When summer temperatures soar, healthy hydration habits are more important than ever. We play harder, sweat more and quite often don’t even realize we’re getting dehydrated. By the time we feel thirsty, it’s already too late.
Our bodies are made up of about 60 percent water, and it’s just about the most essential nutrient you can give your body. Even mild dehydration can lower energy levels and diminish blood volume. This “trickle down” effect causes less oxygen to circulate, resulting in mood changes and fatigue. The body functions at a lower energy level, and you’re just not performing at your best.
Do our calorie needs change in summer?
Our bodies do a pretty good job at regulating temperature, but during hot weather our metabolism can actually slow down a bit. While this doesn’t really change our caloric needs, the area to watch is hydration. Daily water loss must be replaced with water intake. Just based on normal activities, we lose about 10 cups of water per day. Throw in a few hours of swimming, kayaking, running, golfing and other outdoor sports, and you’re at risk of dehydration.
Changing Hydration Habits for Summer
Drinking enough water and other healthy drinks should be a priority in summer. Many people notice a decreased appetite when it’s “too hot to eat,” so drinking more and eating smaller, more frequent meals can help you stay hydrated and energized. “Drinking throughout the day in general is important,” says Kim Larson, R.D.N., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “It’s just as important for someone who is working at a computer all day [to drink water], as it is for somebody who is running a marathon.” To that effect, it’s important to keep sipping consistently throughout the day while you’re at work so you’re sufficiently hydrated for after work activities.
What to Drink and When
1. Drink enough water to prevent thirst. Start each day with eight ounces of water, and drink eight to 12 glasses of water per day. Remember that it’s possible to over-hydrate, so drink the appropriate amount of water for your weight and activity level.
2. Drink more water when working, exercising or playing outside in hot weather. Consume up to eight ounces every 15 minutes when sweating.
3. Remember that not all drinks hydrate the same way. Electrolyte drinks contain sodium, potassium and other key nutrients to replenish electrolyte levels. If you’re active in extreme heat for an hour or more, supplement water with a quality sports drink.
4. Fluid and sodium losses can also be replaced with watery fruits such as watermelon, berries and leafy greens, and with foods that contain salt and potassium, such as soup and vegetable juices.
5. Carry healthy snacks like dried fruit and nut mixtures during extended activities such as long hikes, bike rides or paddling trips, These aren’t necessarily hydrating but they do contain high amounts of potassium, sodium, carbs and protein that can keep your energy levels up in a healthy way.
6. Avoid soda, coffee and alcohol.
During the dog days of summer, drinking enough water is more important than ever. Follow these healthy hydration habits to stay hydrated throughout the day and ready for hot weather fun.