Dehydration, Desperation and Dry as a Bone- Handling the Heat!

Last Thursday morning I awoke in a state of shock, not from a bad dream, but what turned out as a serious case of dehydration and electrolyte deficiency. My body had shut down and was on the verge of needing hospital attention. Thankfully I have friends in medicine that makes  house calls during the wee hours of the morning! Needless to say, this scared the you know what out of me.

I’m the fitness guru, this stuff isn’t suppose to happen to me, I should know better; these were the first things that came to mind. However, I just didn’t see it coming! And like most, when you feel thirsty it’s usually after the fact. But, this was serious, I knew it and I was desperate.

Self imposed stress, weight loss, not a greatest of combinations of food, the heat, and lack of fluids all contributed to my dehydration. So what’s the solution, proactive thinking? Sounds simple, but takes work, there’s no doubt about it. At least in my case, hind site was twenty-twenty!

Here are some tips for staying hydrated in this uncomfortable heat:


Infused Water- If you’re not a fan of regular-old-H2O but don’t need a serious sports drink, infused water is a great way to add a little kick to the plain stuff. You can go store-bought — think electrolyte-enhanced varieties — or make your own.

Caffeinated Drinks- It may surprise you, but the latest research suggests coffee and tea can be a boost to your hydration efforts. “You retain more liquid than you lose.”There’s a catch, though: “It’s fine to have 12 ounces of a caffeinated drink before you work out.” “But you should have one to two liters of your beverage of choice before you exercise in the heat, and you should not be having liters of caffeine.”

Chocolate Milk – This childhood treat was a great way to rehydrate post-workout, with the added benefit of protein, carbs and sugars to replace the nutrients you lose during exercise. “Organic chocolate milk comes in little six-to-eight ounce cartons — it’s pre-portioned and a great way to get your water, protein and calcium.”

Veggies- Veggies are a great way to “eat your water.” “Many vegetables are more than 90 percent water, and soluble fiber helps you push it through your system.” As an added bonus, veggies are a great pre-workout food — they break down very quickly, so you can grab a green snack 15 minutes before a workout and still be rarin’ to go.

Coconut Water – “It’s kind of hot right now,” “It has a lot of electrolytes, fewer calories than a sports drink and you also get carbohydrates to help you through the workout.”


Soda– Soda is never at the top of any nutritionist’s list for healthy beverages, but it’s particularly dicey if you’re trying to stay hydrated to get through a workout. However, sugary, fizzy concoctions can lead to bloating and stomach cramping, both of which can slow you down.” A lot of sodas also have sodium, and we get so much sodium in our diets, we usually don’t need more,” If you must have a soda, have it well before you hit the pavement.

Alcohol – “Alcohol dehydrates you, plain and simple.” “You can drink in the summer, but always do it after workouts, not before, and always have at least a cup of water between drinks.”

Seltzer – This cousin of H2O may seem like a good workout-hydration pick, but it’s got its drawbacks. “Like soda, it can cause bloating and gas, which isn’t optimal for a workout.” There’s also a quantity-consumed issue: “For exercise, you need something that’s really gulp-able. Bubbles can slow you down, it’s hard to drink. You can’t chug seltzer.” Really craving a bit of fizz? Try naturally-bubbly water, like Perrier.

Greg Ryan is an accomplished author, personal trainer, life coach and owner of Resolutions Preventative Health Care through Fitness for Seniors and Diabetics in St. Matthews.