The Summer I Stayed Hydrated: 3 Heat and Hydration Tips

Staying hydrated, especially in rising summer temperatures, can be tricky. Nutrition expert Pam Bede has tips.

It’s hot.

Not to state the obvious, but this summer has been a scorcher. With the summer of 2023 expected to go down as the hottest on record and withering heatwaves breaking out in North America, Europe and Asia, we’re not being dramatic. It’s really hot.

Trying to soak up every second of summer — heading outside, going camping, hitting the beach or just trying to make it through the average day without burning to a crisp — makes staying hydrated tricky.

Hydration and nutrition expert Pam Nisevich Bede knows this well. As a marathon runner and mom of active kids who engage in outdoor sports throughout the season, she understands the importance of maintaining hydration.

Simply put, “you need to be taking in fluid throughout the day, every day,” Bede, senior manager of medical affairs and sports dietitian at Abbott, said.

If that seems daunting, she has a few tips for staying on top of your hydration game in the heat.

Tip 1: “Pre-Load” Your Hydration

If you’re anything like Bede — someone who is either outside, running around with her kids or distance running (and sometimes all three) — chances are, you could benefit from “pre-hydrating,” or increasing your intake of the water or fluids you’ll need ahead of an event.

If you’ve ever carb-loaded, increasing your intake of carbs in the hours before a workout or activity to build up your source of energy, this is similar and can help you get ahead. By stocking your electrolyte and water stores in advance, it’s almost like stocking essentials ahead of a weather event or making sure your gas tank is full before a road trip.

Also, important to note is that when engaging in activities like running, team sports, working outside or attending outdoor events for days on end, pre-hydrating with an electrolyte drink or water in the hours before activity helps to ensure that you’re not falling behind.

“If your day is over, it’s easy to skip rehydration,” Bede said. “You may feel like, ‘I checked that box.’ But what are you doing for tomorrow?”

It’s important to keep looking forward and not just wait until you feel thirsty.

Tip 2: Find a Reminder that Works for You

You’ve likely seen reusable water bottles with measurement lines that read “Keep going!” or “Almost there!” or “Time to refill!”

For some, that’s a great method of keeping track of your daily hydration — one that Bede herself finds helpful. But others may need a different kind of push.

Bede even recommends setting an alarm to serve as a reminder to stay on top of your hydration. Bede suggests starting with a prompt to drink as often as every 30 minutes throughout the day, especially while engaging in athletic activity outside. In cases of extreme heat, like what much of the globe has seen this summer, bumping those alarms up to every 20 minutes may be needed, depending on factors like sweat loss and humidity.

Bede also noted that the effectiveness of our thirst sensor, which tells us that we’re thirsty, varies among people and typically declines with age and activity, so we need to be extra conscious of how much we’re drinking, even if we don’t feel thirsty.

An alarm reminding you to drink water in the hour after you wake up and before a drop of coffee hits your lips helps start your day off on the right foot. Keeping those alarms going throughout the day will make forgetting to hydrate much harder.

Whichever method you choose, ensure that it’s realistic for your daily routine.

Tip 3: Don’t Forget the Electrolytes

There are times, especially in history-making heat, where water might not be enough. That’s where electrolytes come in.

Electrolytes are minerals that help your body absorb and maintain the fluids you consume while supporting healthy muscle and nerve function, and can be your best friend on especially hot and/or active days.

“If you’re out in the heat and humidity, whether you’re at the beach, on a run, doing yard work or otherwise, you’ll likely be sweating,” Bede said. “You may not realize it with a breeze on your face or a body of water cooling down your skin temperature, but you may be losing key electrolytes like sodium and overall hydration.”

She recommends incorporating an electrolyte drink, like Pedialyte or Pedialyte Sport to help replenish lost electrolytes, for everyone from kids at camp or on the soccer field to adults out for a run or spending a day on the beach.

“With my kids, I don’t want to send them to sports or camp with the risk that they could end up in a risky situation, being dehydrated,” Bede said. “I send them with two bottles — one with just water, and another with water mixed with Pedialyte to make sure they have what they need.”

Enjoy summer. Enjoy the outdoors. Enjoy the few months many of us can hit the beach, get some sun and open our windows. But with the heat, don’t let hydration fall to the wayside.