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Hydration for Athletes: Why Eating Your Water is Just as Important as Drinking It

Proper hydration can mean the difference between hitting a new personal record or hitting the wall, but there's more to it than just keeping your water bottle handy. 

It’s also about retaining water and maintaining a balance of minerals like sodium, potassium, and magnesium that are essential to your body's physiological processes. When combined with water, electrolytes play an important role in muscle contractions, nerve function, fluid balance and just about everything else an athlete’s body needs to perform its best. 

When it comes to hydration, what you eat is just as important as what you drink, and that’s where whole foods like fruits and vegetables come in.

 

The Most Hydrating Foods You Can Eat

Many of nature’s most hydrating foods are the fruits and vegetables you likely have in your fridge already. Here are some common ones with excellent hydrating properties:

  • Cucumbers contain 96% water and are high in potassium, making them a go-to for the hydration and electrolytes needed for fluid regulation and muscle function during physical activity.
  • Watermelon is rich in water (about 92%) and citrulline, which can potentially improve blood flow, enhancing nutrient delivery and waste removal from your muscles during and after exercise.
  • Oranges are packed with vitamin C, potassium and about 86% water, making them the perfect portable snack for on-the-go athletes.
  • Berries, including strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, are made up of about 85% water and are loaded with antioxidants that combat oxidative stress and provide sustained energy through their fibre content.
  • Leafy greens like spinach and kale are packed with 90–95% water, vitamins, and minerals that support muscle function and electrolyte balance—this is a great one!
  • Coconut water, which is loaded with electrolytes and natural sugars, is an effective hydration solution that contains about 94% water, offering quick energy and recovery support that’s ideal for athletes.

While these foods are all very hydrating, it’s not always practical to be snacking or carrying them around. That’s why we developed Hydra+ to keep athletes hydrated when access to real food is limited. 

It’s a powdered electrolyte drink mix made from nothing but coconut water, sea salt and fruit juices from mango and passionfruit that leverages their natural hydrating properties. It offers the convenience of sipping on water but with electrolyte and sugar levels found in the foods listed above. And it tastes damn good, too.

You can check out how Hydra+ supports your training, performance and recovery in our Hydra+ user guide for athletes.

 

Why Fruits and Vegetables Help Hydrate You Better Than Water Alone

Water is fundamental to any hydration strategy, but whole foods like fruit and vegetables play an equally important role, too. They offer levels of essential nutrients that water and any neon-coloured sports drink just can't match. 

They’re packed with electrolytes and sugars that enhance water absorption and retention, supporting your performance, recovery and overall health. But drinking water is still a must, and food is not a substitute. Think of it as complementary to your water intake.

A Note on Sugar:

It’s often vilified by the health industry, but when consumed in its natural form, sugar accelerates and optimizes the hydration process. Together with sodium, glucose (sugar) helps facilitate the absorption of water and electrolytes into your cells. And while moderation is key, don't fear the natural sugars found in whole foods like fruit and some vegetables. They offer sustained energy release compared to the refined sugars in sports drinks and other highly processed products, so they keep you energized for longer.

 

How to Add More Hydrating Foods to Your Diet

Incorporating more hydrating foods into your diet is easier than you might think. And it doesn’t mean you have to be eating all the time—you can add them to what you’re already eating on a daily basis.

For example, toss in an extra handful of spinach and your favourite berries to that smoothie you start your day with, or add some cucumber and orange slices to your usual post-training snack. But don’t feel limited! You can add more hydrating whole foods to just about anything—salads, stir-fries, oatmeal and even a sweet treat like ice cream.

Simple, right? It doesn’t have to be a hassle. 

Speaking of snacks, routinely taking your supplements when having a hydrating snack can be a game-changer, especially if you’re the forgetful type. For more tips on this, we wrote a guide about how to make taking your supplements a daily habit.

 

Our Thoughts on Eating Your Water

Hydration for athletes is about more than just drinking lots of water. And while that’s important, proper hydration is also about consuming a balanced diet that helps your body absorb more water by giving it the essential electrolytes and sugars it needs.

By embracing a more strategic, nuanced approach to hydration, one that includes plenty of hydrating whole foods like fruits and vegetables and takes advantage of innovative solutions like Hydra+, you’ll ensure you’re always ready to perform your best, no matter the circumstance.

So, to make a long story short: eat your water, but keep drinking it, too.

 

— That’s all for now, train hard!