Good hydration isn’t just about drinking lots of water—especially when you’re out in the hot summer sun. Even if you get your requisite 64 oz of water a day, exercising in the heat require the right minerals and electrolytes to keep your body moving.
To determine whether you’re dehydrated, the simplest rule of thumb is to check the color of your urine—it should be a light straw color or lighter.
“I’m a big proponent of hydrating before you exercise,” says Dr. Andrew Datti, naturopath at our north Boulder location. “Shoot for a liter before, a liter or two on the way, and a liter on the way back.” He also recommends drinking mineral water or natural spring water, which will naturally have more nutrients and electrolytes than filtered or tap water.
So what are some other ways to keep from dehydrating and losing electrolytes? Dr. Rebecca Phillips, DC, from our Albuquerque location, says to make sure you’re packing along the right kind of snacks that can replenish the nutrients and sugars your body is burning off.
Dr. Phillips cites a study done on hikers in the Grand Canyon, who exercised in 120 degree heat. She says that those that drank just Gatorade didn’t get very far; the group that just drank water fared slightly better; but the group that ate two salty crackers along with each 8 oz of water didn’t overheat.
The key is in allowing your body to sweat, which requires salt. As such, Dr. Phillips recommends turning to salty chips or soda crackers when you start feeling wilted, extra sensitive to the heat, or are losing good judgment.
“If you’re legs start getting tired, then you need other electrolytes: sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium,” she says. She recommends Oxylent Multivitamins, which come in single-serve packets that are easy to stash in a daypack and add to your water bottle. “Those nutrients will allow your muscles to work again and revive you for awhile.”
“When you ‘hit the wall,’ meaning you start becoming dizzy or your balance is off, that’s one indicator that you’ve used up your glycogen stores and your blood sugar is dropping,” says Dr. Datti. That’s when it’s good to have sugar on hand, along with with protein—try our Pharmaca brand Mighty Omega-3 Mix, which features chocolate, almonds, cranberries, walnuts and blueberries.
If your blood sugar drop is really extreme and you start sweating profusely and feeling shaky, it can help to have some liquid sugar on hand, such as orange juice, coconut water, or even beer, says Dr. Phillips. Dr. Datti agrees that coconut water can be a great way to replace electrolytes and get some natural sugar.
Pick up hydration and snacks for your next outing at a Pharmaca near you.