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Hydration and Exercise

Hydration and Exercise Essentials

Writing about hydration tips to beat summer heat would be incomplete without additional information on hydration during exercise (especially in summer heat). Most individuals that engage in low/moderate intensity exercise for less than 60 minutes short-duration can stick with water for hydration. Start your exercise routine well-hydrated, sip 4 to 8 fluid oz. of water every 15 minutes or so, and drink water after you are finished.

Exercising in summer heat (extreme temperatures) and/or for more than 60 minutes calls for more than water for optimum hydration. Consider supplementing with a sports drink. —Sports drinks contain a dilute mixture of carbohydrate and electrolytes. —Most contain about 50 kcal/cup with about 3 to 4 teaspoons of carbohydrate  (sugar) and moderate amounts of sodium (lost in sweat) and potassium. They are formulated to contain less sugar than juices, for optimal, fast absorption (6-8% carbohydrate). A risk of exercising in extreme heat, for long periods, without a sports beverage, is developing “hyponatremia” (low blood sodium). Diluted blood causes nausea, vomiting and can lead to serious health impairment, even death.

Hydration: Homemade Sports Drinks and Post-Workout

You may dilute juices to create a 6% carbohydrate solution. Try V-8 (high in sodium and potassium) and/or orange juice (high in potassium). Mix with water in a 50/50 ratio. This ‘homemade’ sports drink, like commercial varieties, is also more quickly (better) absorbed than straight juice.

Weigh yourself before and after heavy workouts, especially those that cause excessive perspiration. For every pound you lose during your workout, drink 2 cups of fluid. After workouts, you need to replenish glycogen stores and you need moderate amounts of protein so consider drinking a truly nourishing beverage (with some sugar), like low-fat chocolate milk. Another suggestion is to blend a quick refreshing smoothie made with fruit and/or vegetables, yogurt and a bit of juice and/or milk. Drinking a smoothie post-workout offers hydration benefits and key nutrients such as protein and carbohydrates.

Tips to Stay Hydrated in the Summer HEAT!

Water is the most essential nutrient and substance after air for sustaining life. The human body is composed of approximately 60% water. Lean body mass (muscle) contains more water than fat, 70 to 75% versus approximately 40% for fat. Thus, men’s bodies, as well as athletes’ bodies, that have more proportionately more lean muscle tissue, contain more water than bodies with less lean muscle mass and more fat.

The functions of water in the human body are many. It is the medium in which all biochemical reactions occur, is essential for removing waste and transporting nutrients, maintaining blood volume and circulation throughout the body and maintaining body temperature. Regulating body temperature is particularly important in hot weather and during exercise (inside or outside, especially in hot weather).

During physical activity, your internal temperature raises. This heat travels through your bloodstream to your skin. This causes you to sweat, your bodies’ attempt to cool. Evaporated sweat cools your body…returning your body temperature to normal, which is important for optimal function. You must replenish fluids regularly. Once you feel thirst, you have lost approximately 1% of your body fluid. A 2% water loss can cause noticeable adverse symptoms, such as extreme fatigue. Fluid needs depend upon external factors as well – even the clothing you are wearing!!

Top Hydration Tips

  1. Drink enough fluids to prevent thirst. Hydrating fluids include: water, tea, coffee (try iced in summer), juices/diluted juices, milk and soups. Caffeine (in tea and coffee) was once considered to be a diuretic but recent research suggest that a slight diuretic effect doesn’t discount their hydrating properties. If you don’t enjoy plain water, try carbonated water or add natural flavoring to it (mint leaves, cucumber slices, citrus fruit wedges).
  2. Monitor your urine color and volume. It should be a pale yellow color. If it is dark yellow, cloudy or pungent (in odor) you may be dehydrated.
  3. Consume five to ten servings of fruits and vegetables daily. All foods contain SOME water, but fruits and vegetables are higher in water content than other foods and can help quench your thirst. Keep melons, citrus fruits, juicy pears, cucumbers, tomatoes, berries, etc…
  4. Alcohol is very dehydrating and when consuming alcohol, your urine may indicate you are hydrated when in fact, you are not. Alternate sips of your alcoholic beverage with water; never exercise with a hangover and consume alcohol in moderation.


Zucchini Nutrition Facts

There’s zucchini…and then, well, there’s ZUCCHINI (see photo). This popular variety of summer vegetable is light, refreshing, versatile and delicious. Zucchini is easy to grow in a home garden….and boy, does it grow. Summer squash is in peak season early in the summer but home gardeners may not harvest it until mid-summer or later. Eating produce in-season ensures fantastic flavor and lower prices. Late summer and early fall is not time to wind down your trips to the farmer’s markets, but to kick it into high-gear as August is a big harvest month.

Summer squashes are relatives to winter squashes, such as pumpkins as well as melons and cucumbers. They belong to the Cucurbitaceae family of plants. Zucchini has a soft shell and creamy white flesh. In terms of selection, choose firm zucchini (free of blemishes) with a shiny, slightly prickly green skin. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days. DO NOT wash until you are ready to use.

This low-carbohydrate vegetable offers 20 calories per cup, sliced, 0 g fat, 4 g carbohydrate, 3 g sugar, 1 g protein, 1 g dietary fiber and 10 mg sodium. Zucchini is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of other essential micronutrients, such as molybdenum, vitamin B6 and manganese. Summer squash is one of the best food sources of various carotenoids (antioxidants found in dark green/orange veggies), such as alpha- and beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin. Supporting healthy eyesight, offering anti-cancer benefits and supporting blood sugar metabolism are just three of the many health benefits of this nutrient-dense veggie. Eat raw (as a snack or on top of a salad) or slice and steam to retain the most nutrients (skin-on). Zucchini can be frozen, but doing so will soften the flesh…however, frozen summer squash actually retains its antioxidant content (potency) very well.

You can find recipes for zucchini bread, cake, muffins, etc. What about something different and super-easy? Cut your zucchini length-wise in 1/4″ slices. Brush lightly with olive oil and grill seasoning (and/or seasonings you like). Grill (on a pre-heated grill) until tender, about 3-4 minutes per side!