As a dietitian, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I sometimes have a hard time staying hydrated. In fact, some days I drink more coffee than water! I know I’m not the only one, and that’s why I’m excited about this ridiculously easy way to boost your hydration status during the hot summer months.
An agua fresca is a refreshing drink made by blending a fruit or any edible flower or seed with fresh water, sugar, and ice to make a thirst-quenching summer beverage. I didn’t think the watermelon needed any added sugar, so I simply blended one mini seedless watermelon with about 12 ice cubes, and served it immediately. I also added about a tablespoon of lime juice for some extra kick. It’s so easy, I can barely call it a recipe.
You can do this with almost any fruit — melons and strawberries would be easily blended. But I was excited to use watermelon: in addition to being 90% water and rich in potassium and vitamins A and C, it has some surprising benefits. It is rich in lycopene, which is a potent antioxidant. Watermelon is also a fantastic source of L-citrulline, an amino acid that aids in improving circulation and reducing muscle soreness. I drank some of this juice before working out yesterday, and I can (anecdotally) agree with that research today! I felt more energized during my work out, and today have minimal muscle soreness. L-citrulline supplements are sold over the counter, but research indicates that cells absorb it better from its natural source.
So there you have it — in addition to being a tasty way to hydrate and a fantastic source of nutrition, watermelon is of particular benefit to athletes. Give it a try!
Last weekend I hiked to the summit of Silver Star Mountain, an awesome Lord of the Rings-esque peak that gave me and my buddies a shining view of five (FIVE!) mountains in the area–Mt. Rainier, Mt. St Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and tiny little Mt. Jefferson. It was only about three miles up to the top, but the 4000+ ft. elevation gain coupled with the 85 degree heat made the trip something to brag about.
As a future RD, I’m obligated to promote water and electrolytes on excursions like these. We were all sweating like water faucets and most of us ran out of water by the end. (Note to self: buy a camelback.) Water will usually do the trick for anything under an hour. But….
Gonna be out for longer? Braving exceptional heat? Pack some salty snacks! Sodium is the most-needed electrolyte for endurance events, but potassium, chloride, and magnesium are important too. Salty trail mix, bananas, dried fruits, and peanut butter (magnesium fights fatigue!) are great snack choices when you’re out on the trail. I’m not necessarily opposed to things like Gatorade and Gu gels, but it is possible to get what you need from whole foods without some of the added sugar and non-nutritive sweeteners that come with commercial electrolyte-replacement products.
The most important rule? Drink more water than you think you need. Make a conscious effort to take a swig of water every fifteen minutes. Believe me, you don’t want anything holding you back from that summit view!