Well, it seems our Spring weather has taken a turn and the temps have started soaring quite quickly. With temperatures reaching the mid to high 80’s comes the need for us to pay closer attention to our hydration and fueling needs.
While most of us are aware of the importance of drinking water to stay hydrated, many are not aware of the importance of fueling the body and also electrolyte replenishment.
Importance of Eating (aka: fueling) before a workout or run:
Whether you eat or don’t eat before exercise the body burns the same amount of fat. However, you can actually cause muscle loss if you regularly work out on an empty stomach. When you’re hungry, your body goes into survival mode and draws protein from muscle. When this happens, you lose muscle mass, which can eventually slow your metabolism and make it harder for you to lose weight. Plus, if you exercise on an empty stomach, you’re not giving yourself the fuel you need to power through an intense training session. It doesn’t have to be a big amount of food, a small snack, such as 1/2 cup of oatmeal with fruit and nuts 45 min. – 1 hour before training is plenty.
Water for Hydration:
Drinking water keeps your body from dehydration (loss of water). Drinking six to eight 8 oz. cups of water a day is the recommended amount but you can also keep hydrated by eating foods like cucumbers, celery, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, kiwi, peaches, kale, spinach and other water-based fruits and veggies. Not getting enough water can cause dizziness, fainting, headaches, diarrhea, decreased blood pressure and stress on other organs. With that said though, many do not realize that drinking too much water can actually do harm as well.
Hyponatremia (low blood sodium)
Yes, drinking water is great and necessary for a healthy body but with an intense workout/run (especially with the temps outside rising) you are in danger of “over hydration” as well. When the body gets too much water, the sodium levels in the blood drop lower than normal and cause an electrolyte imbalance. When this happens you may begin to feel a headache accompanied by nausea, vomiting and confusion. If electrolytes are not replaced you may find you have a racing heart rate and increased blood pressure as well.
There are many products you can use to help balance out your electrolytes: Commercial sports drinks (Gatorade/PowerAde), salt tablets such as Endurolytes/S Caps, E-Gels, etc. You can also add a little table salt to your water or eat a salty snack such as pretzels during a long endurance workout.
This is not meant to be a scare tactic or suggest that you not workout or run during the hot days of late spring and summer but more just an awareness to be in tune with your body. So lets get fueled, hydrated, get those electrolytes and get out there and enjoy a safe and healthy workout.
Paula Jamieson – Certified Fitness Trainer/Nutritionist