The warmer months are upon us in Australia and the longer days combined with sunny weather are great motivators to getting outside and being more active. The heat also impacts most of us when it comes to what we eat and drink. Your body has many physiological adaptations to deal with heat. One of these is to direct blood flow to your skin to help cool your body. This means less blood goes to the internal organs, like those in your digestive system. As digestion may slow down, so too can our appetite, so it’s even more important to maximise the nutrition in what you’re eating.
Choose foods that are minimally processed, like wholegrain breads, lean meats, vegetables, fruit and dairy foods. Takeaway can seem like an easy option when it might be too hot to cook, but keep in mind there are many healthy meals that take as long to make as it would take to go and pick up the takeaway. Think salads or wraps with fresh vegetables and some cheese or cold meat, or fruit salad with yoghurt. Even a quick meal of baked beans on toast is going to do your body more good than highly processed and nutrient-poor ‘fast foods’.
What about drinks?
Fluid needs are highly individual and depend greatly on body size as well as activity levels. In warmer conditions, your body sweats more to help cool down your core temperature, meaning more water evaporates from your skin and extra fluid is needed. Sipping regularly on water is a good way to achieve this.
If exercising in the heat, drinking cold water can help to cool your body quicker and aid with recovery. Sports drinks are well researched and have been found to improve performance for endurance athletes exercising for longer than two hours. They hydrate better than water and provide energy in the form of carbohydrates to exercising cells when it is needed, but consuming them on a regular basis without the prolonged exercise can counteract weight loss efforts and contribute to tooth decay due to the high sugar content.
High sugar drinks that gain popularity in hot weather such as frozen ‘slurpees’ are made from concentrated cordial, and are very high in sugar with no nutritional benefits.
One medium sized cup contains roughly 220 calories (924 kilojoules). Instead try a regular icy pole to cool you down (75 calories / 315 kilojoules) and a tall glass of cold water!