By Ali Lopez
With June and July weather especially hot this year, staying hydrated is critical to remain healthy and strong for workouts. But sometimes water alone doesn’t do it all. And sometimes I get tired of so much water! So what’s a runner to do?
First, just how much hydration do you need as a runner? We’ve all heard the saying that we need eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. Well, just like food needs, hydration is different for everyone — each runner’s body is unique. Some things to take into consideration include body weight, gender, how much you sweat, how hard you are training, and temperature.
According to one study, a good rule of thumb is to multiply your body weight by .5 and drink that many ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, you would drink 100 ounces of water. Again, this is the basic rule — then add in the other factors.
Here is a fun little calculator to help you figure out how much hydration you need.
But water isn’t the only way to meet your hydration needs. You need to keep in mind sodium, potassium, and other minerals as well. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a great way to quench your thirst after hot, summer miles.
Here are a few of my favorite hydration foods and drinks (and remember to rehydrate immediately after a hard workout, especially one in the heat):
I drink a lot of water. Sometimes though, plain water can be so … plain. Instead of buying flavored waters with weird additives and ingredients, how about just making your own. Get creative. Slice your favorite fruit or veggie (strawberry, orange, cucumber), and let sit in a pitcher of water for a few hours. Fresh herbs like mint or basil make it even more special. You also can flavor sparkling waters the same way. Make your own Lacroix! It’s much cheaper.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
A lot of your daily hydration needs can be provided by foods — specifically, fruits and veggies. Eating foods high in water content can provide the added bonus of fiber, electrolytes, and vitamins. With more than 90% water content, some of my favorite hydrating foods include cucumber, lettuce, tomato, celery, zucchini, strawberries, melons, and bell peppers. They also contain sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, vitamin C, phosphorus, iron, and zinc. So a big salad once a day is a delicious way to rehydrate, and you get lots of great nutrition at the same time.
Homemade electrolyte drinks
A great way to get some hydration and those important electrolytes is to make you own drinks. Besides saving money, they are healthier and more fun. My homemade drink provides a great mix of carbs to fuel your muscles and electrolytes (sodium and potassium) to help replace what your body loses through sweat.
- 1 quart of warm water (or use coconut water, green, or herbal tea)
- 1/4 cup or more of unsweetened juice (orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, cranberry, tart cherry)
- 1/4 tsp. fine Himalayan sea salt (has great trace minerals)
- 1-2 TBSP sweetener (optional). I like maple syrup, but you can use honey or agave
Combine all ingredients and mix until sweetener and salt have dissolved. You can use a blender, a shaker bottle, or just mix it in a pitcher. Chill and enjoy!
So, yes, this is a fruit, but I felt like it deserved its own category because in the summer, nothing quenches my thirst more than watermelon. You can eat it by the piece (I like to sprinkle mine with sea salt) or you can juice it or blend it. Or try my Watermelon Gazpacho recipe below. It has a great mix of salts, minerals, and natural sugars that rehydrate better than plain water and similar to a sports drink. Oh, and it tastes amazing!
- 8 cups seedless watermelon, finely diced
- 1 medium cucumber peeled, seeded, and finely diced
- 1 medium tomato, finely diced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 small shallot, fine dice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for topping
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Salt, to taste (start with 1/2 teaspoon)
- 1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced, optional
- Optional toppings: diced avocado, crumbled feta
Mix diced veggies with basil, garlic, shallot, oil, vinegar, jalapeño, and salt in a large bowl. In batches, puree all except 1 or 2 cups of the mixture in a blender until smooth. Taste and season as needed.
Chill for at least an hour (3 – 4 is even better.) Taste again. When you are ready to serve, top with remaining diced mixture and some more olive oil and any of the optional toppings that you like.
Have a fueling question for Ali? Post it below in the comments section or email MRG with your healthy-eating questions at heather [at] michiganrunnergirl [dot] com
Ali Lopez is a northern Michigan runner, chef and health coach. You can learn more about her at her web site Healthy Chef Ali. She’s also on Facebook here »
You can listen to a conversation about running and eating between Ali and Heather on this MRG podcast episode here »