By Vishal Patel, Chief Nutritionist
Recently we talked about ways you can combat the stresses put on your body when it is exposed to heat and humidity. But have you ever wondered why we need to spend extra attention to hydration during the summer?
It starts (and ultimately ends) with thermoregulation, which when functioning efficiently helps keep the body cool. Maintaining a proper core temperature goes hand in hand with thermoregulation, and can be achieved by proper hydration. But, before dig any further, let’s remind ourselves how our body naturally keeps us cool. There are four main processes or methods our bodies use to run smoothly:
1. Evaporation: the release of heat through sweat, by converting water to a gas.
2. Radiation: the transfer of heat from object to object through infrared waves (sunlight).
3. Convection: the release of heat through the movement of air or water, such as specialized fabrics with cooling technology.
4. Conduction: the release of heat through physical contact.
When your body is cool, you put less stress on your stomach which can alleviate GI distress, decrease the onset of muscle cramps, and increase your exercise performance.
The processes that is key in the summer months is evaporation. I know, you’re probably thinking how can I sweat more to keep me cool via evaporation. Well, it’s not all about sweating more, it’s about having a healthy method of cooling your body down. That can be achieved via hydration. When exercising in the summer months, you’re putting more stress on your body, your core temperature will be slightly higher than when training and racing in cooler months. Therefore, if you focus on drinking early and often during the run or ride, you’ll mitigate the stress you’re putting on your body, and will allow your body to properly cool via hydration.
One important note: water alone will NOT cut it. Water will provide fluids, but what we’ve learned is that water sometimes doesn't have everything your body needs when it's under stress. Your hydration needs both carbohydrates and electrolytes during high stress environment and/or longer exercises (90+ min) to help hydrate efficiently. (We designed nuun performance specifically to achieve just that.)
And as you know, staying hydrated during the workout alone won’t be enough. Going into a workout well hydrated goes a long way. It delays the onset of dehydration (which naturally occurs during exercise), and helps you perform better. Topping off your electrolyte stores the night before (or at least 1-2 hours before) a run or ride will help ensure you have enough electrolytes to move fluids through your body. Looking to up the electrolyte content without adding excess calories? Try 1.5-2 tablets of nuun electrolytes!
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