September 1, 2020

Hydration 101 with Bonus Hydrating Recipes

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By Nicole Arcilla, MS, RDN, LDN
Follow Nicole on Instagram @YourGutFeelingRDN

When we hear “hydration” many of us automatically think of water and drinking enough of it. However, hydration is more than just drinking enough water. Proper hydration is when your body has a balance of both fluids and electrolytes. The presence of both is necessary, particularly for individuals who participate in prolonged intense physical activity (at least an hour) more than five times a week.

The amount of fluids required each day may differ between individuals. Factors include age, weight, physical activity levels, and how much you typically sweat (even without exercise). In general, a good rule of thumb is to aim for about 12 cups for women, and about 15 cups for men. This recommendation also accounts for water obtained through foods. Without foods, this calculates to about 9 cups for women and 11 cups for men (1 cup = 8 fluid ounces).

While various beverage companies offer electrolyte products, they are often expensive and can also be high in added sugar. Before purchasing one of these products, try to focus on foods first. Best sources of electrolytes include fruit, vegetables, some nuts and seeds, and even milk and yogurt.

When it comes to fluids, water is always the best choice, but you can also stay hydrated with 100% fruit juice, tea and coffee without added sugar and creamer, as well as milk and milk alternatives.


Image via Freepik

Here are some other tips for staying hydrated:

1. Drink at least one cup of water or non-sweetened beverage with each meal and snack. 

Meal times and snack times can feel like a more natural time to drink more fluids.

2. Set an alarm/reminder throughout the day.

When we get busy or caught up in a project or task, we pay less attention to our thirst cues. Setting a reminder to check in with yourself and stay hydrated can be a great way to re-focus on your needs.

3. Eat for hydration. 

There are many fruits and vegetables that are also very hydrating due to their natural water content. For fruits, go for melons, pears, berries and citrus fruits. Water-based vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, some varieties of lettuce, and bell peppers are great options too.

Finally, get creative with your beverage choices. Check out the recipe ideas articles for no added sugar beverage recipes.

1. Citrus-Mint Refresher

Serves 1


  • 4-5 shredded mint leaves or 2-3 drops peppermint extract
  • 3-4 thin slices lemon, orange, grapefruit, lime, or a combination
  • Water


  1. In a tall glass, add mint and slices of citrus. 
  2. Adjust portions as needed for flavor.
  3. You may also use a for to gently squeeze citrus fruits with mint to release more flavor.
  4.  Add water and ice.

 2. Calming Herbal Infused Water

Serves 1


  • 1-2 large basil leaves, shredded
  • 1 small sprig of rosemary
  • 1 small sprig of lemon thyme (if you don’t have lemon thyme simply use regular thyme with a light squeeze of lemon)
  • Water


  1. In a tall glass, add all herbs. 
  2. To enhance flavor gently squeeze leaves of herbs before adding to glass.
  3. Add water and ice.

3. Tropical Water Infusion

Serves 1


  • 2-3 strawberries, sliced
  • 3-4 chunks of mango
  • 1-2 large basil leaves, shredded
  • Water


  1. Add strawberries and mango to a small bowl and lightly crush with a fork or other kitchen tool. 
  2. If using frozen, allow fruits to thaw first.
  3. Once fruits are slightly crushed, add to a tall glass with basil.
  4. Add water and ice.
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