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Potassium sources for athletes

sources of potassium for runners

You may have noticed amid all those water bottles in the post-race tents that there are usually quite a few bananas hanging around. These bananas are there in bunches to aid with recovery because they contain a healthy dose of potassium.

So, what exactly does potassium do for the body?

For starters, it works with salt to balance the fluid and electrolyte levels in your body, all while helping to prevent your muscles from cramping. Eating a banana and drinking water is a wonderful hydration technique.

Beyond that, potassium helps the body build proteins, use carbohydrates, and build muscle. It’s also critical to consume for your heart, as it is partially responsible for keeping your internal timepiece ticking. This all sounds great – especially for athletes like runners who need that delicate electrolyte balance to perform. Thing is, the average person should be getting a hefty 4,700 milligrams of potassium every day, though most of us don’t even get half that much.

While bananas may be the most popular source of potassium since they are portable, relatively easy to digest, and easy on a pre- or post-race stomach, there are plenty of other fruits and vegetables with even higher levels of this mineral.

  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes contains 1100 milligrams
  • 1 cup cooked white beans contains 1004 milligrams
  • 1 cup cooked Swiss chard contains 961 milligrams
  • 1 baked potato with skin contains 926 milligrams
  • 1 cup cooked spinach contains 840 milligrams
  • 1 cup sliced avocado contains 708 milligrams
  • 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt contains 573 milligrams
  • 3 ounces cooked white fish contains 500 milligrams
  • 1 cup sliced apricots contains 427 milligrams
  • 1 medium banana contains 422 milligrams
You may have heard runners deplete their potassium stores by excreting it out in their sweat, however, most potassium loss occurs in urine with only very little leaving the body during an intense sweat session. This isn’t to say there aren’t dangers of dehydration, but as far as potassium goes – you need not worry. Regardless, if you’re looking for a natural sports drink alternative, all you need to reach for is water, banana, and some raisins to get the power you need sans the dyes and other additives.
Written by Ashley Marcin.