Hydration For the Run

May 18th, 2014 | By Lindsey Ebert No Comments

Fam-Nutrition-3.4

One of the biggest struggles throughout my running career has been my absolute inability to enjoy the taste of water.  Being from the south, I grew up on the addictive flavors of Coca-Cola and sweet tea.  As I grew up and became more physically active, the excuse that “sweet tea is brewed with water, so it must be somewhat good for me” began to seem less likely to be true.  However, as the hottest months of the year approach with a vengeance to the recently “Snowpocalyse” Peach State, it’s more important than ever to stay hydrated.

Amber Yudell, a sports nutritionist for the University of Georgia athletic department, has provided a few pointers on how to stay hydrated for when you lace up and hit the pavement this summer.

WHEN

According to Amber, it is important to hydrate before, during, and after physical activity. “The idea is to hydrate early and often.  Make it a daily routine,” said Amber, who uses the RDA (Recommended Dietary – or Daily – Allowance) as a baseline for athletes when considering how much they should drink per day.  For an average active woman, this is 91 ounces of water (11-12 eight-ounce glasses) per day.  For males, she recommends 125 ounces (15-16 eight-ounce glasses) per day.

Don’t forget to bring a water bottle along on your runs and walks!  Amber recommends aiming to drink a cup of water every 15 minutes.  If you are running at a high intensity for 45 minutes or longer, she recommends a sports drink.  If your walks are lower intensity or less than 45 minutes, you can stick with water.

WHAT

Water isn’t the only means by which you can hydrate.  While 80% of your daily hydration comes from the amount of water you drink, the other 20% can come from foods you consume.  This is true if you maintain a well-balanced diet complete with fruit and vegetables.  Try these water alternatives to help you hydrate for a warm afternoon run:

Yogurt – It doesn’t sound too appetizing before a hot run, but consider incorporating it into your daily breakfast routine or even as a post-run snack.  Dairy, including milk, is a large factor in hydration.

Fruit – In the summer months, we tend to crave watery fruits more, so pack a bag of strawberries, cucumber, watermelon, grapefruit, or any citrus fruit for work or school.

Sports drinks – Drinks specifically formulated for active people, such as PowerAde or Gatorade, are excellent alternatives to water, especially for high intensity days.  The carbohydrates in these drinks help keep you fueled for longer than water alone, and the added electrolytes are crucial for fluid absorption.

WHAT TO AVOID

Sodas don’t dehydrate your body as much as once believed, but … they aren’t recommended before you hit the pavement.  “You still get some beneficial hydration from soda, but it is very calorie dense.  It also has caffeine that affects different people in different ways,” says Amber.  If, like me, you crave drinks other than water, she recommends juices or beverages with lower sugar content.  “I’d be cautious of energy drinks and other very high sugar-concentrated beverages like slurpees.  The high sugar content along with exercise can cause gut upset,” she cautions. Lastly, large consumptions of alcohol can dehydrate you for up to days after drinking.

While there are many alternatives to water, she recommends juices or beverages with lower sugar content.  “I’d be cautious of energy drinks and other very high sugar-concentrated beverages like slurpees.  The high sugar content along with exercise can cause gut upset,” she cautions. Lastly, large consumptions of alcohol can dehydrate you for up to days after drinking.

While there are many alternatives to water that help add to your daily hydration, it isn’t recommended to use these snacks as a complete replacement for water.  Amber recommends carrying a water bottle every day and having it with meals to help achieve your daily recommended levels.  So grab a slice of watermelon and don’t let the eminent blazing sunny days deter you.  Happy hydrating!

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