4 Hydration Hacks for Winter Workouts
Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD
Winter’s icy grip has tightened, and while bundling up for runs and gym sessions is key, there’s another crucial element often overlooked: hydration. We tend to associate thirst with scorching summer days, but staying adequately hydrated in the cold is just as important (if not more!).
Think about it: your body is still working hard, generating heat, and losing fluids through sweat (yes, even when it’s freezing!). Dehydration, even mild, can zap your energy, affect your performance, and leave you feeling crummy.
But fear not, fellow winter warriors! Here are 4 hydration hacks to keep your workouts flowing and your body happy:
- Start Hydrated, Stay Hydrated: Forget the “chug water when you’re thirsty” summer approach. Winter workouts require a proactive strategy. Think of your body as a well-oiled machine: prime it with 16-20 ounces (about 2 glasses) of water 2-3 hours before your workout. This top-up ensures you’re not starting in a hydration deficit. Throughout the day, keep a reusable water bottle by your side, not just for the gym. Aim for 8-10 ounces every 20-30 minutes, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Remember, thirst cues can be delayed in the cold, so stay ahead of the game!
- Make a Plan: Ice-cold water might be refreshing in the summer, but in winter, it can be a recipe for discomfort and digestive upset. Opt for lukewarm or room-temperature fluids to keep your core temperature stable and your stomach happy. To ward off boredom, infuse your water with berries or citrus, or add a squeeze of lemon or lime. Herbal teas are another great option, offering warmth, subtle flavor, and potential health benefits. For longer or intense workouts, consider a sports drink with electrolytes like sodium and potassium. These replenish what you lose through sweat and maintain proper muscle function. Schedule your fluid intake based on time or mileage intervals. For example, take a few sips every 20 minutes or every mile during your run. This ensures you’re consistently replenishing your fluids and prevents that dreaded “bonk” mid-workout.
- Keep the Freeze at Bay: Icy water bottles are a winter workout no-no. Invest in an insulated bottle or hydration pack to keep your precious fluids from turning into popsicles. Tuck your water bottle or pack close to your body for an extra layer of warmth and add salt to lower the freezing point. Remember that public water fountains might be turned off for the winter, so make an alternate plan in case you need to refill.
- Listen to Your Body: Your body is your best hydration gauge. Pay attention to the color of your urine. Aim for pale yellow to clear, as dark yellow or orange can indicate dehydration. Don’t ignore thirst cues – they’re your body’s way of telling you it needs fluids. When we’re cold, our thirst signals can be muted, so consider tracking your water intake on a fitness app or using a simple bottle with markings to stay on top of your hydration goals.
Remember, staying hydrated in winter is just as crucial as in summer. By following these simple tips, you can ensure your workouts are enjoyable, effective, and safe. So, grab your gear, choose your hydration weapon, and conquer those winter workouts!