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What you need to know about Potassium
By PR Cole MS, RD Candidate
What is Potassium?
Potassium is a charged particle in the body, which is why it's referred to as an electrolyte. These dissolved electrolytes (which also include sodium and chlorine) are responsible for monitoring fluid, nutrient and waste exchanges throughout the cells of the body. Potassium is a particularly important nutrient because of its role in regulating heart rate.
What happens if I don't have enough Potassium?
Athletes who regularly experience significant sweat losses may be at risk for Potassium deficiency since electrolytes are lost in sweat. This loss impacts endurance capabilities as well as an athlete's ability to tolerate heat during a workout.
Potassium insufficiency is also a risk for those who use diuretics, laxatives and steroids. Symptoms of long -term potassium deficiency include irregular heartbeats, muscle weakness and impaired ability to use blood sugar for fuel. High blood pressure and kidney stones are also potential side effects of a potassium deficit.
How do I make sure I get enough Potassium?
You can easily compensate for sweat losses of electrolytes with a diet that includes unprocessed fruits, vegetables and lean protein sources. The daily recommended intake of Potassium is 4,700 milligrams. The following list of foods will help you maintain adequate potassium levels no matter how much you sweat.
Cole's Top Potassium Picks
|Sweet potato, baked, 1 potato (146 g)||694||131|
|Yogurt, plain, non-fat, 8-oz container||579||127|
|Halibut, cooked, 3 oz||490||119|
|Lima beans, cooked, Ã‚Â½ cup||484||104|
|Winter squash, cooked, Ã‚Â½ cup||448||40|
|Cod, Pacific, cooked, 3 oz||439||89|
|Banana, (medium size)||422||105|
|Spinach, cooked, Ã‚Â½ cup||419||21|
|Milk, non-fat, 1 cup||382||80|
|Honeydew melon, 1/8 medium||365||58|
|Lentils, cooked, Ã‚Â½ cup||365||115|
|Kidney beans, cooked, Ã‚Â½ cup||358||112|
|Orange juice, Ã‚Â¾ cup||355||85|
|Split peas, cooked, Ã‚Â½ cup||355||116|
NOTE: There is very little risk of overdosing on potassium through diet alone. Supplements on the other hand may cause potassium toxicity.
Breakfast: Fruit and Yogurt
1 cup fat free yogurt, topped with 1 medium sliced banana and 2 tablespoons of wheat germ, served with Ã‚Â¾ cup of orange juice
Potassium: 1,485 mg
Lunch: Spinach and Swiss omelet with whole -wheat toast
Combine 1 whole egg with 3 egg whites. Beat together and cook over the stove -top on a frying pan sprayed with nonstick PAM spray. Add Ã‚Â½ cup of spinach (fresh or defrosted from a frozen pack) and 1 slice (1 ounce) of low fat Swiss cheese. Season with black pepper and garlic and serve with two slices of 100% whole -wheat toast.
Potassium: 729 mg
Dinner: Halibut with vegetables and brown rice.
Pan- fry 3 oz of halibut with nonstick PAM cooking spray. Season the fish with black pepper and lemon juice.
Prepare a medium sized sweet potato for baking. For easy microwave cooking, pierce the skin with a fork and cover with a damp paper towel before placing the potato on a microwavable plate. Cook on high power for 3 minutes. Turn the potato then cook again on high power for an additional 2 or 3 minutes. Steam Ã‚Â½ cup of lima beans (from frozen is usually cheapest) partially covered in the microwave (5 minutes on high) until tender.
Serve with 1 cup of brown rice (instant or traditional).
Potassium: 1,722 mg
1. DeBruyne, L., Pinna, K., Whitney, E., (2008). Nutrition & Diet Therapy (7th ed.)
2. McArdle, W., Katch, F., Katch, V. , (2007). Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition & Human Performance (6th ed. )
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