When I work with clients one-on-one, hydration always comes up. Staying properly hydrated key to feeling your best on your summer walks, runs, and activities. However, I find that many people don’t properly hydrate nor do they adjust for the intensity and duration of the activity or the temperature. Let’s dive into why hydration is so important in the first place and discuss 8 ways to stay hydrated and fueled this summer.
Why is Hydration Important?
Our body is mostly fluid weight, right? Not only that but fluids help literally every major system in our bodies ….from your muscular system to your brain and heart, fluids have an important role in nutrient transportation. Fluids help regulate body temperature and can play a role in energy levels. If you are an active individual or an athlete, it’s important to note that fluids help lubricate joints and remove waste products (such as lactic acid).
In my experience, many people underestimate how much fluid they need (especially in the summer months or with increased running/activity). Also, as we age, our thirst capacity diminishes so we may not feel as thirsty (although our hydration needs haven’t really changed). This is easy to see in the elderly, where they are rarely thirsty but yet get dehydrated often with signs and symptoms like skin tenting, kidney impairment, or low blood pressure.
Ultimately, if you want to keep your body operating in tip top shape, you need to properly hydrate just as much as you need to properly fuel with food. If anything, hydration is more important and dehydration can affect you quickly and can be severe depending on the degree of dehydration.
So now that we know that we need to drink more fluids to optimally run and live life, let’s check out 8 ways to stay hydrated this summer.
6 Ways To Stay Hydrated This Summer
1. Use electrolyte tabs like Nuun to help replace any minerals lost through increased sweating. I also find that these tablets help actually quench my thirst. So, if you find that you’re drinking a lot of water but you’re still feeling thirsty, I would absolutely recommend electrolyte tabs to help reset. They make some with caffeine and unless you’re out running, I generally recommend to steer clear of these ones as caffeine can be a mild diuretic (meaning causes temporary and mild dehydration).
2. Watermelon – Watermelon is nature’s god send when it comes to hydrating. It’s cool, refreshing, has some B vitamins and is mostly water. It’s no wonder watermelon season peaks in the hottest months of the year! Grapes are another favorite- especially frozen grapes!
3. Drink 1-2 large glasses of water first thing in the morning – do you first reach for your coffee or tea in the morning? STOP! Don’t reach for those beverages until you’ve downed 8-20oz of water. I’ve enjoyed warm lemon water or warm water every morning for the past several years and it remains one my favorite parts of my morning routine. Plus, it helps get my day off to a great start!
4. Get enough Magnesium – Most Americans do not consume adequate magnesium and without it, you’ll notice signs of dehydration quicker and experience muscle cramps or extreme muscle fatigue – definitely a no-go for summer runs! Many electrolyte replacements have about 6% of your Magnesium for the day but in order to reach 100% of the RDA, consume whole grains, seeds, nuts, beans/legumes everyday. If you don’t consume these foods daily, consider supplementation (your multivitamin likely does not contain Magnesium as it’s a large mineral). I tend to recommend Naturally Calm as it’s a form of magnesium that’s easy to absorb but is also easy on the stomach. If you have any constipation issues, this is another great option that may be helpful for you.
5. Get enough Potassium – similarly to magnesium, without adequate potassium and when dehydration sets in, the symptoms can be more severe. Adequate potassium is easy to reach if you’re consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables (this means >5 servings per day). Sweet potatoes, oranges, and tomatoes (tomato sauce too) are some of my favorite sources to recommend – bananas are fine too but honestly I think they get a bit overdone and I want to be clear that you don’t have to eat a banana to meet your potassium goals. In fact, there is more potassium in an orange than a banana!
6. Drink Often – Leaving the house? Grab your water bottle. Running errands? Grab your water bottle. About to sit at your desk for awhile? Grab your water bottle. One of the biggest mistakes I see with hydration in runners is that runners will try to “binge” hydrate right before a long run. Whether you’re hiking, walking, or running, binge hydrating will not help you hydrate. In fact, you’ll probably have to go to the bathroom suddenly and if you drink too much water too quickly, it can cause hyponatremia (low sodium levels). If you’re not a sipper, I recommend that clients drink a large glass of water after every meal and one large glass in between each meal as a base.
In general, you want your urine to be a pale yellow (much like lemonade) throughout the day. If you notice you wake up with darker urine, that’s normal but work towards that lemonade color. If your urine is dark like apple juice, you’re likely already experiencing some of the effects of being dehydrated (whether you’re aware of it or not).
How Much Do I Need to Drink?
There is no set recommendation of fluids needed for runners or athletes….in general this is because everyone has a different sweat rate. However, it is generally recommended that adults drink 8 8oz glasses per day. If that seems like too much or too little for you, use this method as a starting point: drink half of your weight in ounces. So, if you weigh 160#, you’ll need about 80 oz/day or 10 cups per day.