February 5, 2024

Nutritional Nugget: How To Hydrate In The Winter

MIT Recreation Nutritionist, Michelle Mix

By Michelle Mix, MS, RD, LDN, Registered Dietitian

Staying hydrated is essential to our health: it helps our organs function, regulates body temperature, and aids in digestion, along with helping our bodies perform thousands of biochemical  processes. But hot summer weather isn’t the only time that it’s crucial to stay hydrated; in fact, the cold temperatures can impair your thirst sensation making it harder to tell if you are dehydrated. In addition, cold dry air can thin mucus membranes in the nose and throat that normally protect us from germs. Keeping these tissues healthy helps to act as a barrier and reduces our risk for illness during typical indoor winter months.  

But if you’re planning to spend time outdoors in the winter enjoying a snowy walk, hitting the slopes, or even going for a run in cold air, start out hydrated and you’ll stay warmer while breathing easier. While you may not notice, your body is still sweating under the warm layers, and losing moisture through respiration. It’s important to replace these lost fluids by drinking three to eight ounces of water every 20 minutes of activity. Not only does this help with staying hydrated but will also help keep you warm! 

So how much fluid do you need to stay hydrated? An easy guide is to check the color of your urine – it should be clear to pale yellow if you are well hydrated. If it becomes darker yellow (a similar color to apple juice) it is indicating the beginning of dehydration and that you need more fluids. For a more specific estimate, divide your weight in pounds by 2 – the answer is approximately how many ounces you should be drinking daily to stay properly hydrated.


To help get started, here are some easy hydration tips:  

  • Drink before you feel thirsty; it’s much harder to “catch up” than to sip during the day 
  • Choose water most often, but it’s ok to have other low sugar and non-caffeinated beverages 
  • Find a fun water bottle to hydrate on the go! 

What counts as a fluid?  

  • Water, seltzer, flavored non-caloric water 
  • Low fat milk, almond milk, soy milk 
  • Herbal tea, decaf green/black tea 
  • 100% fruit and vegetable juices (including ones you make at home) 
  • Broth based soups 
  • Water filled fruits and vegetables like water melon, citrus, grapes, cucumbers, iceberg lettuce 
  • Other low sugar, non-caffeinated beverages

Try this fun and delicious, non-dairy latte on a cold day!

Winter Warmer Apple Tea Latte 


2 cups unsweetened almond milk (vanilla or plain) 

1 apple, cored and chopped 

1 Tbsp honey 

1 black tea bag 

Nutmeg or Cinnamon to taste 



  1. Heat milk, apple, and honey in a saucepan (or microwave). Add tea bag and steep for 5 minutes 
  1. When milk and tea reach desired consistency, run liquid through a sieve (or strain) and pour into two mugs. 
  1. Sprinkle with nutmeg and/or cinnamon and enjoy!  


*Recipe courtesy of Hannaford Supermarkets and adapted from montanahappy.com