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Exactly What To Eat And Drink After A Hot Summer Workout

Rehydrating and refueling post-workout is always important, but during the hottest months of the year—when your workouts get extra sweaty—it’s especially critical. Not only do the right nutrients and plenty of fluids help your body recover after a hot summer workout, but they also set you up to perform well next time you get after it.

Use this guide to tweak your post-workout routine so you can stay safe and fit all summer long. 

Your Body During Hot Summer Workouts

“When we exercise and move our bodies, we create excess heat,” says dietitian Sarah Schlichter, M.P.H., R.D.N., owner of Bucket List Tummy

That’s where sweat comes in. “The way we lower our core body temperature during exercise is through the evaporation of sweat from our skin,” explains Cindy Dallow, Ph.D., R.D., sports dietitian and triathlon coach at 2 Doc Tri Coaching. “It’s the actual evaporation process that causes the cooling.”

Just how much you sweat, of course, depends on a number of factors. “Sweat rates are highly individual and are affected by genetics, age, ambient temperature, fitness, and acclimatization,” Dallow says. “The rate at which dehydration occurs varies from person to person.”

Read More: Why Do Some People Sweat More Than Others?

Because humid air makes it difficult for sweat to evaporate, your body has a harder time cooling down in sticky weather. “In a hot, dry environment, evaporation can account for 98 percent of the cooling of the body,” Dallow says. “In a humid environment, it accounts for just 80 percent.”

As a result, your body produces even more sweat in attempts to regulate your body temperature in these environments. Since you lose fluids and electrolytes in your sweat, working out hard in the heat can quickly push you towards dehydration.

Signs of Dehydration

Of course, this is bad news for your performance, recovery, and overall health. “When we become dehydrated, our bodies are essentially experiencing a form of additional stress,” says Schlichter. The potential impacts are many, including:

  • slow delivery of nutrients and oxygen to our cells
  • altered body temperature
  • increased muscle cramps
  • decreased cognitive function, and more
  • increased heart rate
  • decreased blood pressure
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • lightheadedness
  • decreased athletic performance
  • nausea and vomiting (in serious cases)

In fact, research published in Sports Medicine suggests that losing any more than two percent of your body mass in water significantly impairs endurance exercise performance. Plus, the body can take up to 24 hours to regain fluid balance, Schlichter says. That means dehydration might just impact your next workout, too.

What your body needs after A hot Summer workout

No matter what temperature you work out in, there are certain nutrients your body needs after every tough training session. However, you’ll want to pay special attention to how you refuel after a hot summer workout.

Carbs: The body breaks carbs down into sugar (glucose) for immediate energy or stores it in the muscles or liver for later as glycogen. Tough training saps up glucose and glycogen, making it important to restock after a workout. To do that, you’ve got to eat carbs or sugar, Dallow says.

Protein: In addition to carbs, your body also needs protein to help repair and build muscle that broken down during your workout. “A blend of protein and carbohydrates helps reduce muscle protein breakdown and start the muscle-building process,” says Schlichter.

Electrolytes: These minerals include sodium, potassium, calcium, bicarbonate, chloride, and magnesium, and play a crucial role in making sure your body functions properly. Since you lose electrolytes in your sweat, you have to make an effort to replace them—especially sodium—after a hot summer workout, Dallow says. “Sodium helps to restore water balance in the body by helping us retain water which was lost in great amounts via sweating,” she explains.

Fluids: Of course, along with your electrolytes, you’ve got to consume plenty of fluids. “The general recommendation is to drink 16 to 24 ounces of water for each pound lost during exercise,” Schlichter says. (Weigh yourself immediately before and after a sweaty workout to gauge.)

Exactly wHat To Eat And Drink After A Hot Summer workout

So, how does all of that translate into your post-workout plan? Here’s how to refuel and rehydrate after a hot summer workout.

1. Water

Good ol’ H2O is (unsurprisingly) key here. “It helps to restore water balance and lower core temperature,” Schlichter says.

In addition to downing water after your workout, drink plenty in the two or three hours prior. (If you exercise first thing in the morning, hydrate the night before.)

2. Fruit 

“Fruits, like watermelon, have high-water content and can be great vehicles for hydration,” Schlichter says, “Many people crave a cold fruit after hot exercise because it’s refreshing and offers necessary sugar, too.”

Another great option: Tart cherries, which provide antioxidants and may reduce muscle soreness, she says.

To improve post-workout recovery, pair your fruit with some protein.

3. Yogurt

“While yogurt offers some fluid for hydration, it also provides carbohydrates, protein, and electrolytes, says Schlichter. “It’s the whole package!”

For additional carbohydrates and nutrients, add some fresh fruit. To up the sodium content, add salted nuts or seeds.

4. Pretzels

Since sodium is the electrolyte we lose the most of during exercise, it’s essential to replace it after a sweaty session. One easy way to do it: Snack on salty pretzels alongside your water.

5. Sports or Electrolyte Drinks

Most sports drinks, electrolyte mixes, or homemade electrolyte drinks combine water, carbohydrates, and electrolytes to help replenish your body.

Read More: Are You Getting Enough Electrolytes?

If you want to reduce the added sugars in your pre-made sports drink, dilute it with water. Or, make your own by combining 100 percent juice, water, and salt, says Schlichter.

6. Chocolate Milk

With the ideal blend of protein and carbohydrates, chocolate milk—which contains more carbs than the plain stuff—is a great post-workout liquid option, Schlichter says. It also offers hydration and electrolytes, like sodium and potassium.

If you’re not a dairy drinker, opt for a plant-based milk source that contains some protein, like soy or pea protein milk, she suggests.

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