There's nothing like a steamy July day in Chattanooga to make you thirsty, and hydration is just as important whether you're training for a 5K or spending the day relaxing at the lake. Niki Chambers, owner and personal trainer at Chattanooga Fitness and Nutrition, shares some tips on how to stay safe and thirst-free in the summer heat.
Chambers says that high-water foods are not a substitute for drinking water but should still be an important part of your summer diet.
They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and in hydration terms that means a steady daily fluid intake. "The first thing I= tell people is to drink ahead, before you even start your day," says Chambers. "Drink until your urine is clear. As soon as it starts getting darker yellow, you're already dehydrated."
"It's really good to get it from straight water instead of other drinks or food," explains Chambers. Many other drinks, like coffee, alcohol, tea and soda, contain water but are diuretics and increase the flow of water from the body-not something you want when your goal is water retention. So if you're going to have a few drinks, make sure you intersperse them with glasses of water.
Drink a lot.
Water intake helps regulate body temperature, which is critical for preventing overheating. "People should drink 80 to 120 ounces on a regular day, but I ask my clients to do 120-plus if they're going to be active or outside in the heat," says Chambers. Under these circumstances, half a cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes is a good rule of thumb. A multi-use water bottle with measurements on the side is a good way to track water consumption.
Know the signs.
Dehydration can run the gamut from mild (thirst and a dry, sticky mouth) to severe (coma and even death), depending on how long you go without water intake. Other symptoms include dark yellow urine, lethargy, low urine output, confusion and inability to produce tears; babies have a soft spot on the top of the head that can sink in when they are dehydrated.
Know the solutions.
If you think you are getting dehydrated, get out of direct sunlight and don't guzzle water-this can lead to nausea. Instead, take in water or a diluted electrolytes-containing drink about 4 ounces at a time, says Chambers. If a person is exhibiting serious symptoms like confusion or lightheadedness, get medical help.