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As a general rule adults need around 2 litres of fluid a day but we’re all different so need to be mindful of what our individual needs are. This will need to take account of such things as the amount of physical activity we do and how hot our environment is, whether that’s from sunny days or centrally heated homes or offices. Air conditioned offices cause the air to become dry and this can increase fluid loss. Illness can also affect our hydration status when it’s particularly easy to neglect fluids but more important than ever to make sure we get them.
We replace fluid mainly from what we drink but also get some from our food particularly fruit and vegetables.
When it comes to choice of drink, water is always the best option and a good tip is to have a water bottle close by and drink from it during the day. Water is calorie free and if you prefer some flavour you can add a slice of citrus fruit or some mint or cucumber.
If choosing squash, fruit juice, fizzy drinks or fruit smoothies then do remember these have sugars in them which won’t be helpful if you’re watching your weight. If you’ve been running or otherwise physically active for a long session, particularly on a hot day then you might wish to replace lost minerals with an electrolyte tablet in your water.
Milk is a great choice for hydrating and in one study looking to develop a ‘Beverage Hydration Index’ it was found that semi-skimmed milk was better than water for rehydration. This is mainly because it stays in the body for longer. It also contains protein, calcium and B vitamins. Note also the calorie content.
If you’re unable to drink cows’ milk then there’s a whole range of plant based milks including rice, oat, soya and cashew but again, make sure to choose the unsweetened versions to minimise an unnecessary calories. One of my favourite drinks after a long run is a chocolate plant milk and I’ve earned the calories 😊
Tea and coffee are mainstays of many people’s fluid intake but they do have caffeine in them which is a mild diuretic. Even decaffeinated coffee has about 20% caffeine but they still all count.
Alcohol too has diuretic properties and whilst it is fluid, in excess it can cause significant dehydration. As a general recommendation, if you know you’re going to be drinking a lot of alcohol then you should match the volume with the same volume of water.
If in doubt you’ll not go wrong with plain water.
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