By Julie Cornelius, MS
Hydration is important year round, and becomes even more important when the temperature starts to rise. Getting enough fluids during your workout and throughout the day is important for health and improved performance. As a general rule of thumb, you should aim for about half your body weight in ounces per day in water.
So for a 180 pound athlete: 180÷2= 90 ounces
That 90 ounces does not take into account any activity, so if you are exercising in the heat and sweating a lot, you will need more. The best fluid to drink when not exercising is water. It is sugar free and just what your body needs. A lot of people complain to me that water is boring, so here are some good alternatives:
-Green tea (either iced or hot, just try for unsweetened!)
-Seltzer water- either plain or unsweetened flavored
-Add some lemon or lime to plain water to add some flavor
What about when you are exercising? When you are sweating a lot in the heat, a sports drink may be beneficial. I recommend a sports drink for any activity over 1.5-2 hours, or 1-1.5 hours if it is really hot. Sports drinks contain important electrolytes that your body loses through sweat. Some of these electrolytes include sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. The big one we need to be concerned about getting in a sports drink is sodium. The rest of them we get throughout the day in our food. We do get sodium as well, but we can lose a lot of sodium through sweating. If we lose too much and only replace our fluids by drinking water, it can lead to a potentially dangerous condition called hyponatremia.
Try to sip on a sports drink every 15-20 minutes, and aim for around 20 ounces per hour. Any more than this cannot be absorbed by your body. This also means its extra important to start off well hydrated by drinking enough before your workout, as well as the day before.
There are a lot of great sports drink on the market, but its easy to make your own at home too! You can even mix up a big batch and keep it in the fridge for your workouts throughout the week. Here are two recipes for making one 20-22 oz. bottle of sports drink.
-3-4 tbsp sugar (I prefer organic cane sugar)
-1/8 tsp salt
-20-22 ounces water
-Lemon and lime juice to taste (can be fresh squeezed, or the squeeze bottles work well too)
If making a large batch ahead of time, add sugar to water and heat until dissolved. Allow to cool and add salt and juice. I have made this in a hurry right before a ride- the sugar might not be completely dissolved but it still works. Just make sure to shake up your bottle a little bit before sipping.
-10 oz 100% fruit juice
-10-12 oz water
-1/8 tsp salt
Mix all ingredients together in your bottle.
Julie Cornelius, MS is Co-founder of Potential Energy Training & Nutrition. She has an extensive background in nutrition and graduated from the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ with both her Bachelors of Science and Masters of Science in Nutrition. She has worked in fitness studios helping clients achieve their nutrition goals, spent two years teaching college nutrition courses, and was the founder of Julie Bar, an energy bar company. Julie is a long time cyclist and mountain biker who loves being outdoors. Julie helps individuals to meet their nutrition goals, whether it is eating to win an endurance mountain bike race, losing weight, or just eating to be healthier.