Whether you plan on spending your summer days on the beach, boat or the golf course, proper hydration will keep you safe and assure you feel your best! This post is about:
• the goal of hydration
• how to determine if you are hydrated or not
• tips on maintaining hydration, especially during the sweltering, summer heat.
The goal of hydration is euhydration or normal hydration (eu=normal). An adequate amount of fluid for proper physiological functioning. Not too little, not too much. How much is that? GOOD QUESTION! You’ve probably heard you should drink 8- eight ounce glasses of water per day. I personally find this a reasonble goal, and I was surprised to learn that a 2002 literature review, published in the American Journal of Physiology, concluded there is no scientific basis for this recommendation. According to the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) new guidelines on fluid intake, most healthy people can adequately meet their hydraton needs by letting thirst be their guide. The IMO did not set exact requirements but issued these guidelines- for women about 2.7 L (91 oz.) of total fluid; for men, an average of about 3.7 L (125 oz.) of total fluid. Whatever your fluid requirements are, plan on needing more if exercising and/or out in hot weather. The fluid you lose as sweat, should be replaced. It’s important to point out that fluid needs are highly individualized. If you are interested in quantifying your needs, I suggest you check out this link Know Thy Sweat Rate.
Before exercise or prolonged exposure to the heat, it’s important to drink fluids during the day and within one hour prior heading out. Be sure to start hydrated. You may ask, “How will I know I am hydrated?” ANOTHER GOOD QUESTION! Here are some clues that your hydration may be inadequate (and it’s time for another glass of water):
1. The color of your urine is dark yellow or amber. Clear or light colored urine means you are well hydrated.
2. You are thirsty. A dry mouth and thirst are your body’s way of telling you it needs more fluid.
3. Your weight has dropped. If your weight is down this could be a sign of fluid loss, especially if other indicators (urine color and thirst) also point to lack of fluid.
In addition to drinking before exercise/exposure to the heat, it’s important to drink during and after as well. What should you reach for when selecting fluid? For most people water is all that is necessary to maintain good hydration. For those exercising longer than one hour, sports drinks may be desirable to provide not only fluid, but also carbohydrates and electrolytes.
Healthy eating requires planning and organizing. So too does consuming fluid to maintain normal hydration. Here are some practical tips to get you started:
• Start your day with a glass of water.
• Take a water bottle with you and refill it as necessary.
• Follow a schedule if you have trouble remembering to drink water.
• Choose water with your meals.
• If you find water boring, add fruit to ice cold sparkling water or seltzer, for a fun beverage with fizz. Here are some more fresh ideas to keep you enjoying your drinking water!
What are your favorite ways of drinking water? Do you like it straight up or infused with something fresh?
Diane Boyd, M.B.A., R.D., L.D.N.