Stay Hydrated This Summer and Always

When it comes to a post workout snack or meal, a smoothie is hard to beat. The combination of fruit or veggies, water, milk or juice, and yogurt or protein powder is an excellent way to quench your post workout thirst, replace lost fluids and provide the carbs and protein necessary for good muscle recovery. Consuming a smoothie, that contains some protein, within 20-30 minutes of completing a workout will allow you to recover faster. The chocolate, cherry smoothie is my recommendation! Combine Greek yogurt, chocolate milk, tart cherry juice and crushed ice for a post workout treat that is also restorative. The cherry juice provides antioxidants. The yogurt and chocolate milk provide protein and electrolytes. Fluid lost during a sweaty workout is replaced by the milk, crushed ice and juice as well. Try to avoid excess fluid loss during a workout. Sip water often during your session and replace more as soon as possible.
      Exercising in a warm environment, be it in a hot yoga studio, outdoor summer activities or beach games in a hot climate, requires more attention to re-hydration. Certainly be aware of taking in adequate amounts of water but also choose foods that are hydrating as well. Watermelon, very refreshing on a hot day, for example is 92% water. Not only is it a good fluid booster it is also high in electrolytes and antioxidants. It contains vitamin A which is essential to healthy vision, skin and immune function. Another fluid that contains a high level of electrolytes is coconut water. Electrolytes help balance muscle and nerve function. Coconut water is an excellent post workout beverage for this reason. Coconut water and fresh (not dried) coconut “meat” also help restore the oxidative effect of exercise. Making it a good choice post exercise. These can also be added to a smoothie.
     Salads are a good, rehydrating during hot weather, food choice. Iceberg lettuce contains plenty of water but romaine contains more vitamins and antioxidants. A salad containing both of these lettuces as well as tomatoes, peppers, strawberries and cucumbers will prove to be both thirst quenching and nutritional. Tomatoes contain vitamin A, C, lycopene and potassium. Bell peppers contain antioxidants and vitamins as well. Strawberries are 91% water, therefore they contain the most water of all berries. They are also high in vitamin C, manganese, folate ( cell growth and repair) and potassium (blood pressure regulation). Cucumbers are 95% water. They also contain anti-cancer properties and are beneficial to skin hydration. All these salad foods are low calorie.  Add salad dressing sparingly. Squeeze a lemon and add salt and pepper or use a light amount of an oil vinegar mix. When it comes to greens however, kale is king. Kale packs a nutritional punch when it comes to vitamins and minerals, is very high fiber and contains anti-cancer properties. Kale can be alone in  salad, mixed with other greens or cooked into dishes such as pasta sauce and stir frys. Another high fiber, high water content, potassium rich food is celery.
      Not only is staying hydrated important for our internal functions, it is best for our skin as well. Staying hydrated means fewer noticeable wrinkles. Drinking plenty of water as well as choosing foods that have a high water content will benefit your skin. Avocados, walnuts, sunflower seeds, tomatoes, red and yellow bell peppers all contain properties that benefit your skin. Add these to your salad as well. The killjoy is, alcohol and caffeinated beverages are dehydrating and it’s best to limit consumption. BUT dark chocolate has antioxidant properties! Enjoy your workouts this summer, stay hydrated and consume some dark chocolate!