Keeping your body well-fueled and hydrated is a must during outdoor summer sports and exercise, a nutrition expert says.
"For summer workouts, it's important to make sure that adequate carbohydrates, fluids and electrolytes are consumed," said sports dietitian Kristen Chang, assistant director of the master's program in nutrition and dietetics at Virginia Tech University.
"You need to make sure that proper levels of blood sugar are maintained throughout the workout," Chang said in a university news release, noting that you shouldn't go into an exercise session hungry.
That means you need to think about what you eat and drink before a workout to account for increased water loss from sweat.
This can include boosting your intake of fluids and electrolytes, or foods with a higher water content, including melons such as watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew; and soups, smoothies, apples, berries, pineapple, bell peppers, tomatoes and celery.
Pay careful attention to hydration before and after workouts, Chang recommended.
"You need to make sure that when you're sweating a lot, you're replacing the lost nutrients," she said.
Have a water bottle and sip on it throughout the day. If you perspire heavily or are doing a longer workout outside, you need to replenish electrolytes or get some sodium to replace what is lost through sweat, Chang suggested.
Also, it's "really important to include a quality source of electrolyte, which could be in the form of a sports drink or salty foods to complement water," Chang said.
Keep track of your hydration status, she noted.
"An easy way to do that is to monitor the color of your urine. If it's dark and concentrated and you're not going to the bathroom much, you need to drink more fluids," Chang said. "If your urine is consistently clear and you're making frequent pit stops, you may be overhydrating."
To replenish energy after a workout, eat a snack or meal that includes easily digestible carbohydrates and protein.
"Especially in the summer heat, a lot of people finish their workouts and just aren't hungry. They lack an appetite and don't want to eat," Chang said. "Regardless, it's important to give your body nutrients to recover. In these cases, liquid nutrients are easier, like milk, juice or smoothies."
And give your body a chance to adjust, Chang advised: Ease into outdoor workouts in hot weather to avoid heat-related illnesses.
"A lot of people don't realize the toll that the heat and humidity have on the body," she said. "If you're not feeling right, slow down or stop. Be proactive and carry a source of fluids at all times."
The Mayo Clinic has more on heat and exercise.
SOURCE: Virginia Tech University, news release, June 10, 2022