The summers in the Southeast are hot and humid. While this is not a new revelation, athletes and active individuals should make extra effort to stay hydrated.
As a sports dietitian for the University of Georgia, I often see athletes lose a few pounds of sweat in a single practice. Hydration is important because dehydration can lead to performance declines, increased risk of muscle cramping and heat illness. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or elite athlete, these tips can help you prevent dehydration and have a happy, healthy summer.
Three Simple Ways to Check your Hydration Status:
- Check your urine color – if you are hydrated, your urine color will be pale yellow (it looks similar to lemonade) and if you are dehydrated your urine color will be dark yellowish orange (similar to apple juice).
- Pay attention to thirst – when you reach the point of feeling thirsty you are probably already dehydrated.
- Replace sweat loss – weigh yourself before and after exercise. For every pound lost, drink 2-3 cups of fluid.
Five Tips for Staying Hydrated:
- Choose the right fluids – hydrate with water, low-fat milks, and 100% fruit juices.
- Eat water-rich foods – including: fresh fruit, yogurt, sherbet, popsicles and smoothies.
- Carry a reusable bottle around with you throughout the day – having beverages constantly accessible is a key to you to staying hydrated.
- During exercise, drink water to hydrate.
- Eat salty foods to help replace sodium lost in sweat – replacing the sodium will help you absorb the fluids you drink.
Smoothies are a wonderful rehydration beverage and a favorite of those in sports nutrition. They cool you down and provide you with fluids. Here’s a favorite Georgia Bulldog athlete smoothie recipe
- 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
- 1/2 frozen banana
- 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup Apple juice
- 1/4 cup low-fat milk
- 1 tablespoon strawberry jelly or jam
- Water and ice as needed for consistency
- Add all ingredients into blender.
- Blend until smooth.
With these tips, you can stay hydrated and active this summer.
Maria Breen, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a sports nutritionist for the University of Georgia Athletic Association. She is a certified specialist in sports dietetics. In her position she coordinates nutrition and meal planning with the UGA student-athletes.