By Karen Asp
During the heat of summer, staying hydrated is even more important, especially if you’re exercising outdoors. While plain water should still be your everyday go-to, try a few of these strategies as well.
Chill before you sweat.
If you’re looking to set a new record in that 10K or sprint triathlon, slurp an ice slurry, essentially an unflavored snow cone, 45 minutes before your event. When runners did this prior to a 10K in 82-degree weather, they ran 15 seconds faster on average, per a study from the International Journal of Sports Medicine. “The ice slurry increased body heat storage capacity, which allowed runners to push harder,” says Jason Kai Wei Lee, Ph.D., study principal investigator from the Defence Medical & Environmental Research Institute, DFO Laboratories, in Singapore.
Say cheers with beer.
Good news if you’re planning to hit up a brewpub post-hike. In one study, men who rehydrated after a treadmill run with beer (22 ounces, 4.5 percent alcohol by volume), followed by unlimited water, were just as hydrated as men who drank the same amount of liquid but only water. “Drinking beer, as long as it’s in moderation, doesn’t impair hydration or hinder your recovery,” says Manuel J. Castillo, M.D., Ph.D., study co-author and professor of medical physiology at the University of Granada. Beer, after all, is 95 percent water. So go ahead and order a beer to quench your thirst. Just make sure to ask for water as well.
Fuel up with salt.
A little extra salt before your next workout may actually help keep dehydration at bay, according to a study from the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. When male cyclists ate chicken noodle soup (with almost 1,400 mg of sodium) 45 minutes before exercising in the heat, they drank — and retained — more water during their ride than cyclists who pre-fueled with water alone. “Sodium may help encourage you to drink more,” says Kelly Pritchett, Ph.D., R.D., assistant professor in nutrition and exercise science at Central Washington University, especially if you’re exercising for more than an hour or at a high intensity in the summer heat. A handful of pretzels or a cup of tomato juice or sports drink with sodium are all sufficient.
Try a new kind of water.
Coconut: A popular alternative-water choice, coconut water is refreshing with a sweet, nutty taste and clean finish. An 8-ounce bottle boasts about 15 percent of your daily value for potassium. (45-55 calories per 8 oz. of plain, 55-70 calories for flavored)
Cactus: Light and earthy with hints of berry flavor, it’s water plus the juice of prickly pear cactus fruit. Some brands also contain the fruit’s extract, which helped quell hangover symptoms in one study. (25 calories per 8 oz.)
Artichoke: Added natural flavors like apple and spearmint help to balance out its bitter taste. It has the same anti-inflammatory antioxidants as artichokes, but doesn’t have many other vitamins to speak of. (40 calories per 8 oz.)
Maple: This watery sap tapped directly from maple trees delivers a subtle hint of maple sweetness along with some trace minerals and electrolytes. (15-20 calories per 8 oz.)
(EatingWell is a magazine and website devoted to healthy eating as a way of life. Online at www.eatingwell.com.)