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Stay hydrated this summer
"This iced coffee contains water, right?” "Just one more glass of rosé, and then I’ll switch to water.”
We’ve all been there. It’s really easy to get dehydrated—not to mention sunburned—come summertime. These are issues to be wary of year-round, but they’re particularly tricky in warmer weather.
"Staying hydrated in the heat can be more challenging than in cooler temperatures because we lose a significant amount of fluid through our skin in the form of sweat,” Jonah Soolman, RD, a nutritionist and certified trainer at Soolman Nutrition and Wellness in Wellesley, Mass. tells Health. Since we need to replace the fluid lost in that sweat, Soolman explains that "our hydration needs tend to be higher than when the temperature is more mild or cold."
A 2004 report from the Food and Nutrition Board suggested that men aim for about 3.7 liters of water a day and women aim for about 2.7 liters a day. But that may change in different environments: Hot or humid weather can necessitate additional fluid intake, as can high altitudes.
Why does hydration matter so much? “[It’s] important for several reasons, including body temperature stability, bowel regularity, reduced kidney stone risk, and filtering waste products, just to name a few,” Soolman says.
Well, then. Here are tips for hydrating yourself while keeping the process exciting, tasty, and good-looking. (Allow us to explain.)
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Invest in a new water bottle
In the same way that a new workout outfit can help motivate you to go to the gym more often, refillable water bottles are gorgeous these days, with all the bells and whistles you could ask for in terms of color, design, and features. Get one, and then bring it everywhere. Our fitness editor's number-one pick: the Nathan Flexshot ($25; amazon.com), which can be easily folded up when it's empty, making it great for travel.
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Track your water intake
Some of those very same water bottles include features that pester you when you’re not drinking enough, whether via a Bluetooth-connected app like in the H20Pal Smart Water Bottle ($99; amazon.com) or a little device that lights up when you haven’t moved your bottle recently. (Imagine how embarrassing it would be at the office if your water bottle started blinking in the middle of a meeting! That’s enough to keep a gal hydrated.)
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Drink better-tasting water
Though I live in New York City, which has excellent tap water, I prefer the flavor of water that’s gone through my Brita filter. (I’m a diva; I admit it.) I also am partial to throwing lemons, strawberries, cucumber slices, mint, and whatever else looks good in the glass when I need to mix it up.
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Get some water through food
Fortunately, lots of tasty summer foods—particularly those that seem juicy—are hydrating. Consider watermelon, stone fruits, and cucumbers, all of which boast a high water content, when you head to the beach. Cherry and grape tomatoes are easy to pack, and they pack in the hydration, too: in a previous interview with Health, Keri Gans, RD, told us she likes to pop them in her mouth with low-sodium cheese or nuts.
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Keep an eye on what goes out as much as what’s going in
Keeping an eye on the color of your urine can help you monitor your hydration levels. "I often suggest that people base their fluid input on their fluid output," Soolman says. "If someone is urinating every hour or two and the urine is a light lemonade color, they are probably taking in sufficient fluid. If the color is darker and/ or they are urinating less frequently, they could probably use more fluid coming in."
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Yes, seltzer is hydrating. You probably don’t want to drink a ton of it for the sake of your teeth, but a glass a day is no problem and counts towards your overall hydration. I like to add a splash of bitters, such as peach bitters, or some Luxardo cherry juice to mine to make it more of a mocktail. Put it in a pretty glass, and you won’t miss the booze…ish.
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Coconut water forever
Packed with electrolytes, coconut water can be incredibly refreshing on hot days. One important caveat: As Renee Clerkin, RD, told Health in a prior article, you should stick to plain coconut water, which doesn't contain added sugar, and don’t substitute it wholesale for water. (Unlike water, it contains calories!)
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Watch out for coffee and booze
Coffee and alcohol are diuretics. Iced coffee is not the same as water. Rosé all day is not going to hydrate you. Resist the impulse to only drink those during that one day in the hot sun on that island everyone’s been hitting, and make sure to get some water in there.
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Reach for it first
You walk into the BBQ/picnic/party and everyone’s there. What is that punch? It looks so fabulous. But did you walk, bike, or chase your children all the way there? Consider having your first drink of something be a glass of water. If you’re hot, you’re likely to chug whatever is handed to you. Might as well get those eight to 16 ounces out of the way first, feel its hydrating effects, and then indulge in an alcoholic drink.