Why Is Potassium Important?

Did you know that getting enough potassium is important to athletic performance?
When considering your diet, you likely pay attention to things like protein, fiber and vitamins. But minerals deserve your attention too. Potassium is right up there on the list of minerals that are really important to support your body’s functions. In fact, potassium is the 3rd most abundant mineral in our bodies. While clinical potassium deficiency is uncommon, the vast majority of us don’t get enough potassium daily.

What potassium does
According to Healthline, potassium helps regulate fluid balance, helps your nervous system relay messages between your brain and body and regulates muscle and heart contraction. While these functions are critical on an everyday basis for survival, athletes should be particularly interested in the role potassium plays as it relates to athletic performance. Regulating fluids, communication between your brain and body, muscle contraction – each of these activities becomes elevated and increasingly important as your exercise effort gets harder.

We don’t get enough of it
According to this article on PubMed, only 2% of US adults consume the recommended amount of potassium per day. This same study asserts that 99.4% of US adults consume more sodium than the recommended daily amount. In addition to just not consuming enough potassium, levels can also be affected by certain illnesses and by excessive sweating, antibiotics, abusing laxatives, and drinking too much alcohol.

How to get more potassium in your diet
Bottom line is: Do you sweat? You’re losing potassium. And if you’re not actively replacing it, your electrolyte balance will be off, and you’ll slowly start experiencing the consequences. Ever have a day where your brain and body just feel disconnected when you’re working out? Might be low potassium. How about a muscle twitch that just won’t go away? Again, could be potassium. The good news is that increasing your potassium through real foods had literally no downside, so there is no reason to not start incorporating more potassium-rich foods into your diet.

Here’s how much potassium you can get from eating a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of foods rich in this mineral. (Source)

  • Beet greens, cooked: 909 mg
  • Yams, baked: 670 mg
  • Pinto beans, cooked: 646 mg
  • White potatoes, baked: 544 mg
  • Portobello mushrooms, grilled: 521 mg
  • Avocado: 485 mg
  • Sweet potato, baked: 475 mg
  • Spinach, cooked: 466 mg
  • Kale: 447 mg
  • Salmon, cooked: 414 mg
  • Bananas: 358 mg
  • Peas, cooked: 271 mg

Replacing potassium through sports nutrition
Checking the label on your sports drink and energy bar or gel is a good way to make sure you have adequate potassium intake during exercise. All GLUKOS products are formulated to help you achieve electrolyte balance, which will enhance your performance. That’s why we have higher levels of potassium than almost any sports nutrition brand. We also include less sodium than most brands, a decision that is based on the scientific fact that 99.4% of US adults consume too much salt as it is on a daily basis. If you have too much salt and too little potassium, you set yourself up for diminished performance, with ongoing imbalance leading to things like high blood pressure.

October 12, 2020 — Roberto Gutierrez