As a beach-loving woman, I adore summer. As a runner, I could definitely do without the blazing sun, scorching temperatures, and red-hot pavement. With less than ideal conditions, it becomes extremely important to pay attention to what you’re putting in your body. Luckily, making simple adjustments to your fueling routine will help you tackle the warmer weather. Granted, nothing is going to make you sweat less, but these summer nutrition tips will definitely make you feel slightly better about your performance on even the hottest of days.
1. Plan to Hydrate
As a runner, hydrating properly in the warmer weather is one of the most important aspects of performance. Not only will dehydration make you feel terrible; it can also cause headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and even more serious health complications. If possible, wear a hydration belt or carry a water bottle during summer runs to make sure you have water with you at all times. If you’re not able to carry water on your run, try to find a route with water fountains along the way.
Make sure you also have a water bottle with you throughout the day. Pro tip: Insulated bottles can keep beverages cold all day long.
2. Visit the Farmer’s Market
Seasonal fruits are just one of the many perks of summer. Visit your local farmer’s market to stock up on seasonal produce. It tastes absolutely amazing, and it has plenty of nutrients that are beneficial for runners. Here are some of my favorites:
- Blueberries contain inflammation-fighting antioxidants.
- Watermelon is a great source of water and potassium, an important electrolyte for hydration.
- Peaches are also a good source of potassium.
- Dark cherries are rich in antioxidants.
Or enroll in a community shared agriculture (CSA) program to get a box of farm-fresh produce delivered to you regularly.
3. Embrace Salty Foods
Too much salt can be a bad thing, and it can even cause high blood pressure and cholesterol. But salt is also a major component of sweat, and those running in the heat lose much more of it than they think. If you run outdoors in the summer, don’t shy away from the salt shaker or salty foods. You don’t need to eat an entire family-sized bag of potato chips, but definitely feel free to add some extra salty foods to your day, like pretzels, pickles, or olives.
Sometimes we rely on cravings to tell our body what it needs, but it’s important to note that cravings (or lack of) can fail us. According to research exercising in the heat can make you less likely to crave salt, at a time when you may need it more, similar to not feeling thirsty when you are dehydrated.
4. Spice Up Your Water to Stay Hydrated
If you find that you’re never able to get quite enough of the good stuff, try spicing up your water with different fruits and herbs. Infused water is one of the simplest ways to add some flavor to your drink without added sugar. Just add water and fruit to a water bottle or large pitcher and let it sit overnight. Try different combinations with ingredients like fresh mint, basil, berries, kiwis, watermelon or cucumber.
5. Grill It Up
The grill isn’t just for hamburgers and hot dogs: It’s a really simple cooking tool that can help you get a healthy dinner on the table quickly. Use the grill for cooking fish, chicken, or even vegetarian options, like tofu or tempeh. All it takes is a brush of olive oil, some salt, pepper, and your favorite marinade to make a healthy dinner in minutes. Or add some thick-cut veggies to a skewer and grill them up for some tasty vegetable kabobs.
Plus, why not spend as much time outdoors as possible? Soak up the warm weather while you’ve got it.
6. Start A Garden
Gardening can be therapeutic and a useful tool in your healthy eating arsenal. Broaden your horizons beyond flowers and try growing your own fresh herbs and vegetables. Tomatoes, zucchini, and green beans grow well in the summer, and it’s quite exciting to eat something that you grew from a seedling. Herbs make a great addition to the aforementioned flavored water and your favorite summer salads and grilled proteins. They also have a ton of nutrients.