Summer, this year, has been awfully warm. And humid too!
With the mercury soaring to a record high already, after the terribly hot May and June, now July and August are also expected to bring on more hot and thirsty days. So it is better to be prepared – than dehydrated!
But if you think being prepared means downing an energy drink or two, you are actually doing the exact opposite of what you actually need to do to sail through the summer in style.
Energy drinks are loosely defined as any beverage that acts as a physical and mental stimulant.
I, personally, am not a huge fan and have a problem when these drinks are considered ‘health drinks’ or marketed as an effective way to beat dehydration.
How Energy Drinks Dehydrate The Body
Let’s first understand what dehydration is.
At rest, our body loses around 100 ml water per hour. However, during exercise, or during times of excessive sweating (due to heat), the loss increases manifold.
And if we don’t replace the lost water quickly enough, we can become dehydrated. Also, lack of water is the number one trigger for fatigue.
Even mild dehydration – as little as a 1-2 percent loss of your body weight – can sap your energy and make you tired, disoriented, and listless.
Energy drinks are full of sugar, sodium, and loaded with caffeine - making them not just a poor nutrition choice, but also most definitely very dehydrating (yes, the opposite of hydrating). So, they are not really a good choice in hot weather.
Besides, the high amounts of sugar found in energy drinks (just read the label) are definitely not the best way to fuel your body, whatever the season.
An occasional drink is not likely to cause trouble but they can often be addictive as they help release the 'feel good' hormone dopamine in the brain.
So, I would stay wary of them.
What Should You Be Careful Of?
Energy drinks and alcohol don’t mix that well. Alcohol is a stimulant, a relaxant, and then a depressant. Most energy drinks, on the other hand, are caffeine loaded uppers.
While alcohol is working to put you to sleep, caffeine is saying ‘wake up’ – so an energy drink works in the opposite direction to alcohol. As a result your body and brain will be in turmoil, and you’ll feel really drab later.
How Can You Combat Dehydration?
Take water breaks throughout the day.
Always carry a water bottle when travelling.
Have a glass of water or juice with meals.
Drink a glass of water before stepping out.
Remember: Your thirst may not keep up with your need for fluids, so play it safe by drinking as much water, iced herbal tea, and juice as you can stomach.
Also avoid dehydrating drinks such as coffee, tea, and carbonated soda with caffeine, beer, wine, and other alcoholic drinks as they increase urinary water loss, dehydrate your body, and can make you feel worse. So that cola while shopping in the heat will not work.
Add Some Flavour To Your Drinks
Here's another tip if you can’t stomach plain water. Try these flavoured drinks:
'Orange zest': Combine 1 cup water, 2 tbsp fresh orange juice, and a pinch of salt. Chill.
'Grape n lemony buzz': Combine 1 cup grape juice, half a cup lemonade, and 1.5 cups water. Chill.
Not Drinking Enough Water? Eat It
Eat something at regular intervals as water is absorbed slower if it’s part of a food, so it remains for a longer time in your stomach.
Some foods that hydrate the body are:
Broths and soups
Puddings and gelatine desserts
Fruits like watermelon, muskmelon, papaya, pineapples and apples
Vegetables like cucumber, lettuce, tomato, broccoli, and carrots
(Kavita Devgan is a nutritionist, weight management consultant, and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of The Don't Diet Plan: A no-nonsense guide to weight loss, Fix it with Food, Ultimate Grandmother Hacks, and The Immunity Diet and 500 Recipes: Simple Tricks for Stress Free Cooking.)