How to Stay Hydrated Without Even Trying

Eat your Water

 

Did you know that veterinarians suggest pouring a little water on your dog’s dry food during the summer so that even if they’re not drinking enough water, they are still staying hydrated? 

So are there any tricks for us humans to up our fluid intake without feeling like we’re going to float away?

Drinking the recommended 2.2 liters (about 9 cups of fluids, the adequate fluid intake for women set by the Institute of Medicine) can feel like a chore.  Water helps transport oxygen and energy to muscles, regulates body temperature and flush waste products, and for active female cyclists, the Institute of Medicine recommends about 7 liters! 

Food contributes about 20% of our daily fluid intake - which is why you may have heard the “8 cups of fluids per day” recommendation rather than the actual Adequate Intake recommendation of 9 cups… doctors know that we eat some of our fluids in addition to drinking.  

Some foods are especially hydrating: many fruits and vegetables like grapes, watermelon, tomatoes and lettuce, are about 90% water by weight. Here are some more foods that can keep you hydrated before, during and after your ride: 

 

Pasta: There is a lot said about carb-loading.  But the truth is this: studies show that for long-distance and endurance cycling, eating a carb-filled meal about 12 hours before the ride does improve performance, since the body calls on the sugars for energy.  A benefit to a big bowl of pasta the night before a long ride is that the pasta soaks up some of the water it’s cooked in, upping your water intake and stocking the body with easy-access carbs. 

 

Grains: Oatmeal, quinoa, and brown rice absorb a lot of water in the cooking process and are great ways to sneak some extra water into meals before and after rides.

 

Fruits: Strawberries are easily portable and contain one of the highest concentrations of water in fruits, about 92% water by volume. Oranges ring in at 87% water and blueberries, apples and pears have about 85% water.  Unfortunately, the cyclist-favorite - bananas - are relatively low in water content at 74%, but are by far the easiest to carry.  Fruits have the simple sugars that are easily accessed for energy and the fresh, sweet taste can provide an instant pick-me-up on the saddle, and are also great for recovery.  Dark berries like raspberries contain a natural anti-inflammatory chemical, great for post-ride knee pain.

 

Vegetables: Bagged cucumber slices are an easy snack that carries the highest water content among veggies, at 96%.  Cuc slices in you water bottle add flavor and can be eaten along the way, too.  For pre or post-ride hydration, go for starchy veggies that provide satiation and hydration: broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, cauliflower and peppers are about 92% water and are also filling.  Dark leafy green veggies, like spinach, are high in iron which improves blood and oxygen flow to muscles, great for a pre-ride salad. 

 

For more info about fluid intake recommendations, visit: 

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256

For more about the water content of foods, visit: 

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/list-fruits-vegetable-high-water-content-8958.html