s the lemons. They rule. Here’s what you do:
- 1 litre of water
- juice of 2-3 lemons (Fresh or concentrate works)
- 1/3 c. raw honey
- 1/4-1/2 tsp. sea salt (not table salt)
What’s your go-to drink when running? Any recommendations to add to my list?