“Go eat a banana…”
Basically, that is the “magic phrase” used by trainers when clients complain of muscle cramps.
I’m a trainer, I should know what we say. In fact, I am that trainer. I love tossing a ½ banana in my morning or post-workout smoothies.
Bananas are magic. They can almost make the taste of spinach disappear completely when you blend the two together!
…but then we get clients that don’t like bananas. Or in my case, a sister!
Seriously, there are a lot of banana haters out there.
That forced me to find out what other potassium-rich foods were out there to replace the almighty banana.
Why Do You Need Potassium?
We know potassium helps with muscle recovery. But is potassium’s health benefits limited to its post-workout recovery help?
Not in the least! In fact, potassium is so much more than just the easy “hero” for your sore muscles.
Potassium is a mineral and it’s also an electrolyte. And, it’s essential to your survival.
Yes, that’s right. You cannot live without potassium.
That makes that ½ banana in your morning smoothie look a little bit more stellar now.
Surely that information is enough to get these banana haters out there to throw one down for the sake of survival. No?
Are we sure that bananas are the best option for adding potassium-rich foods to our diet?
If you haters are thinking there have got to be other foods containing this amazing nutrient than just bananas, you are right!
In fact, there are at least 10 common foods containing higher levels of potassium than the banana.
Let’s explore these high potassium foods in detail! Because, you have so many more post-workout, potassium-rich options than you probably knew existed.
So if your stomach turns at the mention of bananas, I am about to become your new best friend!
You Can’t Live Without Potassium
Remember how I said potassium is essential to your survival? It’s true.
Every beat of your heart depends on potassium. When potassium levels are too low (which is often the case) or too high (this isn’t as common), the electrolyte balance necessary for muscle and nerve function is interrupted.
Even slightly lowered levels of potassium can cause abnormal heart rhythms.
Potassium is one of just seven essential macrominerals. And in order for your body to maintain key functions for survival, you need at least 100mg/day of potassium.
The recommended daily intake of potassium for adults is 4700mg! Research found that a staggering 98% of the U.S. population doesn’t meet the recommended daily intake for potassium.
Your body requires potassium in order to regulate fluid levels, control the electrical activity of nerves necessary to make your muscles work and function, including the muscles that control your heartbeat and breathing!
Now, you see now why you can’t live without potassium?
More Health Benefits Of Potassium
Potassium has other proven health benefits, too. It can decrease the risk of stroke, lowers blood pressure, helps maintain muscle mass, maintains bone density and stops the formation of kidney stones.
Consuming too little potassium has been linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. The Division for Heart Diseases and Stroke Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study that found adults who consumed at least 4,060 mg of potassium per day decreased their risk of death due to heart disease when compared with adults who consumed a substantially lower amount of potassium at just 1,000 mg/day.
How Potassium Affects Our Bodies
Potassium just might be the most important electrolyte (minerals that help conduct electricity in the body). Of all the electrolytes, we need potassium in large amounts of 4700mg-6000mg/day! That’s like 7-10 cups of green veggies each day!
Potassium is necessary for cellular reactions of the body used to store sugar in the muscles, and is responsible for your body’s exchange of fluid. Cellular reactions include electrically charging your body’s cells so your metabolism, digestion, muscle contraction, body hydration, and nervous system function properly.
Stored sugar provides the quick release of energy and your body needs potassium to store it.
If you are deficient in potassium, you aren’t able to store glucose as easily, so the body stores fat. Potassium helps remove extra sodium from the body through your kidneys and into the urine, making it an essential part of the body’s fluid exchange. High levels of sodium in the body can cause high blood pressure.
Consuming the recommended daily amounts of potassium can improve or alleviate symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, insulin dysfunction (resistance), and sugar cravings by maintaining steady blood sugar levels. Potassium supports heart health, reduces the risk of stroke, lowers blood pressure, hides cellulite, reduces muscle cramps and fights against osteoporosis.
Dangerous Potassium Depleting Diets
High fat/low or no-carb diets (ketogenic diets) deplete potassium in the body. Eliminating carbohydrates from your diet depletes or even eliminates glycogen as you consume high levels of fats and proteins without an adequate intake of carbohydrates. Dangerously low levels of potassium and magnesium are common when consuming high fat/low carb or ketogenic-type diets.
LadyBoss® believes in a lifestyle that includes nutrition “blocks” from all food groups, including your favorite sweet treats in moderation. The Blocking Method provides the foundation of mindful eating for clients participating in our expert coaching program.
If you choose to limit your carbohydrate intake, there are a number of side effects to watch for so you can be prepared to recognize and mitigate the risk of having dangerously low levels of potassium.
Watch for these low-potassium symptoms:
- Weight gain
- Cellulite build-up
- High blood pressure
- Muscle cramps
- Increased insulin levels
- Increased sugar cravings
- Muscle weakness
- Abnormal heartbeat
Eat Potassium-packed Foods
Bananas aren’t the only foods high in potassium. In fact, there are a number of food sources with higher potassium levels and lower sugar content, which make them great alternatives to the ever-popular banana.
Top 5 Potassium Rich Foods
- Swiss Chard, one cup of cooked Swiss chard contains 21% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI).
- Avocado, one medium-sized avocado provides 20% of the RDI
- Spinach, one cup of cooked spinach contains 18% of the RDI.
- Sweet Potatoes, one large sweet potato contains 18% of the RDI.
- Wild Salmon, one-4oz fillet contains 15% of the RDI.
MORE foods high in potassium include:
- Dried fruits: apricots, figs, and dates
- Nuts:- almonds, cashews, and walnuts
- Fresh fruits: bananas, kiwi, pomegranates, oranges, and mangos
- Bran cereals
- Vegetables: spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, and potatoes
- Meats: beef, pork, and lamb
- Beans: white beans, lima beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, soybeans, and lentils
- Coconut water
- Brown or wild rice
- Whole-wheat bread and pasta
Focus On Whole Foods
Potassium is one of the most important nutrients to the human body, and we need it, daily, in very high amounts. If you’re like most people, you likely aren’t getting enough potassium in your diet on a daily basis, putting you at risk for many side-effects associated with low levels of potassium.
Focus on consuming whole foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, and meats as a part of a healthy diet rich in potassium. The list provided includes some of the best choices for a healthy diet rich in potassium to maintain your body’s delicate balance for optimal function and performance.