To get stronger this summer, you’ve got to understand how your body’s needs change with warmer weather.
Sun’s out, guns out! Summer days make fitness more fun and inviting, but the change of season also brings changes to your sports nutrition needs. Here’s how to fuel your body with the right diet and supplements to get the most out of your warm-weather workouts.
Sweat it out
Water makes up about 70 percent of your body, so it’s no surprise that staying hydrated is essential for
- regulating your body temperature while you exercise
- ensuring your cardiovascular system functions efficiently
- carrying nutrients to your muscles
- flushing metabolic waste generated by your workout
Exercising in the heat increases your sweat rate by 10 to 20 percent, which has serious implications for casual weekend warriors and Olympic athletes alike. For instance, losing just two percent of your weight in fluids reduces aerobic endurance and muscular strength.
Drink up, and drink often. And remember: Water isn’t the only option for staying hydrated. Eat hydrating foods like salad, melons, berries, and cucumbers. Drink coconut water (it’s a natural source of hydrating minerals). And infuse your water with fruits and herbs; they add a burst of flavor that encourages you to drink more.
Gas for the gym
The right pre-workout meal gives your body everything it needs to run farther and lift heavier. Carbohydrates get converted into glycogen, which your muscles use for energy. Protein improves muscle performance, increases your metabolism, and supports muscle strength and recovery. Fat provides energy for long workouts or exercises that are low or moderate intensity.
Eat a pre-workout meal two hours before you exercise. It should be high in carbohydrates and protein—30 to 45 g of each—and low in fat and fiber.
Hot weather adds a few unique factors to consider:
- Enjoy a moderate amount of salty seasonings, which ensure you have adequate sodium to replenish what you sweat out.
- Find ways to incorporate foods rich in water, carbs, and protein. Examples include yogurt, cottage cheese, and protein shakes.
- Avoid anything that may raise your body temperature, such as spicy foods and foods that are rich and fatty.
Don’t have time for a full meal? Eat a light snack 30 minutes before you exercise. It should be 75 percent carbs and 25 percent protein.
Ready for recovery
After you’ve set down the dumbbells, pick up a hydrating protein shake. Exercise causes a breakdown in muscle tissues. Drinking 20 to 40 g of a protein supplement immediately after working out maximizes muscle repair and speeds your recovery.
And that’s just the appetizer. To fight fatigue and protect future performance, you need carbohydrates to refuel your muscles since they’ve likely burned up all their stored glycogen.
Aim for a 3:1 ratio between carbohydrates and protein. Using the above example, that’s 120 g of carbohydrates to go along with your 40 g of protein. High-carb, moderate-protein recovery food combos include yogurt and fruit, sweet potato and egg scramble, or rice crackers with nut butter.
Practice safe sweat
As you update your warm-weather nutrition, update these workout factors too.
- Your pace: Take it slow in the beginning. Your body needs seven to 14 days to get used to exercising in hot weather.
- Your schedule: Exercise in the morning or late afternoon when temperatures (and heat exhaustion risks) are lower.
- Your workout clothes: Synthetic materials transfer heat efficiently and help cool you.
Summer is the perfect time to take your wellness to the next level. Level-up safely and effectively by keeping the season’s unique challenges and opportunities in mind!
Before the gym: Check your pre-workout body weight. Then, sip 20 oz of fluids three hours before your workout, and another 8 oz half an hour before exercising.
During your workout: Drink 10 oz of fluids every 20 minutes.
After the gym: Weigh yourself again, noting how much body weight you’ve lost during exercise. Drink 8 oz of fluids half an hour after exercise, plus 24 oz for every pound of weight you’ve lost.
When you’ve sweat a lot: Electrolytes (sodium, potassium, etc.) help with water retention and muscle function. Most people get everything they need from food, though you may need electrolyte supplements if you’re exercising 90 minutes or longer.
An active cooldown is critical in the summer. Go for a gentle walk for
10 minutes after exercising to give your heart rate and blood pressure time to come down.
Drink cherry juice
A study of marathon runners found that antioxidants in cherry juice speed the recovery process.
These healthy fats fight inflammation, minimize muscle soreness, and expedite recovery.
Have a cold shower
It immediately counters the negative effects of exercise-induced overheating, enhances workout recovery, and reduces fatigue.
Forget the temperature; check your local heat index instead. The heat index uses humidity levels to tell you how hot it feels. High humidity prevents your sweat from evaporating and cooling you down, increasing your risk of overheating.