Weight Loss & Fitness

5 essential hydration hacks for summer

By Dr. Nathalie Beauchamp, DC

Summer’s arrival brings not only soaring temperatures, but also more time spent outdoors, soaking up the sun (and breaking a sweat!). Maintaining proper hydration is crucial for our health all year long, but when the mercury rises, there are some extra considerations to keep in mind.

Why hydration matters

Our bodies are composed of about 60 per cent water, playing a critical role in various bodily functions, including temperature regulation, joint lubrication, and nutrient transportation. According to Dr. Andy Galpin, a two per cent dehydration (a two per cent decrease in body weight excluding other inputs and outputs) causes a significant increase in perception of difficulty in exercise and a decrease in endurance performance, speed, power, and accuracy.  It can cause fatigue, dizziness, confusion, and heat-related illnesses, especially during intense physical activities.

Exercising or intense physical exertion in a hot environment can exacerbate this problem. You can lose between one to two liters of water per hour through sweat, which translates to 1-2 kg or 2.2-4.4 lbs.  For a 150-lb individual, this could mean a dehydration level of up to three per cent in just one hour of intense activity.

How much water?

Dietitians of Canada recommend 2.2 L (nine cups) for females and 3.0 L (12 cups) for males.  The U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine recommends a slightly higher 2.7 L (11.5 cups) for females and 3.7 L (15.5 cups) for males. These recommendations, of course, do not take into account individual variations in weight, diet, activity, etc. A more customized approach, recommended by Dr. Andy Galpin and others, is to consume one-half daily of your body weight in pounds, in ounces of water. As with all general recommendations, this is an excellent place to start, and pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you eat a highly processed diet, you will likely need more water. If you consume a pure whole-food diet, you very likely need to consume less water.

When exercising or heavily sweating, it’s crucial to hydrate adequately. A good rule of thumb is to drink water based on your body weight divided by 30, in ounces, every 15 minutes.

For example, if you weigh 150 lbs:

150 ÷ 30 = 5oz water/15min.

5 helpful hacks to keep you hydrated 

1. Hydrate before you caffeinate

Start your day off on the right foot by consuming a large glass (or two!) of water upon rising. I know it’s tempting to reach for a cup of coffee first thing, but get water into you first. I always get about a litre in myself. Caffeine can be dehydrating and set you up for dehydration later in the day. Plus, we lose a fair amount of water in our sleep due to respiration. Hydrating first thing in the morning also kickstarts your metabolism, wakes up digestion, and helps flush out toxins. Add some freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice for an extra healthy boost! 

2. Eat your H2O

Staying hydrated isn’t just about what you drink; it’s also about what you eat. Load up on water-rich fruits and veggies, which not only contribute to your fluid intake but also provide essential vitamins and minerals. Think beyond the usual suspects, like watermelon and cucumbers. Many whole foods contain more water than you think:

Vegetables 90-96 per cent

Fruit 80-90 per cent

Eggs 75 per cent

Meat 65 per cent

3. Avoid dehydrating foods and beverages

Certain foods and drinks can contribute to dehydration. Alcohol, caffeinated beverages, and high-sodium foods (like processed snacks and fast food) can increase your body’s need for water. Instead, opt for hydrating alternatives. Mocktails, for example, are a great way to enjoy a refreshing drink without the dehydrating effects of alcohol. You can make delicious and hydrating mocktails using sparkling water, fresh fruit juices, and herbs, or brew your favourite herbal tea (caffeine-free) at double or triple strength to dilute into a refreshing homemade iced tea.

4. Ditch the sports drinks and make your own electrolyte replenisher

Sweating leads to the loss of essential electrolytes, including sodium (Na+), chloride (Cl-), potassium (K+), magnesium (Mg+), calcium (Ca+), and glucose. Maintaining electrolyte balance is important, but we know those neon-coloured sports drinks are not the way to go about it, right? Here is a simple, homemade electrolyte drink from my recent book, SmartCuts: Biohack Your Healthspan, that you can make at home for mere pennies.

Electrolyte replenishment for heavy sweating 

To hydrate with electrolytes for heavy sweating (exercise, sauna, work in intense heat, etc.):

In 1-1.5 L of water, add:

  • ¼ teaspoon salt (Redmond Real salt, Celtic sea salt)
  • ¼ teaspoon Morton Lite salt (potassium chloride salt)
  • ¼ teaspoon Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda)

This provides just over 1100 mg sodium, just over 1600 mg chloride, 350 mg potassium, 7 mg calcium and 2 mg magnesium.

You could also add a teaspoon of honey for a shot of glucose and fructose and potentially a squeeze of lemon juice for flavour, and you have an excellent electrolyte replacement water for a fraction of the cost of a commercial electrolyte blend. 

**Before adding salt to your hydration protocol, you must honestly assess your health status and the purity of your diet. If you are not pre-hypertensive or hypertensive (high blood pressure), and if you do not have kidney disease, you probably should not be afraid of adding salt. That is provided that you eat a whole-food diet with minimal to no processed food.** If you are interested, I wrote a blog about the hidden power of salt, including sodium, electrolytes and health effects. You can read it HERE.

5. Add some pizzazz!

Plain water can sometimes be boring, leading to a lack of enthusiasm for drinking enough. Make your water more appealing by infusing it with fresh fruits, herbs, and vegetables. Not only does this enhance the flavour, but it also adds a subtle nutritional boost. Try combinations like cucumber and mint, strawberry and basil, or lemon and ginger. Get creative–even fruit ‘scraps’ can be used! I like to save my pineapple cores for this purpose.  Simply add the ingredients to a pitcher of water and let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours to allow the flavours to meld. You can use frozen berries or mango as ice cubes on a hot day, too.

Whether you’re embracing the great outdoors or simply soaking up the sunshine, make hydration a habit and enjoy a summer that’s both fun and healthy. Cheers to a happy, hydrated you!

Yours in health,
Dr. Nathalie

Dr. Nathalie Beauchamp, B.Sc., D.C., IFMCP is the author of the book—Hack Your Health Habits: Simple, Action-Driven, Natural Solutions For People On The Go and the creator of several online health education programs. Dr. Nathalie’s mission is to educate, lead and empower people to take control of their health. She recently launched a new book https://smartcuts.life/

Photo credit: © Odua Images via Canva.com

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