We lose a lot of water during long and intensive hikes due to increased body temperature and sweating. So-called electrolytes are important micronutrients that leave our body with sweat and other fluids. They play an important role in the functioning of our bodies, for example, they participate in muscular contractions and fluid exchange and regulate our heartbeat. The main electrolytes are sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium.
The deficit of electrolytes can lead to such unpleasant consequences as headaches, weakness, nausea, dizziness, and muscle cramps. To feel good again, it’s necessary to refill the supply of necessary micronutrients in the body. There are a few ways to do it:
- Start taking supplementary potassium, calcium, and magnesium. However, it’s always best to consult a doctor and conduct necessary medical tests first. The thing is, an excess of minerals is as dangerous as their deficit. Besides, not all the supplements featuring magnesium, potassium, and calcium are ingested well.
- Adding ready-made electrolyte powder mixes to water and sports drinks. Unfortunately, this is not the best option either. First of all, they are rather expensive. Second of all, they contain a lot of sugar or, what’s worse, artificial sweeteners such as maltodextrin, dextrose, or aspartame.
- Finally, the easiest and the cheapest way to maintain the balance of salt and minerals is drinking enough water and eating food rich in magnesium, potassium, and calcium. It is also possible to make your own electrolyte drink, which is rather easy.
To make an electrolyte drink on the trail, you will need a few simple and affordable ingredients, such as sea salt or Himalayan salt, lemon juice or citric acid, sweetener, and essential mineral-rich fruit or vegetable powder (spinach, kale, strawberry, beets or celery).
I prefer spinach powder because of its rich green colour and the highest content of the minerals we are looking for. One litre of a Spinach Electrolyte Drink contains 68% of the recommended daily intake of potassium, 52% of the daily intake of magnesium, and 48% of the daily intake of iron. By the way, it’s also rather delicious and can compete with the store-bought products.
DIY Electrolyte Drink (1 litre)
Combine all the ingredients in a small zip-lock bag.
On the trail:
Pour the dry electrolyte mix into a bottle. Add 1 litre of drinking water. Close the bottle and shake it well until all the ingredients are fully dispersed.