As soon as you hit the beach, your body will immediately feel the need to hydrate. That’s because heat and exciting water sports that you dive into like surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing or stand-up paddling, all burn a lot of calories. And yet, it’s so easy to overlook the dead simple habit of drinking water. Often times, we remember to drink when it’s already too late – when we’re thirsty or feel lightheaded and tired.
More than half of the human body is… water. Our lean body mass contains between 70 to 75 percent water, while fat contains much less, between 10 to 40 percent. The bodies of active athletes contain more water than those with less muscle mass and more fat. As a result, their daily water intake is greater.
Water plays a key role in any surfer’s nutrition, and there is no such thing as too much water when spending your day at the beach. Read on for some simple tips to stay hydrated even in the hottest and most active of days:
Here’s why you should be drinking more water in the first place
- Water is a vital nutrient. It is a solvent for important biochemical reactions and maintains the health of every living cell in your body. It transports all substances in the body, from blood and nutrients to flushing toxins.
- Maintains proper blood circulation – drinking more water is associated with a reduced risk of coronary diseases. Blood is between 85 to 95 percent water. When dehydrated, your body becomes thick and sticky, thus prone to blood clots and poor circulation.
- Helps maintain body temperature – when exercising, your internal body temperature increases. Water helps cool down your body and keeps all internal organs functioning properly, which is why it is so important to stay hydrated when exercising.
- Lubricates your joints – water is the main lubricant in your joints and spine. Drinking enough water reduces the accumulation of acid waste in the joints, which causes pain and inflammation.
- Boosts brain power – the next time you have trouble concentrating or react slow to your friends’ jokes, grab a glass of water! The human brain is about 85 percent water. According to a study published in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience journal, drinking water when you feel thirsty helps you think and act faster.
- Appetite control – the next time you feel hungry, drink some water instead. You were probably just thirsty. Drinking a glass of water before a meal helps reduce your appetite and eat less. Water is not some magical overnight weight loss recipe, but it does reduce calories intake through controlled eating and keeps everything in your intestinal tract flowing. Furthermore, your body needs water in order to burn calories.
How much water do you really need?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 43 percent of American adults don’t drink enough water.
We’ve all heard of the eight glasses of water a day rule. In reality, it all depends from one person to the other. Men should drink at least 13 cups of water a day, which means 3 liters (100 ounces), and women should drink 9 cups (2.2 liters/75 ounces). Some can handle less, while for others it may not be enough. People who exercise regularly or spend more time in the sun need far more water than the recommended amount.
Water is often the most forgotten nutrient. Just think about it: you can last for up to three weeks without food, but only a few days without water! And the estimate is a lot shorter in difficult conditions, such as a hot environment and while performing physical activities. Without proper water intake, our internal organs may become seriously damaged.
Under extreme condition, an adult can lose between 1 to 1.5 liters (50 ounces) of sweat in an hour. This is lost water and, if not replaced quickly, body fluid levels as well as blood volume drop. This can have life-threatening consequences, and death can occur much quicker.
If you’re not sure whether you are drinking enough water, check your urine:
- If it’s colorless or light yellow, then you’re well hydrated.
- If it’s dark yellow or amber colored, it means you’re dehydrated.
Here are some other signs of dehydration:
- Dry mouth
- Fatigue and sleepiness
- Trouble concentrating
- Extreme thirst
- No tears when crying
Do you find water too boring? Luckily, there are a few tricks that can make hydration a lot easier. While it’s true that there is no substitute for plain, pure water, there are some drinks and snacks you can use to supplement your intake:
Surprising ways to stay hydrated (without plain water)
Stock up on fruits & veggies
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), around 20 percent of our daily water intake comes from food. Fruits and vegetables are high in water content, and you can easily keep your body hydrated by eating fruits and veggies that contain 85 percent water or more:
- Cucumbers and lettuce – 96% water
- Celery and radishes – 95% water
- Tomatoes and cauliflower – 94% water
- Bell peppers and spinach – 92% water
- Strawberries and watermelons – 92% water
- Cantaloupe – 90% water
- Peaches – 88% water
- Pineapple – 87 % water
Photo credit: Phu Thinh Co
Dubbed Mother Nature’s sports drink, coconut water has high electrolyte levels, low-calorie content, more potassium and fewer carbohydrates than popular sports drinks. How can you not go nuts for coconut water? Rehydrate after a mild workout with this tropical beverage. Being low in sodium, coconut water is not enough to hydrate you after an intensive workout. If you know you’ve sweat buckets, go for a sports drink instead.
If you are planning to exercise or be active outdoors, sports drinks can actually help. They contain carbohydrates, protein, electrolytes and sodium that help your body absorb water, increase energy levels and help you recover.
Fruit and vegetable juices are a great alternative to plain water, and each glass delivers valuable nutrients too. A glass of fresh fruit juice in the morning will refresh your whole body. Plus, it counts as one of your five daily servings of fruit. If you can’t decide on one particular fruit, go for a smoothie!
Our tip: Go for pomegranate juice, a great source of potassium, which restores electrolyte balance, and a tasty, refreshing beverage.
A great source of calcium and protein, milk is also excellent to rehydrate after a workout. According to research, milk is better than water and sports drinks for rehydration and recovery after exercising. Just make sure you go for low-fat milk as whole milk delays fluid replacement.
Our tip: chocolate milk is even better! Compared to plain milk, water or sports drinks, chocolate milk has higher levels of carbohydrates and protein, which help your muscles recover after intensive workouts. It also contains calcium, sugar and sodium, which help retain water and retain energy. Chocolate milk might just be the recovery drink you’ve been looking for! Make sure you make your own chocolate milk to avoid the added sugar, flavors and preservatives in store-bought ones.
No error here, I’m talking about actual coffee! I know, we all thought coffee was a diuretic that causes dehydration. But a study conducted by PLOS ONE Journal debunks the myth and shows there is no link between coffee consumption and dehydration. In fact, your daily cup of joe helps you stay hydrated just as water does, while at the same time improving muscle performance and endurance, boosting memory and concentration and reducing the risks of certain ailments like heart disease and diabetes.
- Energy drinks. Do not confuse sports drinks for energy drinks. The latter contain large amounts of caffeine, sugar and other stimulants (guarana, taurine) that your body does not need. Plus, highly caffeinated beverages with added sugar will only make you more thirsty.
- Extended periods in direct sunlight. It is not possible to surf in the shade unless it’s cloudy of course, but you can try your best to protect yourself when you are out of the water. Head under a tree or umbrella or hit a terrace. The combination of dehydration and overheating sends many people to the hospital
- Alcohol and the sun don’t go well together. Alcohol drains water out of your body, making you feel thirsty. It inhibits the production of the antidiuretic hormone (the hormone that helps the body absorb water) and causes symptoms like dry mouth, thirst and headaches. To counteract the negative effects of alcohol, have a large glass of water for every alcoholic drink you consume.
Simple tips for staying hydrated
- Keep a bottle of water with you throughout the day. Carry a reusable bottle and fill it up whenever you need.
- If plain water does not tickle your fancy, you can try adding a slice of lemon or grapefruit, or a few slices of strawberries or pineapple to make yourself some refreshing flavored water.
- Remember to drink water before, during and after a workout. When you hit the beach and plan to do some surfing, windsurfing or any other water sport, make sure to take breaks to come out of the water and rehydrate.
- If you have trouble remembering to drink water, make a schedule: drink when you wake up, before each meal and snack and before you go to bed. You can also plan to drink at the beginning of each hour.
Summer is here and we all can’t wait to hit the beach. Go to BookSurfCamps.com and choose an exciting surf vacation to cool you down. Now you have a few tricks up your sleeve to help you stay properly hydrated when you hit the waves.