Water drinking comes naturally for some, but it can be more challenging for others—and the advice to simply chug more H20 can be a bit…boring. Don’t sweat; we’ve got some creative hacks to help you stay effortlessly hydrated this summer.
The recent heat wave has hydration top of mind. Along with increasing temps, our thirst levels are on the rise. Add in physical activity (here’s looking at you, July challengers), and staying on top of your hydration game is needed for optimal functioning as well as peak performance. Dehydration can cause symptoms of brain fog, fatigue, dizziness, muscle cramps, or disguised feelings of hunger. We know that water is essential for survival and plays a vital role in many of our body’s processes (read more about that here), but it can still be hard to meet our daily quota. We’re sharing creative tips to help you stay adequately hydrated during the hot summer months—without making it feeling like a chore.
How much water should I drink?
To start, it’s important to know how much water we need to consume. Needs vary person to person and depend on factors such as climate, activity level, diet and fiber intake, etc., but a good guideline is to consume half of your body weight in fluid ounces, adding several additional cups if you exercise (to replenish water loss through sweat).
How do I know if I’m well hydrated?
The best marker of hydration is the color of urine. Your pee should be pale yellow in color, not dark yellow or amber—a sign that you need more fluids. Keep an eye on this throughout the day to ensure you stay on track. If you feel thirsty, it’s a sign of dehydration, so drink up and focus on prevention next.
Got it! Now try these daily hacks to stay hydrated throughout the day:
1. Make it routine. Practicing consistent behaviors will make them routine, ultimately requiring less mental energy to happen. Have a go at these healthy habits:
· Drink a tall glass of lemon water first thing in the morning to replace water loss during sleep and jumpstart your digestive system (a favorite health tip in general).
· Make it a habit to tote around a BPA-free reusable water bottle or tumbler throughout the day; there are so many stylish options and sizes out there to choose from.
· Set a goal to finish an entire bottle of water between meals. Our bodies absorb water better when we sip throughout the day vs. gulping all at once.
· Use visual cues to promote consumption. Mark lines on the outside of your bottle that correlates with your daily schedule (drink up to this line before the mid-morning meeting, for example). Or add rubber bands to the outside of your bottle, removing one each time you drink 8 oz.
· At night, wind down with a cup of tea or sip on a glass of water with a magnesium supplement. Yes, tea and coffee count towards your water consumption, but sadly, alcohol does not.
2. Upgrade your water. Nothing quenches thirst like a cold glass of water on a hot day or after a grueling workout. But when you need an extra nudge to drink up, jazz things up by adding citrus fruit, herbs, or fancy ice cubs to your glass for a subtle hint of flavor. Glam up your water with some of these options:
· Add slices of citrus fruits (lemon, oranges, lime, grapefruit) or cucumber. Peel off the skin of fruit for a less bitter taste.
· Toss in fresh or frozen berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries). Freeze berries in your ice cube tray for a pop of color.
· Muddle fresh herbs such as mint, basil, rosemary or lavender before adding water to unlock their flavor and aroma.
· Try a dash of cayenne pepper or some chopped ginger root with lemon for a little spice. Boiling the ginger then putting it over ice can yield more flavor.
· Blend up watermelon cubes with freshly squeezed lime or coconut water and aloe for a super hydrating juice.
· Chug some chia! Small but mighty, chia seeds pack a lot of nutrition (omega-3’s, fiber, protein, calcium, magnesium, and more) and absorb 9-10 times their weight in water. To make chia fresca, add 1-2 tbsp of chia seeds to 2 cups of water with about 1-2 tbsp fresh juice (lemon, lime, grapefruit), and a dash of sweetener to taste. Shake in a mason jar to combine and let sit for 10-20 minutes in the refrigerator.
3. Eat water-loving foods. Food should not be your sole source of water, but it does count towards your recommended daily amount making it easier (and tastier) to up your intake. Mother nature is the ultimate Queen, giving us hydrating foods when we need them most. Raw salads pack a punch when it comes to water content, and greens such as spinach and romaine offer nearly as much water as iceberg lettuce along with more nutrients (so reach for those salads!). Also aim to include these high water-content foods in your diet:
4. Drink a post-workout smoothie. A clever way to replenish your water loss during exercise is to blend up a post-workout smoothie. Our bodies naturally crave more liquids in the warmer weather, and smoothies are a great way to amp up water intake from whole foods along with other nutrients needed for recovery. Focus on including carbs, protein and some healthy fat. While nut milks are hydrating, you can swap them out for coconut water for an added boost of electrolytes (or a dash of Himalayan salt). If you use coconut water, limit the amount of fruit you include to avoid too much sugar.
5. There’s an app for that (or a friend). Technology and other people can help us stay on course when we need external reminders. An free app called Waterlogged can help you set personalized daily goals and track your progress, complete with custom photos and graphs to monitor consumption by day, week, or year. Loop in colleagues, friends, and family members to help you stay mindful of your refills at home or at the office.
Proper hydration is essential—and the wide range of benefits include greater energy levels, glowing skin, sharp thinking, better digestion, and optimal performance. Find what tricks work for you and drink up!
Blogpost written by Ascend Health Coach and content editor, Ashley H.