5 Healthy Tips to Fuel Summer Workouts

by Elizabeth Vennefron, RDN, LD

Last Updated: July 30, 2020

It can be challenging to reintegrate physical activity after the physical limitations that came along with the COVID-19 pandemic. Embarking on a new workout plan or simply trying to be more active after being cooped up all spring can be challenging. Long, hot, sunny days can take energy out of you and, if you’re not careful, cause dehydration. Whether working out, tackling outdoor projects or enjoying your favorite beach time activities, set yourself up for success by fueling properly. We’ve put together some helpful tips to keep you going all summer long.
  1. Hydration
    With increasing temperatures, keeping the body hydrated is critical for heart health. Hydration isn’t just important during physical activity. On hot and sunny days, your body sweats to stay cool. If you’re someone who perspires heavily, you will need to drink even more. Water is the best source of hydration, but how much do you need? According to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, the adequate daily fluid intake is 15.5 cups for men and 11.5 cups for women. One of the easiest things to do is pay attention to the color of your urine. If it’s dark, you’re dehydrated. Sources of water also include foods, such as fruits and vegetables which contain a high percentage of water.
  2. Electrolytes
    When dehydrated, electrolyte levels are unbalanced, which can lead to severe problems such as coma, seizures and cardiac arrest. Sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride and magnesium are electrolytes that work together in operating your brain, nerves and muscles. They can become imbalanced with heavy fluid loss from exercise, sun burns and excessive alcohol consumption. It’s important to be aware of key signs of low electrolytes. For those exercising more than 30 minutes or spending several hours outside working up a sweat, replenish electrolytes with a sports drink.
  3. Antioxidants
    To protect the body from the wear and tear of sun exposure and high heat, it’s important to consume more foods containing antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from cell damage and promote new tissue growth and repair that will also protect skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays. Examples of antioxidants include vitamins C, E and carotenoids. Plant based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices are the best sources. Aim for lots of variety to ensure optimal intake.
  4. Quality Calories
    If you’re wanting to look and feel your best this summer, replacing empty or high calories foods with quality ones will help with losing weight. Empty calorie foods usually contain more calories, fat and added sugars. When consumed in excess amounts, they can lead to weight gain and increased risk for chronic illness such as diabetes or heart disease. Quality calorie foods contain a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that fuel your body. One strategy to incorporate more of these foods is to “Eat the Rainbow”.
  5. Meal Timing
    For those who work out twice a day or spend the whole day outside, it’s vital to fuel the body regularly. Start the day off with a wholesome breakfast, which will provide you with energy and keep you from overeating later in the day. It’s important to consume a small meal or snack every 3-4 hours or within 1 hour of completing a workout to replenish glycogen stores and keep energy levels up. Having healthy go-to snacks combining quality carbohydrates, protein and fat are sure to keep you fueled this summer.

Starting any workout program or planning healthy snacks to enjoy between outdoor projects can be difficult if you’ve been sedentary or eating the same foods throughout the past couple months. Try prioritizing health and nutrition this summer by reaching out to our team of Kroger Dietitians for more tips and tricks to optimize your health.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

Elizabeth Vennefron, RDN, LD

Elizabeth Vennefron, RDN, LD

Elizabeth loves being a dietitian because it connects her two passions- helping people, and healthy living. She’s a walking encyclopedia of better for you foods, meals, and culinary hacks to ensure her patients are enjoying the flavors they love while eating and staying well.