When you feel strong, energetic, and happy during a workout, you should thank your electrolytes. These charged minerals help regulate blood pressure, help move information through nerves, and allow your muscles to contract quickly—making for a great workout.
However, hard-working electrolytes are lost in sweat and need to be replenished after long or very intense workouts. Many athletes turn to sports drinks to refuel, but these are typically filled with artificial ingredients and unhealthy amounts of added sugars. Electrolytes—such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, and chloride—occur naturally in many foods, so after a workout, skip the sugar and go for a snack!
Sports drinks are only needed after extremely strenuous exercise or activities lasting longer than an hour such as running a half-marathon, when the body has lost large amounts of electrolytes and burned through most of its carbohydrate reserves. After a typical workout, refueling your body with wholesome foods gives you the electrolytes you need as well as plenty of other nutrients to keep your body healthy and strong. Plain old water works perfectly well after less intense sessions to rehydrate.