How To Beat The Heat (With Food)

Greenletes / Sports Nutrition / How To Beat The Heat (With Food)

Last updated on February 28th, 2021 at 10:23 am

The summer weather is great for many things–backyard barbecues, beach volleyball, swimming and bike rides along the boardwalk. Sounds perfect, right? As much as I love this picture perfect idea of summer, the reality of a New York summer is breathing in hot humid air, sweating through my clothes, exercising before the sun comes up or goes down and feeling tired and sluggish during my workouts.  Not as perfect as I imagined.

How to stay hydrated and energized while exercising in the heat

What if I told you that food can actually combat the heat and make you feel energized all summer long? If you’re surprised, don’t be, because that tired and sluggish feeling you get in the heat is a sign of dehydration.  Unfortunately, dehydration occurs quite frequently just from sweating. High summer temperatures = more sweating = more dehydration. But luckily, there are simple solutions to this equation, and I’m not talking about just drinking gallons of water—it’s about the foods you eat too!

[bctt tweet=”Exercising in the heat drains your energy and causes dehydration. Follow these simple tips to beat the heat with food & drink. ” username=”nutritionalanat”]

Here are 7 ways to beat the heat (and nix dehydration) with food.

  1. Embrace salty foods. Although too much salt in the diet can cause high blood pressure and high cholesterol, salt is actually necessary for active people. You lose salt in sweat, and too much sodium loss can cause dehydration. If you know you’ll be sweating later in the day, use the salt shaker on your food or eat some salty foods. Put pickles or olives on your sandwich or throw a handful of pretzels into your trail mix.
  2. Jazz up your water. While water may be boring by itself, it’s quite delightful when infused with fruit and herbs. Try adding fresh mint, berries, kiwis, melons or cucumber to your water bottle. Or make these delicious Watermelon Lime Ice Cubes ahead a time to keep your water cool and fruity on-the-go.
  3. Indulge in a caffeine fix. What’s the main ingredient in iced coffee and iced tea? It’s water. Research has also shown that caffeine can boost athletic performance.  Feel free to grab an afternoon caffeine fix before your workout, but stay away from the ones that are drowned in sugar.
  4. Drink sports drinks.  Yes, you read that correctly.  The same sports drinks that are are considered “bad” for you are actually necessary when you are excessively sweating.  Gatorade was created in Florida for athletes that were exercising in the heat.  The combination of water, electrolytes and sugar in the drink are meant to replace water and salt lost in sweat and carbohydrates that you use up during exercise.
  5. Shop the farmer’s market. Summer seasonal produce, like kiwi, watermelon, berries, zucchini and corn, are high in water. Eating foods with water also counts towards hydration!
  6. Add ice. If you decide to drink something other than water (like a summery cocktail), make sure you add a ton of ice.  Alcohol causes dehydration, and the rule is to drink one glass of water after each alcoholic drink.  But we don’t always remember to do that, so make sure half the glass is filled with ice for some hydration.
  7. Create an exercise hydration plan.** I’m adding two stars to this because it’s so so important.  If you decide to exercise or race in the heat, you need to have a plan for how much you will drink. I usually suggest drinking a glass of water at every other mile during a race or drinking 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes during outdoor exercise.

Follow these tips all summer long when you know you will be excessively hot and sweaty.  Always have something to hydrate you, and you will never feel sluggish!






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I’m Natalie Rizzo, an NYC-based Registered Dietitian.

My mission is to help everyday athletes fuel their fitness with plants.

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