Summer Hydration

This week, I turned to one of my favorite dieticians (full disclosure she’s in my family but you’d love her anyway), Justine Hays, M.S., R.D. who is going to discuss hydration. Justine may live up in Buffalo, NY but she knows how hot Virginia Summer’s can be. As we stare down the Summer heat it’s good to have a plan for how to stay hydrated. Here’s what Justine shared:

We all know that when we are working out and going hard in a cycling class, we need to hydrate. You’re sweaty at the end of it (heck, probably five minutes in) and thirsty. You grab that water bottle and gulp it down.

When our bodies lose water through sweat, tears, going to the bathroom, and respiration, it makes it harder for our bodies to basic jobs, like regulating your body temperature and eliminating waste. Being dehydrated can make you feel a whole lot of ways- and none of them are good.

·        Headache

·        Dry mouth

·        Moodiness

·        Loss of focus

·        Itchy or dry eyes

·        Dull skin

·        Dark, pungent urine

·        Increased heart rate at rest

So how much should you drink? Have you heard the ol’ 8 cups a day recommendation? Well, it’s fine as a guide or goal but know there is no science behind that figure. Heard about drinking half your body weight in ounces of water? Another great goal or guide but it may not be for everyone. The best way to tell if you’re hydrated is to check your pee. Clear or pale yellow means you’re adequately hydrated- Keep it up! Darker than that? Grab a cup and drink it down.

Wondering what you should drink? Sports drinks, tap water, alkaline water, electrolyte water- there are a lot of options!

·        Sports drink- You almost never need one. If you’re a football player doing “two a days” in the summer heat, then go for it. Otherwise you’re probably catching all you need with a glass of water and a banana.

·        Electrolyte water- Similar to sports drink but without the added sugar, you probably don’t need a special water. While electrolytes are essential for controlling fluid balance, blood pressure, and helping with muscle contraction you don’t need to source your electrolytes from water. Most water, even tap, contains electrolytes; though in varying amounts. Your best bet is to stay hydrated routinely with regular water and consume fruits and vegetables to get your electrolytes in. (See the above water and a banana tip.)

·        Alkaline water- Proponents of alkaline water believe the less acidic water will cause the body to neutralize the acid in your bloodstream and lead to better health and performance.  Your body does a really good job of maintaining tight control over what pH is needed for different organs and body systems on its own. While there is limited research, anecdotal evidence does suggest athletes and exercisers may benefit over time.  If you’re an occasional exerciser, plain old tap is fine. Save your money and use it on an extra class! (source:

Feeling thirsty? Try flavoring your water for an enhancement that will entice you to drink more:

·        Lemons, Limes, Oranges

·        Cucumbers (use the rounded ends that don’t make it in salad)

·        Strawberries (Use the leafy green tops)

·        Frozen berries

·        Herbal tea bags

·        Muddled mint


Justine Hays is a registered dietitian with a passion for community nutrition, individual wellness and, public health and nutrition policy. She regularly writes about nutrition and wellness for a wide range of online and print publications, sharing evidence-based nutrition information in a practical and fun way. She is driven by the opportunity to improve lives through realistic and attainable lifestyle changes. Finding different ways to stay active and trying different recipes at home are her favorite ways to unwind.

Elizabeth Kamp