As we’re all soaking in the sun, staying hydrated so you can feel kick-butt during and after your outdoor fun is key. But how much, and what to drink?
Why is it important to stay hydrated?
- Energy! We use water in energy production, and our energy and endurance are quick to lower if we’re dehydrated.
- Hunger and cravings. Mild dehydration can both cause vague cravings that lead us to munch when what we really need is fluid. It can also increase our hunger hormones, making good choices harder.
- Healthy skin, hair and gut. Water keeps all our tissues moist and healthy, and helps protect the barriers that keep bugs out.
- Endurance and performance. Low fluid intake is one of the first causes of early fatigue or just plain hard-for-no-reason workouts.
Okay, so on to the practical tips!
Daily: 25-35 mL per kg of bodyweight or 12-16 mL per pound of body weight
With exercise: 250-750 mL per hour of exercise. More if it’s hot and sweaty, lower end if it’s low intensity or cool.
There is a huge range in what works for each person! I need more than the estimated requirements to feel my best, and you may feel awesome at the lower end of the estimated range. Experiment and feel out what works for your body.
What to drink?
Do choose: plain water, unsweetened bubbly or carbonated water (unless you’re prone to bloating), tea or coffee (yep – up to a few cups count towards your fluid intake), milk (plant or dairy)
Limit or choose less often: Sweetened drinks (pop, juice, Frappuccinos, Gatorade, sweet iced teas etc). These drinks are going to spike blood sugar and insulin which will cause an energy dip later on, and be more likely to contribute to weight gain.
What about electrolytes?
Electrolytes are minerals that keep our muscles, heart, and brain working as well as maintaining blood pressure and hydration. We get most of our sodium, potassium, and magnesium from foods we eat everyday so generally you shouldn’t need to supplement unless diet is lacking.
Lots of sweat (from heat or exercise), genetics or health conditions may influence whether or not you need extra electrolytes in your water.
- Exercise over 60-90 minutes of continuous activity – think long rides, bike rides, or more intense hikes.
- If you’re a heavy sweater and doing high intensity activity
- Chronically low blood pressure
- Chronic loose bowel movements – you’ll lose more electrolytes than you absorb.
If you need electrolytes, I prefer a sugar free variation (sweetened with safer Stevia or monk fruit) such as Nuun or Biosteel. This way you can use them for lower intensity activity when you don’t need additional sugars or carbs, and generally I’d rather eat my carbs before, during or after a big activity like an intense hike anyways.
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