Summer is finally here! The warm weather is stellar for the beach and patio but can be killer for your outdoor workouts. Before you wilt, read on! With some crafty hydration strategies you can beat the heat.
Hydration is at least half the battle to keep you cool. If you sip hydrating fluids all day and come ready to play with water bottles on hand you’re on the right track. But, there are a few more tricks you can use to more effectively wet your whistle. Here we uncover 3 overlooked (or underestimated) hydration tips that can tee you up for your most comfortable summer exercise season yet.
Hitting the field in the midday heat and you know you won’t be able to drink until halftime? Have a long swim ahead of you in warm water? Or, know you’ll be out in the sun all day at your track meet? Don’t rely solely on immediate pre-workout and post-workout fluids.
Drink up well before your workout session. Beginning an exercise session in a state of balanced hydration (or euhydration) is your first line of defence against heat cramps, heat exhaustion and exertional heat stroke.
With the heat and humidity, many of us get behind on our fluids during our day-to-day activities. If we come to our practice, game, or workout even slightly dehydrated, staying on top of our hydration during exercise is even more challenging.
Make fluids a priority 2-4 hours before you start your workout. Most people require about 1-2 cups of water in this period (or 5-10 ml/kg). If you know it’s going to be extra sticky out drink about an extra ½ cup to 1 cup in the 2 hours before exercise (or 3-5 ml/kg).
Still, don’t overdo the fluids. Drink to thirst. What’s a good rule of thumb to check if you’re hydrated? Your urine should be pale yellow. Gross, but true!
2. Add a Little Flavour
Adding some flavour, and maybe electrolytes, like sodium can help to encourage you to drink and can aid with fluid absorption.
Researchers have found that ad libitum drinking (i.e. drinking without prompting) is better when the fluid is tasty. All of us are more likely to meet our hydration needs when provided with a flavoured beverage. But, this trick works especially well for older adults and children, which is important because these groups are also especially susceptible to dehydration.
Also, our body absorbs fluids more readily when they contain a bit of carbs and salt (sodium). This extra sodium is key when you know you are going to get extra sweaty. Sodium can help with fluid retention before exercise. This strategy may also help you avoid muscle cramps. Inadequate hydration and electrolyte imbalances are one cause of cramps during exercise.
Before a hot and sweaty game top up with a sports drink or a low fat, salty snack (like pretzels) and water. If choosing a sports drink, choose one that contains 6-8% carbohydrates and a bit of sodium (or salt). Or even better, make your own using one of our recipes for inspiration. If you have high blood pressure or have been told to limit your salt intake for another condition, be sure to speak with your doctor before using this strategy.
High-level sports stars know how important the right fluids are to their play and recovery. Rafael Nadal is famously fastidious about his hydration. Here you can see Nadal fixing his water bottles pre-match and then you can see him calling out for his recovery drink after a match. No one knows the benefits of optimal hydration better than those who have made a career out of sports.
3. Put Some Ice On It
We all know how great a popsicle tastes in the sweltering heat so why not change the temperature of your fluids to give you some relief? While there have been mixed results about whether cold liquids improve performance, there seems to be clear evidence that they help with thermoregulation. In essence, they can help you feel more comfortable during exertion and help protect against and treat heat illness.
Much of the research in this area has been done by the military. Military personnel are no strangers to gruelling exertion in extreme climates. A 2016 study found that ice slurries can provide protection against heat stress. Not only that but heat relief can be achieved with a smaller volume of ice slurry than when using ambient water alone.
To make your own ice slurry mix ice and water in the following ratio: 2/3 shaved ice with 1/3 water. Ice slurries provide a better cooling potential than larger ice cubes mixed with water. Even so, if ice cubes and water are all you have, the cool liquid will bring you relief so use what you’ve got!
Manage the heat this summer by pre-hydrating, flavouring your liquids on those super-sweaty exercise days, and using ice when the temperature rises. If you want more tips about hydration read my Hydration Hype blog. This summer you have a plan to quench your thirst with purpose and not let the heat get in the way of your fun!
Nutritional planning is integral to achieve your optimal athletic performance. Gazelle Nutrition Lab delivers one on one or group nutritional counselling and consulting to both recreational and high-performance athletes. Also, the Food For Thought Blog is a free resource for healthy recipes and health tips. Have questions? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch!