Hydration Tips to Beat the Heat
Your frequent headaches and mood swings may not be a sign of stress or other maladies.
Instead, they may indicate that you’re dehydrated. If you race around too much and forget to drink enough fluids, you can begin to feel fatigued, experience headaches, mood fluctuations, and just not be as sharp mentally. Some people start to think more negatively and perceive physical activities as more difficult to perform. To counter these feelings and perceptions, some of us may consume more caffeine or sugar – thinking an energy boost is needed, instead of going for a walk and drinking a tall glass of water – which your body would benefit more from.
Dehydration is not usually life threatening, but it becomes a much bigger concern in hotter weather, as our bodies lose fluid through sweat to maintain a controlled body temperature. If you’ve ever experienced heat stroke or had to go to the hospital to receive fluids, then you understand the severity of extreme dehydration. Luckily, there are many ways to avoid this, even for those who don’t enjoy drinking plain water and don’t want to give up their java habit. So, keep enjoying summer and make the most out of hot days with smart hydration strategies that can prevent dehydration. Here are expert tips to help:
Drink fluids. Aim for a minimum of half your body weight in ounces per day (75 oz. for a 150 lb. person), mostly from water.
Limit sugary beverages. If you don’t like plain water, flavored drinks are better than none. With that said, however, limit those high in sugar. For alternatives, try sparkling waters with hints of fruit taste. Or, fill your water bottle and add an orange slice and a slice of cucumber, for a spa-like flavor.
Colder fluids are better. To both support hydration and stay cool (especially in hot weather or in heat-related athletics, like hot yoga), be sure to drink cold or even half-frozen beverages. Their low temperatures can help regulate core temperature in hot weather, helping prevent overheating or even heat stroke. You can simply add ice cubes to a glass of water, or you could freeze citrus slices into ice cubes for extra flavor. On extra hot days, consider blending up ice with water and fresh fruit like berries to make for a cooling and hydrating drink.
Add electrolytes. When exercising in the heat, increase electrolytes to your diet, as sodium is lost through sweat. Sodium is the main electrolyte to support muscle function and helps the body retain the fluids consumed for hydration. Well-seasoned foods, salty snacks, and a pinch of salt in that homemade slushie are all great ways to get the needed electrolyte sodium. Adding a high-quality electrolyte powder to your water is also a means to replenish.
Keep hydrating when at the beach and the pool. While relaxing in the water feels great and your body cools down, it’s less obvious that you need to keep drinking. “I think it's great to be able to manage body and core temperature with a pool, the ocean, etc. on hot days,” says Canyon Ranch Director of Nutrition Stephanie Miezin, MS, RD, CSSD. “But it’s not a replacement for drinking the fluids needed to rehydrate and stay hydrated.” Stephanie suggests bringing a big water bottle to the beach or pool as a reminder to keep drinking fluids.
Limit alcohol. Alcohol can promote dehydration through suppression of an antidiuretic hormone that normally controls how much fluid is lost through urine. Try to limit alcohol consumption, especially on hot days when your sweat rate increases.
Monitor caffeine. Coffee and tea don’t necessarily lead to dehydration when consumed in moderation. Up to 180 mg caffeine per day is considered okay. For reference, 1 cup of coffee usually has about 100 mg caffeine.
Trangmar, Steven J., Gonzalez-Alonso, Jose. (2019) Heat, Hydration and the Human Brain, Heart and Skeletal Muscles. Journal of Sports Medicine (69-85).
Fluid Balance, Hydration and Athletic Performance:
Thomas, D. Travis, Erdman, Kelly Anne, Burke, Louis, M. (2016). Nutrition and Athletic 2016 Performance Position Paper. Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, (pgs 543 – 568).