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Health & Wellness

Water Is Best. But Here Are 5 Other Good Ways To Rehydrate In Summer (And 3 Bad Ones)

Woman drinking water from a clear bottle.
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For rehydrating after activity in the summer heat, Dr. Salazar says water is best - any variety will do.

The summer heat can cause your body to lose a lot of water. It’s important to rehydrate, but also to be careful how you do it.

Drinking water is best, but Dr. Gilberto Salazar, an emergency physician with Parkland Health & Hospital System and an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center, told KERA’s Sam Baker there are some acceptable alternatives to water, and some you should avoid.

How Much Water Should You Drink To Stay Hydrated?

The usual approach has been eight glasses a day, but they're more modern ways of doing it. One I really like is to divide your weight in pounds by two. That's going to be your weight in kilograms. Drink the same number of fluid ounces as your kilogram weights per day. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, that's about 75 kilograms. You should drink about 75 fluid ounces of water per day.

I always caution if you have a healthy system with no medical problems, that formula will work. Some folks should not drink that amount of water. So, you really should consult with your doctor before drinking that amount.

Good Alternatives To Plain Water:

Coconut Water

It’s absolutely delicious. It carries a lot of extra nutrients, and salts such as potassium. It does carry some added sugars sometimes, but it is a healthy way of doing things.

Fat-free Or Skim Milk

I know our stomachs can be a little bit sensitive after exercise, especially for those doing quite a bit of running. Our pH and our body change a little bit. And you may be a little more sensitive to things like milk.

You don't absolutely need all those extra nutrients, but it does carry the volume you need to replace water. So that is a decent option as well.

Green Tea

Green tea (caffeinated) gives you just a little bit of a kick. It doesn't carry any added sugars or, or salts, and you can sweeten it with anything that you like. So to me, it's just about the volume. Green tea, especially iced green tea with a little bit of sugar substitute, goes a long way.

Green or Fruit Smoothies

They're primarily based on ice, which is water. So it does carry some volume, but that added sugar can affect some sensitive stomachs. If you're going to replace some volume with smoothies, definitely start with some straight-up water, and then use a smoothie as a way to supplement. But make your own, and don't add additional sugars. It just makes your body want to urinate it all out.

What's Wrong With Sports Drinks? Isn't This What Athletes Use?

An athlete’s metabolism is a lot different than the average person's. The amount of calories they burn for their activities is just a lot higher. So they can definitely handle a little more sugar.

But for the average person, those sports drinks do carry quite a bit of sugar content. There are some low-calorie sports drinks, which I actually like, but the average sports drink does carry some additional sugar that the average person doesn't need.

The Same For Soft Drinks?

Yeah. There's nothing wrong with the carbonation, but the amount of added sugars per serving is tremendously high.

Alcohol

The worst for rehydration purposes.

Alcohol is a diuretic. Any volume you put in, you're immediately going to urinate it all out. Some folks think there's nothing better than a cool beer during the summer, but you're really not doing your body a favor. You could actually put yourself behind in volume and get dehydrated thinking that you're doing the right thing.

One More Thing…


Energy drinks give you a nice boost of energy and mental focus. But they're not a good rehydration method. They also carry quite a bit of sugar. That extra caffeine is also a diuretic.

I see a lot of folks who do outside work, consuming energy drinks as a way of keeping their body hydrated. But that is definitely not a good strategy for rehydration. Not only do they get dehydrated, the high amount of caffeine can also actually cause abnormal heart rhythms.

RESOURCES

Get the Facts: Drinking Water and Intake

Rethink Your Drink

The Best and Worst Drinks to Keep You Hydrated

What Counts as Water? Stay Hydrated and Healthy

Interview highlights were lightly edited for clarity.

Got a tip? Email Sam Baker at sbaker@kera.org. You can follow Sam on Twitter @srbkera.

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