With higher temperatures and sweatier workouts comes an extra need to be conscious of your hydration level. In addition to allowing us to sweat and keep cool when we’re battling the summer heat or sprinting on a spin bike, being adequately hydrated has multiple benefits for your body.
Your muscles, including your heart, depend on hydration to fire properly; without water, they lose their capacity to contract and they decrease in power and endurance. You’ve probably experienced the foggy-headed feeling that comes with being thirsty; that’s because your brain requires ample hydration to function well, too.
The digestive system requires water to break down and move food through your system; dehydration can slow things down and cause waste to back up. Once food is broken down and nutrients are extracted, your blood will carry those nutrients to your cells, a process that also requires ample fluid.
When you drink more, you also visit the bathroom more, which is good. Regular urination flushes toxins and bacteria from the body and can decrease your chances of developing a urinary tract infection.
So you see? There are several reasons to take in water. The daily recommendation for water is half of your body weight in ounces (that’s a lot of water), plus more if you’re sweating. An easy way to up your hydration—in addition to drinking consistently throughout the day—is to eat hydrating foods!
Here are some of the most hydrating options out there. It’s no coincidence that most of these are in season in the northern hemisphere during summertime. Their high electrolyte, nutrient and water content will keep you functioning well for all of your summer adventures.
Celery is 96% water—96%!!!! It’s like eating a crunchy glass of water. On top of all of that great fluid content, celery also contains folate, potassium, vitamins B6, C and K and a plethora of antioxidants. Celery will offer more hydration if consumed raw, so chop it up to use in a salad or slaw or slather it with your favorite nut butter and goji berries for a grown-up “Ants on a Log” snack.
Watermelon flesh is about 91% water. The remaining 9% is a host of vitamins like A and C, lycopene and fiber. Great on its own, in a salad or with yogurt, watermelon offers quick hydration and electrolytes that can also help prevent muscle soreness and speed recovery. Watermelon has also become a splashy new addition in the realm of bottled juices, so if you’re not into hauling squishy melon around in your bag for hydration emergencies, consider a bottle of the good stuff.
Clocking in at 90% water, this bright orange melon makes an excellent summertime fruit option. It has one of the highest concentrations of vitamin A, giving it that beautiful color, as well as vitamins C, K and B like thiamine, niacin and folate. If you’re looking for something natural to substitute in for Gatorade, cantaloupe juice makes a super option; because it’s high in potassium and magnesium, two minerals essential for muscle contraction and hydration retention, it acts as a natural electrolyte solution, perfect for keeping up endurance and recovery. Cantaloupe is great paired with yogurt and granola and makes a unique addition to smoothies.
These spicy little orbs of vegetable goodness are a whopping 95% water and a nutritional powerhouse. They contain electrolytes like magnesium, potassium and manganese; plus, they contain copper, calcium and folate. Consume these raw in a zippy spring salad or as a cracker alternative, sliced up and served with hummus.
Like radish, zucchini is 95% water. For such a seemingly simple veggie, check out this list of its nutrients: vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, copper, phosphorus, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, niacin and protein. It’s a great option for balancing the body’s electrolyte stores, which also help maintain healthy hydration levels. When spiralized, it makes a superb, extra-hydrating alternative to noodles.
While iceberg lettuce is the most hydrating of all the lettuces (at 96% water), romaine still comes in at a whopping 95%, plus it contains more vitamins and minerals than iceberg. It contains magnesium, potassium, calcium and a good dose of vitamin K. Like most lettuces, it’s most nutritious when consumed raw. Try it in a vegan Caesar salad with tahini-garlic-lemon dressing and toasted chickpeas or as a potent addition to green juice.
For being so dense and fibrous, pineapple contains a surprising amount of water: 87% of a pineapple is, in fact, water! It’s a cooling fruit and help promote good digestion thanks to its powerful enzymes, plus, vitamin C, manganese, B-vitamins and folate. Its high sugar content can be a great source of carbohydrate for a workout (so you’re fulfilling your fuel and hydration needs in one go). You can juice them, blend them, throw them in stir-fries or use them to top yogurt, cereal or pizza.
Carrots clock in with the same water content as pineapple and contain more than your daily recommended intake of vitamin A. They also contain B-vitamins, vitamins C, E, K, folate, copper, manganese and potassium. Consume them raw to get the most out of their hydration potential. They’re exceptionally versatile; shave them for use in a slaw, blend or juice them, top slices with sandwich fillings instead of using bread, or serve them solo with your favorite dip.
You won’t be surprised to hear that grapefruits contain a ton of water. They’re 91% water and help the body stay balanced thanks to their notable potassium content. Grapefruit also provides vitamins A, B1 and C, fiber and biotin. Plus, it has lycopene, which can help with inflammation. Grapefruit is an excellent, bright ingredient to add to salads, and also works well as a base for juices, an addition to grain dishes or on its own sprinkled with a little coconut sugar.
If you’re looking for a liquid hydration option that isn’t water, avoid processed, artificially colored, high-sugar sports drinks and instead check out nature’s Gatorade, coconut water. Coconut water is especially good for rehydrating the body thanks to its perfect balance of sodium and potassium. It can help the body restore fluids and electrolytes on its own or mixed into another beverage. If you’re experiencing muscle soreness due to dehydration, coconut water can be an excellent antidote. It’s also a great endurance booster during long workouts as it offers carbohydrates and minerals in good proportion.