Cross a finish line this summer and chances are you'll be handed a banana. What gives? In a word: potassium.
One of your body's most important electrolytes, potassium helps carry electrical impulses throughout your body so your cells communicate and do what they need to do—like keep you living. Deficiencies are linked to muscle fatigue, cramping, constipation, and even heart irregularities. Plus, potassium helps your body convert carbs into glycogen—your body's form of stored quick-acting energy. So when you're running low on energy after a workout, some potassium give you some oomph and get your muscles the fuel they need for growth and repair.
But 70 percent of your body's potassium is in your fluids (think: plasma, blood, and sweat). So the more you sweat, the more potassium you lose, and the more you need to take in after a workout. And chances are you need more than that banana's paltry 422 mg. Here are four bigger, better sources:
Lending even more credence to the belief that everything's better with avocado: 1 cup of sliced avocado contains 708 mg of potassium. Just don't eat this after every workout, or you could end up taking in more calories than you should.
We doubt you're actually weighing your sweet potatoes, but a 130g spud (about 5 inches long) packs 438 mg of potassium. Plus, it comes with a hefty load of carbs, which can make it even easier for potassium to do its glycogen-revving thing.
Plain Non-Fat Yogurt
A single 8-ounce serving will score you 579 grams of the good stuff—not to mention a hefty dose of protein, which is essential after any workout for muscle synthesis.
The ultimate in post-workout hydration, one glass of coconut water packs about 480 mg of potassium—way more than just about any "electrolyte-replacing" sports drink out there.