As the weather heats up, it's more important than ever to make sure you're keeping hydrated. Hydration is key for overall health and well-being, but it's especially important in the summertime when we're more likely to be active outdoors. In this blog post, we'll discuss what hydration is and why it's so important, as well as list some of the best foods for getting electrolytes.
What exactly is "hydration"?
Hydration is the process of replenishing the body's fluids. These fluids help to transport nutrients around the body, regulate body temperature, and protect our organs. When we're dehydrated, our bodies don't function as well as they should. We may experience headaches, dizziness, fatigue, or muscle cramps. In extreme cases, dehydration can lead to serious health problems like heat stroke or kidney failure.
How much more fluid should I be drinking?
The amount of fluids you need depends on a number of factors, including your age, activity level, and climate.
An incredibly simply way of monitoring your hydration status which, in turn, will lead to you adjusting your fluid intake is going by urine colour.
Your urine should ideally be clear to straw yellow in colour. If it is darker than that then you will need to increase your fluid intake.
A practical recommendation that we use with our clients is to aim for 300 - 500ml of fluid per hour. This recommendation would roughly double during times of exercise (or possibly increase further if it were particular intense exercise and or a more humid / hot climate they were exercising in).
Some people worry about overhydrating, but it's very rare to drink too much water.
You would have to drink a lot of fluids in a short period of time for it to be dangerous. However, if you're taking certain medications or have a medical condition like heart failure, kidney disease, or diabetes, you may need to limit your fluid intake. Check with your doctor if you're not sure how much fluid you should be drinking.
Just what are "electrolytes"?
It's important to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to stay properly hydrated. But in addition to water, you also need electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals that help conduct electricity in the body and are essential for proper hydration. They also play a role in muscle contraction and nerve function. That’s why electrolytes are so important for athletes, who lose them through sweat during exercise.
Common electrolytes include sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. You can get electrolytes from fluids like sports drinks or coconut water, or from foods like bananas, sweet potatoes, spinach, and avocados.
Top Ten Electrolyte Rich Foods
The best way to replenish electrolytes is through food and fluids. Here are our top ten food sources that are rich in electrolytes:
Coconut water: This natural beverage is an excellent source of potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium—the four main electrolytes. It’s also low in calories and fat-free.
Dairy products: Milk, cheese, and yogurt are all good sources of electrolytes, especially calcium.
Leafy greens: Spinach and other leafy greens are high in potassium. They’re also a good source of magnesium, calcium, and sodium.
Fish: Salmon, tuna, and other fish are excellent sources of electrolytes, including potassium, magnesium, and sodium.
Fruits: Banana, watermelon, oranges, grapes, and other fruits are packed with potassium. Some (like oranges) also contain significant amounts of sodium and magnesium.
Vegetables: Tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, and other vegetables are rich in potassium. Some (like tomatoes) also contain significant amounts of sodium.
Beans: Kidney beans, black beans, and other beans are a good source of potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium.
Nuts and seeds: Almonds, pistachios, sunflower seeds, and other nuts and seeds are high in electrolytes, including potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
Whole grains: Whole wheat bread, oats, brown rice, and other whole grains contain electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
Meat: Chicken, beef, and other meat are excellent sources of electrolytes, including potassium, magnesium, and sodium.
With so many delicious options to choose from, there’s no excuse not to get your fill of electrolyte-rich foods! So, next time you’re feeling tired or crampy after a workout (or any time of day), reach for one of these foods to help you rehydrate and replenish your electrolytes.
Our particular favourite recommendations around exercise are watermelon, banana, milk and milk substitutes!
It is critically important to stay hydrated during the warmer months, and with this simple guide you now know the fundamentals of hydration. From what hydration means, the importance of fluids and electrolytes, how you can keep hydrated; we’ve got you covered.
Not only that, but we’ve also provided a range of delicious electrolyte rich foods for you to enjoy.
So, why not give them a try?
Balance is Northern Ireland's leading nutritionist and dietician coaching team. We work with everyone from Olympians to office workers to help them achieve their nutrition and diet related goals.
Get in touch with us today to discuss how we can help you;
- Beat binge eating
- Lose weight and keep it off
- Take your sports performance to the next level and reach your full potential