4 summer hydration tips served up
Nutrition experts share strategies to beat the summer heat
Exercising and spending more time outdoors in the summer can leave you sweaty, hot and thirsty. And while it’s best not to wait till you actually feel that thirst to grab a drink, going back to the same water bottle can be a bit uninspiring.
"As a healthy eating dietitian, I probably shouldn’t say this. But water can get boring. You need to figure out ways to jazz it up," said Desiree Nielsen, a registered dietitian in Vancouver, B.C. She added there are easy ways to make plain old water more appealing.
"It can be as simple as infusing water in the fridge with your favourite fruit, or even veggies," Nielsen explained. "I find cucumber water incredibly refreshing and just that little bit of taste … really changes the way it hits your palate and [it] becomes far more enjoyable to drink a lot of it."
4 tips to keep you hydrated in the heat
- Balance out the dehydrating beverages with extra water.
- Choose fruits and vegetables with high water content.
- Drink some coconut water.
- Make yourself a custom blend of iced herbal tea with lots of ice.
If you get too thirsty, your body may misinterpret signs of thirst for being hungry which will prompt you to eat. But if you’re not eating the right things, you won't quench that thirst.
"People forget that fruits and vegetables are a wonderful source of hydration. Particularly melons, something like watermelon is 90 per cent water," Nielsen said. "So by gravitating towards all those local sources of fruits and vegetables we have all summer long, you’re making food choices that will also contribute to your hydration."
Nielsen says you can do simple things like blend watermelon and serve it as a drink. Or if you’re trying to keep kids hydrated, serve them a homemade dessert.
"They love eating ice pops to cool down. So you can take pureed fruit and blend them into ice pops so it’s another great way to hydrate but it feels like a treat for your kids."
Brian St. Pierre of Augusta, Maine, is a sports dietitian and nutrition educator with Precision Nutrition. He says exercising in the summer is different than in the winter because we sweat a lot more. For elite athletes, he recommended sports drinks to replace lost electrolytes like sodium, potassium and magnesium that your body needs for your muscles and heart to function properly.
St. Pierre said considering the amount of food colouring in sports drinks, while not ideal, the rehydrating benefits outweigh the risk. And adds that high level athletes can burn the sugar added to those sports drinks.
But before you celebrate a brisk walk from the parking lot to the office with a bottle of brightly coloured electrolyte liquid, St. Pierre said you might want to reconsider.
"For most people, water is more than enough for regular hydration, water’s your best friend," he said. "If you’re really in the heat, if you’re playing a full 18 holes and you want to make sure you’re not getting dehydrated, having something like a G2, a lower carb option.
In the vast majority of cases, water is all you need."
Nutritionist Julie Daniluk also suggests you skip the sports drinks, but for a different reason.
"My concern is some of the additives they put in there," she said.
"You very often will see brominated vegetable oil and artificial dyes that can be really hard on children. So it’s great to avoid all of those nasty, extra ingredients and focus in on all natural things."
Her recommendation, one echoed by Nielsen, was to opt for coconut water for its high levels of magnesium and potassium. She also suggested herbal teas, to get minerals into your body without including the sugar in commercially brewed iced tea, or to make lemonade with a pinch of unrefined sea salt. For Daniluk too, it's all about keeping the flavours interesting.
"Our thirst taps out very quickly unless there’s a flavouring in the water," she said. "So by adding a sour and a sweet to the water in the case of stevia lemonade, we’re going to drink more … far more readily than if you just had plain old water. But of course, plain old water does the trick."
But most people don't spend all their time under a patio umbrella sipping pure water or naturally sweetened herbal tea. St. Pierre made this recommendation for the times you find yourself enjoying a different type of beverage.
"This time of year, barbecues, people are drinking beer outside, alcohol can dehydrate you, especially when you’re out in the sun it can be exacerbated even more," he said. "So the tried and true method of having a water between every drink can be really helpful for hydration purposes."