Summer is here and the heat is on. Your body needs fluid to function at its best, but many of us don’t get enough, especially when we exercise. Thirst is not a good indicator of when you need to drink (many of us mistake thirst for hunger) and by the time you experience a headache, cramps, dizziness or fatigue, it is late in the hydration game. Here are some guidelines and quick tips for healthy & delicious ways to stay hydrated this summer.
What should I drink when I’m active?
Some fluids are better than others. Water should be your first choice. You can also drink plain coconut water to replace potassium, magnesium and sodium. Don’t overdo it when it comes to sugar. Look for drinks with no more than 6%-8% carbohydrate content. Limit your reliance on fruit juices, sodas, and energy drinks which may be 10% carbohydrate or more. They take longer to be absorbed than water and who needs the empty calories!
How much should I drink?
Sweat rate and electrolyte loss vary from person to person so there is really no one-size fits all recommendation for avoiding dehydration. A basic guideline is to drink enough so that you urinate every three to four hours and the urine is light in color. If you are exercising intensely, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends an individualized fluid replacement approach based on routine measurement of pre- and post-exercise body weight.
Refresh with fruit-infused water
If you get bored with plain water, liven it up by infusing whole foods and natural flavors. Cucumbers, celery, berries, apples, basil, ginger root, mint, orange, parsley, kiwi – experiment! You’ll stay hydrated and will love the taste. (See two recipes below)
Buy organic, use cold or room temperature water, and prepare in a glass container. Citrus fruits, kiwis, melons, and strawberries can be thickly sliced or quartered, while harder fruits and vegetables like apples and cucumbers should be thinly sliced. Tear or chop the leaves of basil and mint, and crush ginger root. The flavor of softer fruits and vegetables will infuse quickly, while harder foods will take a little longer. If you don’t drink the water within 24 hours, strain out the solids. The water will keep for up to three days in the refrigerator.
Eat water-rich fruits and vegetables
A great way to stay hydrated is to add water-rich fruits and vegetables to your daily routine. They replenish fluid with a bonus of providing nutrients and fiber. Some excellent choices are:
Watermelon – contains vitamin C, beta carotene and lycopene.
Cantaloupe and honeydew melons – rich in vitamin A, potassium and several antioxidants.
Cucumbers – provide calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium.
Celery – a surprising 95% water and contains sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc.
But don’t stop there. Fruits with more than 80% water content include pineapples, pears, peaches, oranges, cranberries, raspberries and blueberries. Wash and cut the fruit before your workout and keep it in the refrigerator for a quick, refreshing treat after exercise.
Stay active, stay hydrated and enjoy your summer!
Cucumber Mint Infused Water
Add a sliced cucumber and 10 torn or roughly chopped mint leaves to ½ gallon of water. Refrigerate for an hour and enjoy.
Strawberry Orange Infused Water
Add a sliced orange and 8-10 quartered strawberries to ½ gallon of water. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
This article is for informational and educational purposes only and does not substitute for medical advice. Consult with your personal health care provider before beginning an exercise or nutritional program.