As we enter into the warmest month of the year, it’s important to take the appropriate steps to prevent dehydration. Water helps our body in many functions including digestion, transport and absorption of nutrients, excretion of wastes, and maintenance of body temperature. When we don’t get enough water we can experience mild symptoms such as thirst, nausea, and loss of appetite or more severe symptoms such as dizziness, weakness, muscle spasms, and delirium. These symptoms can start with as little as 1-2% loss of body weight from water loss.
Fluid intake recommendations vary greatly, depending on such things as your age, gender, weight, and activity level. A good starting point for meeting hydration requirements is to follow the Institute of Medicine’s guidelines of 2.7 liters (91 ounces) of total water for women and 3.7 liters (125 ounces daily) for men. Total water includes the fluids coming from both water and food (with about 20% of our fluid intake coming from food). If you are exercising or spending extended time in the heat, you will need additional fluids to replace water losses. Aim to get at least 4-8oz of water for every 15-20 minutes of exercise. You can also weigh yourself before and after exercise to measure your losses. Drink 16oz of fluids for every pound of body weight lost.
Here’s a few more tips to help you stay well hydrated.
- Consume foods with high water content (namely fruits and veggies like tomatoes, celery, cucumbers, melons, and berries)
- Carry a water bottle with you at all times
- Set goals for water intake throughout the day
- Change it up by adding fruit to your water, or try out low calorie options like coconut water, unsweetened tea, or crystal light pure (sweetened with Stevia)
- Consider electrolyte replacement for activity exceeding 90 minutes
- Take frequent water breaks during practices and workouts
- Exercise in the morning and/or evening to avoid the extreme heat
- Observe the color of your urine (if dark in color and/or has a strong odor you are likely dehydrated)
Keep in mind, everybody is unique and these are rules. It is essential to tune in to your body by drinking when you’re parched and registering with check whether you’re encountering any early indications of lack of hydration. With a little care and planning, we can be solid and cheerful as we have a ton of fun in the sun!