Fresh air and wide-open spaces beckon more than ever before, leading many fitness pros, athletes, and wellness warriors to push their limits in the great outdoors.  This pivot from fluorescent lights and air conditioning to sunshine and heat drives the need for greater attention to hydration and recovery before, during, and after the workout.  Here are top tips to make sure your summer hydration supports your health and fitness goals all season long.

Start in a good place.  With so many benefits tied to optimal hydration, it’s surprising that so many athletes show up to a workout already behind.  Experts know that optimal hydration supports a lower heart rate, core temperature, and rate of perceived exertion as well as higher stroke volume and cardiac output.  In other words, better workouts and improved performance!  Focus on sipping on water and other beverages in the hours leading up to a workout, allowing yourself to use the facilities before the work begins.  Your goal is to meet your thirst and maintain a urine concentration that’s light yellow in color.

Stay strong.  Light efforts require water to support but harder efforts or workouts in hot and humid environments (hello summer!) call for water AND electrolytes.  Add in sodium, chloride, potassium, and other critical electrolytes to help your body retain the fluids it needs to perform and excel.

Fluid needs are not universal; the amount needed to maintain hydration varies according to the amount of fluid on board at the start, an individuals’ sweat rate, size, and gender.  Drinking to thirst is encouraged and for more a more precise hydration plan, consider performing a sweat test.  Over decades of research, experts have determined that even a mild degree of dehydration (< 2% of body weight) can impair exercise performance and increase heat strain, especially in the heat.  A sweat test can tell you the degree of dehydration your workout might bring about as well as how much to add back in.  This simple test addresses losses as well as helps one develop a plan for how much to drink next time to prevent a similar state.  This test quantifies the amount of fluid lost by tracking weight before and after the workout as well as accounting for fluids consumed.  By combining the ounces of weight lost during the sweat session with the amount consumed during the workout, you’ll learn how much fluid to replace as well as plan for how much you should drink next time.

Recover right.  The workout may be done but it’s not yet time to rest.  You need to stop the muscle breakdown, begin the muscle recovery, and rehydrate if you want to perform well the next time out. Grab 15-30 grams of high quality protein in the hour post workout and start replacing sweat losses with fluids.  Consuming protein in shake or smoothie form is often a great option when you’re in need of refreshment but don’t have the stomach for something solid.  Keep it simple with shaker bottle, ZonePerfect Carb Wise protein powder, and water, milk, or nutmilk, or grab a convenient ready to drink protein shake. Both options deliver 30grams of protein, electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, and fluids.  When you’re ready to take recovery to the next level, add protein powder, fruits, and veggies, liquid, and ice to a blender and create a smoothie.  This refreshing bev will deliver additional nutrients and electrolytes to your hard working system.  For a nutrient-rich, bod(y) boosting smoothie, try the recipe listed below.

CarbWise Powerhouse Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 cup milk or unsweetened nut milk

2oz tart cherry juice concentrate

2 scoops ZonePerfect CarbWise protein powder, any flavor

1 generous handful leafy greens such as baby spinach or kale

1 cup frozen berries

1 cup ice

Directions:  In a blender, layer ingredients in order listed and process until smooth.  Pour into large, preferably insulated, cup and enjoy within an hour of finishing a workout.