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I'm kind of a lunatic when talking to my clients about hydration, especially here in San Diego. In our warm, dry climate, it's more important than ever to be diligent about hydration as the temperatures rise. But hydration goes beyond just drinking a lot of water. We all know to bring water or sports drink while on the run. And that's all we need to do to run and feel our best, right? Not exactly. To feel your best while on the run, it's all about the time in between your workouts.
First of all, hydration is important because our bodies are about 50-65% water. Proper hydration is responsible for regulating our body temperature and blood pressure, keeping our blood volume correct, ridding our bodies of waste products, and much more. Oftentimes, the way a person feels largely depends on their hydration level, running or not. When we feel fatigued, have headaches, or general nausea, it's often due to being dehydrated.
The general consensus for meeting your hydration needs to is drink 8-10oz of water every hour you're awake. The Institute of Medicine has set general water intake recommendations for women at approximately 2.7 liters (91 ounces) of total water from all beverages and foods every day, and men an average of approximately 3.7 liters (125 ounces daily) of total water. Keep in mind, these are general recommendations for the general public. Athletes will have higher requirements. Notice, though, the IOM's recommendations count water intake from both fluid and food. Many people don't realize that a great way to boost your hydration is to eat foods high in water content, which are mainly fruits and vegetables. Not only will you get a boost to your hydration, you'll also get tons of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, electrolytes and fiber. We lose electrolytes when we sweat, so eating foods high in potassium and magnesium, for example, will help runners more so than just drinking water. And foods high in antioxidants will help us recover better, so we're ready to tackle our next workout.
The best foods to boost your hydration are your juicy foods like melons, cucumber, berries, grapes, pears, peaches, citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, etc.), tomatoes and kiwi. But foods that may not seem so juicy can do the trick too, like broccoli, bell peppers, lettuces, zucchini and cabbage. And it just so happens that all of these foods will provide substantial amounts of B vitamins, vitamins A, C and E, potassium, magnesium, powerful antioxidants and fiber.
The best way to add these foods to your diet is to eat fresh, locally-grown varieties. Farmer's markets are the perfect source for all sorts of produce that you may not be able to find at your grocery store. You can find a list of all the farmer's markets in San Diego County through the San Diego Farm Bureau.
Some things to keep in mind regarding hydration:
- Drink about 8-10oz of water every hour you're awake. All day and every day.
- By lunchtime your urine should be a pale yellow color. We wake up in a dehydrated state, so it's important to start drinking your water as soon as you get up.
- Don't use thirst as a guide. We're already dehydrated by the time we feel thirsty. Instead, make a hydration plan for yourself (when you should drink and how much each time) and aim to reach that every day.
- You can boost hydration by eating foods that have a high water content. See above for examples of foods to boost your hydration.