Top tips to stay hydrated from a registered dietitian nutritionist. I’m answering common questions including how much water to drink in the summer, what counts for hydration, and fun ways to stay hydrated if you don’t like water.
Summer brings plenty of heat and humidity. So it’s important to stay hydrated. Be sure to know the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness, take charge to prevent issues and and seek medical attention as needed.
Why is water important?
Water makes up more than 60% of the human body, and plays an essential role in countless metabolic processes including digestion and brain function. Dehydration can cause constipation, abdominal pain, and lethargy among other things.
Some unexpected perks of proper hydration? Clearer skin, cushioned joints, and a lower risk for tooth decay.
The Institutes of Medicine provides a general fluid intake recommendation. They recommend a total of 3.7 Liters (~15 cups) for men and 2.7 Liters (~11 cups) of fluids for women. These numbers include all fluid intake from both beverages and foods.
When it is really hot and humid, if you spend time exercising outside, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or are sick with a fever or GI bug, you will have increased fluid needs.
Is 8 cups of water per day enough?
That 8 cups of water per day is really not based in science and may or may not apply to your personal needs.
Your fluid needs vary based on many different factors including but not limited to:
– Body mass
– Activity level
– Environment (whether it’s hot, dry or humid, for example)
– How much you talk and whether you breath from your mouth or nose
– Any special procedures, medication or treatments you might be using
Also, in really hot weather, pay attention to how much you are sweating and urinating. If you are not doing much of either, this is a surefire sign that you are dehydrated.
Prioritize rehydration quickly and limit your physical activity so you don’t unnecessarily lose water, breath through your nose not your mouth and reduce how much you speak until you are properly hydrated.
Tips for Staying Hydrated in Summer
- Drink up. Add water to your routine but also any other non-alcoholic beverages – they count. And note: plain water is usually sufficient for <1 hour of exercise. Sports drinks are recommended for >1 hour of exercise or if you’ll be sweating a lot. This is important especially for anyone exercising in the heat or working outside for extended periods.
- Hydrate with food. Certain fruits and vegetables (like tomatoes, cucumbers, citrus fruits, melons, leafy greens, and berries) are great sources of water. Eat them just as is or maybe in a salad like my Watermelon Feta Arugula Salad.
- Use a reusable water bottle to keep water with you, even when you’re on-the-go. This may sound like an obvious one but having it with you is key and often having a bottle on your work desk can also encourage and remind you to drink. My favorite water bottles are stainless steel, easy to clean and long-lasting. I’ve never had to replace one. But I have several and recommend you keep a few on hand so one is always clean.
- Avoid excess alcohol. Alcohol can have a dehydrating effect on the body. So take care to keep your alcohol intake to moderate levels and drink plenty of water when you do have alcoholic beverages.