Summer is right around the corner and so are the heat and outdoor activities. Warmer days and sunshine are great contributors for bringing more and more people to the outdoor environment and exercising either alone or in groups. Whether you love or hate training, running, racing or swimming in the sunny heat, making sure you are always properly hydrated and with your electrolytes replenished is a must.
With so many options for ‘hydration’, it seems that simply saying “stay hydrated” or “drink fluids” doesn’t really cut it anymore. The more people become active and practice sports or physical activities, the more that industry evolves in itself. Sports Nutrition has been on a constant and exponential growth being backed up by science and studies each and everyday now. Some might feel very overwhelmed by the amount of options on the market today in terms of supplements and replenishing drinks.
In this article, I want to explore what ‘staying hydrated’ really means and how you can tailor what product you will consume based on your specific needs going into another summer season of fun and outdoor experiences.
So, Summer is almost here. What are some cautions we should take when exercising outdoors and how do we prevent things such as dehydration, cramps and tiredness/weakness while playing outside?
As more people seem to get more active during summer days and choose activities such as running, biking, outdoor yoga, swimming, frisbee, soccer, baseball, and etc, the search for electrolyte replacement drinks and supplements tends to grow as well. With the amount of options available today, it becomes very frustrating to pick something when you don’t quite understand what exactly you should be looking for in terms of recovery and rehydration. I will try to help you understand a little more about sports drinks and how you can pick and choose what option is best for you. To start off, let’s talk about the main things you should be considering in your workout/activity.
One of the first and main things that should be considered is the duration of your activity. How long is your outdoor activity or workout? You need to take that into consideration to understand if you are actually losing too much liquid and electrolytes in order to know how to properly rehydrate. It’s important to know that during exercise the body’s thirst mechanism is less sensitive than at rest, making an approach to fluids important especially when working at a higher intensity and warmer environments. That means that it’s highly recommended to properly hydrate not only after a workout/activity but also during it.
As RD Stevie Smith would put, “As an athlete, you can choose a variety of products to fuel and these should be balanced with a plan that incorporates fluids. While solid foods and highly concentrated carbohydrates can be an appealing fuel choice, they can reduce the absorption of fluids. Grabbing a sports drink is ideal to help to meet both fluid and carbohydrate needs while keeping blood sugars stable through your training session or race.”
Proper hydration is key in regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, and transporting nutrients throughout your body. When we exercise, we increase our hydration demand because of our sweat rate and thereby making our pre-, mid-, and post-workout hydration essential. Here are some tips to make sure you stay Properly Hydrated during your Spring and Summer activities:
I personally hate going into a workout already feeling like I won’t perform to my highest standards so I like to make sure that my pre-workout meal and fluid intake are always ideal.
Heading into a workout already at a fluid deficit can negatively impact not only the duration at a high intensity level but also the performance that you’re able to achieve in a workout. Drinking about 500 mL (~17 ounces) of water or electrolyte drinks around 2 hours before a workout promotes adequate hydration.
Start drinking early in your session! The aim is to drink enough fluid to account for what’s lost from sweat. Performing a simple sweat test can help you determine what your exercise sweat rate is. As studied before, if you’re training in hot, humid, or sunny conditions - Summer time for example - your sweat rate will increase, along with your fluid needs. Environmental heat stress can challenge the limits of human cardiovascular and temperature regulation, body fluid balance, and thus aerobic performance.
During a two hour swim session, I probably go through 1L or more of sports drinks, which would be the equivalent to 34 fl.oz., and that’s only DURING the workout, not considering what I drink before and after! During summertime I’d say that quantity of Electrolyte Replacement drinks would even double for me.
That same study suggests that for exercise and activities over one hour, these fluids should include both carbohydrates and electrolytes, specifically sodium. Aiming for 600-1200 mL of sports drink that contains 4-8% carbohydrates to maintain blood glucose levels and delay fatigue, plus 500-700mg of sodium per liter to replace sweat losses and prevent hyponatremia.
Most people tend to drink insufficient amounts of fluid post-workout session to make up for their sweat losses. They simply don’t know better or don’t give it enough importance. But this is an important time to rehydrate! If you’re recovering from (or prepping for) a big session or hot conditions, staying on top of your fluid intake during the day is extremely important. A simple way to assess this is your urine color in the morning -- straw or lemonade color is a sign of hydration while dark urine is indicative of inadequate hydration.
After a long session of swimming I always make sure I am properly hydrating for the next day, as I want to keep my recovery rate at optimum level for my following workouts. I also like to carry a bottle with me everywhere I go so if not drinking a sports drink, you’ll probably see me chugging water all day.
With the increase in demand, the availability for natural and organic products of all types has also increased so it shouldn’t be hard to find substitute foods and drinks for what you already have been consuming. Things such as “Low-sugar”, “No Artificial”, and “zero calories” should do the work in getting your attention, but make sure you read the labels and be aware if the packages are lying or not.
One of my favorite parts of the whole process is to search and get to know more about products that fit into my fit lifestyle and are on the same page as me in terms of longevity in what I do. I might be a professional swimmer now and somehow be ‘forced’ into watching my diet and what goes into my body, but I know for a fact that one day when I don’t swim anymore I will still be very worried and concerned about my health.
Luckily the availability for low-sugar natural products has been on the rise and I have been able to refuel and replenish my body with the right amount of calories, vitamins and electrolytes while staying on track of my lifestyle goals. Products such as Hydra Guard Sports Drink are available on the market and online and they help me on a daily basis with my training routine.
Paul Millsap, 4x NBA All-Star and Hydra-Guard Partner has always made his nutrition and health a priority, which reflects his elite performance and extremely successful career in the NBA. Paul’s ability to maintain playing at the highest level has been nothing short of amazing. It's a professional career that every athlete strives for.
The key for longevity in any athlete’s career is to take care of their bodies first and that's something that Paul has obviously done very well. Hydra-Guard Sports Drink caught Paul’s attention in early 2019, when he officially partnered with them in efforts to bring the brands healthy benefits more readily available to more households across the country.
"Being a professional athlete naturally encourages me and my family to live a healthy lifestyle. Hydra-Guard Sports Drink raises the bar to unprecedented heights with its beverage innovation. It’s packed with electrolytes, and being an all natural sports drink with low sugars is a game changer, this product is changing the industry," says Paul.