Knowing how to stay hydrated during the summer is important. Water prevents heat-related illnesses and protects your muscles against cramping and fatigue. Still, whether because they aren’t thirsty or want to avoid stomach cramps, many athletes don’t drink enough water.
Fortunately, drinking water isn’t the only way to hydrate. An easy way to take in extra water—along with a ton of useful nutrients—is by eating high-water-content foods such as the ones below.
Cantaloupe, peaches and strawberries: high in electrolytes
These fruits are not only high in water, they also contain potassium, an important electrolyte. Electrolytes help form ions in your body that carry electrical energy critical to functions such as muscle contractions and nerve impulses. When combined with sodium, potassium helps maintain optimal fluid levels, which helps regulate your heart beat and circulation. One cup of these fruits contains 5-10 percent of your daily potassium. Try slicing them up and adding them to salads, smoothies or cereal—or eat them whole for a quick snack before or after a run.
Watermelon, kiwi and citrus fruits: high in vitamin C
These fruits, also packed with water, are esepcially high in vitamin C, which helps maintain cartilage and joint flexibility. Meeting one third of your daily vitamin C requirement per serving, they can also increase your range of motion. Vitamin C also protects your skin by combating the negative effects of UV rays, pollution and sweat.
Tomatoes and broccoli: cancer-fighting
Tomatoes are high in water and lycopene, an antioxidant shown to reduce the risk of cancer. Broccoli is 90 percent water and contains compounds called isothiocyanates, which, according to a 2010 study in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, block a defective gene that causes cells to become cancerous. Try adding tomatoes to your sandwich or grill them with olive oil. Add broccoli to your next stir fry or salad for a nice crunch.
Pineapples and cherries: good for muscle recovery
In addition to their high water content, both of these fruits have been shown to help you recover post-run. Studies show that the enzyme bromelain, found in pineapple, may reduce inflammation and speed up muscle repair.
“Tart cherries contain anthocyanins and melatonin, which reduce inflammation,” says Russel J. Reiter, Ph.D., professor of cellular and structural biology at the University of Texas Health Science Center. Try adding pineapples and cherries to yogurt, blend them into your smoothie, or eat them whole to help rehydrate after your run.
Yogurt and kefir: immunity-boosting
Eating probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt and kefir can protect you from respiratory tract infections,which are especially detrimental to runners. Yogurt usually has one to five strains of healthy probiotics. Kefir, a yogurt-like drink, can contain as many as 12 strains. One cup of each also contains 10-12 grams of protein, a building block not only for your muscles but also for your immune system. Try substituting Greek yogurt for mayonnaise in your chicken salad, adding it to your smoothie, or eating it with fresh fruit for a post-run snack.
Beans: aid digestion
One cup of cooked kidney, pinto or garbanzo beans provides a half cup of water, as much protein as two eggs and half your daily fiber needs. Fiber keeps your digestive system functioning, helps lower cholesterol and controls appetite. Beans are a balanced combination of carbohydrates and protein, allowing for a slower release of blood sugar for optimal performance. Beans are also an excellent source of protein for vegetarian runners, providing essential amino acids found in meat. Try adding beans to your stir fry, pasta salads, or blend it with olive oil to make your own hummus.
Goldman, Leslie. “Eat Your Water: Hydrating foods provide plenty of fluid and nutrients to fuel hot summer runs.” Runner’s World, May 26, 2011.