What Should I Drink Before, During, and After Exercise?
When you’re working out, what should you drink?
The answer is not as simple as it might seem. There are a lot of factors that go into choosing the right drink for your workout and there's no one-size-fits-all solution.
Here we'll explore some of the most important considerations when selecting a beverage to help fuel your workouts and maintain good health.
What do I want my goal to be?
As with many things in life, it pays to think about what your long-term goals or desired outcome are before making any decisions or taking any actions.
If you're trying to lose weight, then drinking water during exercise will prevent dehydration and help aid in fat burning by boosting metabolism.
On the other hand, if you're trying to gain weight, then drinking a sports drink during exercise will help boost performance and make your muscles feel less sore after.
How intense is my workout?
The intensity of the workout is another important factor in deciding what type of beverage to consume.
If you are doing more intense activities where your breathing is increased, it's best to stay hydrated with water beforehand.
If your workouts are more relaxed, then a sports drink might be right for you.
Drinking too much water before an easy jog or walk can result in stomach cramping since there isn't enough energy being expended on the activity to warrant the use of extra energy stores.
Thus, drinking too early can lead to dehydration during low-intensity workouts.
What type of sports drink should I drink?
During your activity, you may use sports drinks like Gatorade, Powerade, and All Sport to give you an energy boost.
They're built to quickly replenish fluids and enhance the amount of glucose (sugar) flowing through your veins.
However, the important thing is you hydrate yourself; this can be done with regular water or sports drinks.
What time of day do I work out?
The best time to hydrate is right before you start working out, and then replenish with a post-workout beverage when you're done.
If you plan on drinking water throughout the day, make sure it's at least an hour before your workout starts for it to slowly pass through your stomach and intestines and be absorbed by the body.
Drinking too much water during exercise can lead to dangerous consequences like hyponatremia (low blood salt concentration). So where possible, moderate your water intake before, during, and after exercise.
Am I doing endurance training or quick bursts of activity?
If you're doing shorter, more intense workouts like spinning or weight lifting, then water is probably enough to prevent dehydration.
If you plan on training for a long time, it's best to opt for sports drinks that contain electrolytes in addition to carbohydrates.
This is because during endurance sports when your muscles are using glycogen at an increased rate, they also start breaking down proteins and amino acids to use them as another form of energy -- this causes an increase of acidity in the muscle cells which leads to fatigue over time.
The electrolytes found in sports drinks - sodium, potassium, calcium - can decrease acidity levels in these muscles and therefore improve performance by delaying fatigue.
Studies have shown that your body requires more fluid when exercising to prevent you from becoming dehydrated or overheating.
If you don't want to drink plain water all the time, try adding juice, tea, coffee, or sports drinks as well as plain water to meet your daily needs which can make drinking more enjoyable as well as provide antioxidants for the immune system health!
What type of exercise am I doing?
Different types of physical activity require different types and amounts of fluid to maintain proper hydration. For example, aerobic or endurance activities where your breathing is increased - such as long-distance running or cycling - require more fluids than anaerobic activities where you're breathing heavily but not necessarily sweating profusely - such as weight lifting.
Exercise that takes place in a hot environment also requires additional fluids for optimal performance because your sweat rate increases when you are in a hot climate.
What else am I eating during my workout?
If you plan on drinking water, sports drinks, or even coffee during your workouts it's important to make sure they do not interfere with the absorption of the nutrients from other foods you eat during your workout.
This is because your stomach is now busy processing those fluids and may not have the capacity to absorb everything from your food as quickly as usual.
What Should I Drink After My Workout?
You should drink at least 16 ounces (about 500ml) of fluids within 30 minutes of finishing your workout.
Ideally, you should drink another 8-16 ounces (250-500 ml) in the following two hours.
If you're exercising in hot weather or sweating more than normal due to high-intensity workouts, then it's best to replace your lost electrolytes with a sports drink that contains sodium and potassium salts. If not, eat foods rich in these electrolytes after your workouts such as bananas or tomatoes.
How do I prevent cramps?
If you get muscle cramps or feel muscle pain after a workout, have a banana - it helps with the absorption of electrolytes.
Bananas also help relieve cramps because they contain magnesium which is responsible for muscle relaxation and contraction.
How do I prevent injuries?
You will likely get more benefits from drinking lots of fluids when you exercise if you drink them in addition to your usual diet instead of in place of your usual diet.
Studies have shown that drinking fluids before and during exercise may help reduce the risk of overuse injuries such as stress fractures by keeping your joints properly hydrated.
Tips for staying hydrated throughout the day:
- Drinking an extra glass of water every time you eat a meal
- Drinking more fluids on hot days or during intense workouts -- aim for 8 ounces (250ml) for every 15 minutes that you exercise
- Using the colour of your urine to measure hydration levels -- the more diluted it is, the better!
- Drink the right amount for you. Everyone is different and you'll need to find what works best for you. Listen to your body and it will tell you what it needs!
- Keep a water bottle with you throughout the day. This will help to remind you to stay hydrated.
- Remember that coffee, tea, caffeinated sodas or alcoholic beverages are diuretics and will dehydrate you so don't count these as part of your fluid intake.
- Record what you drink throughout the day so that you have a good idea of your daily fluid intake. This makes it easier for you to track if you're meeting your goals or not!
- Set an alarm or reminder to drink water throughout your day.
- Remember that your body is very good at telling you when it needs to drink water -- listen to its cues!
- Lastly, add flavour to your water by infusing some fruit or vegetables into it. This will make sure that you are getting the fluids you need while also ensuring that your water tastes great!
How do I know if I'm dehydrated?
Common signs of dehydration include headache, fatigue, dizziness, confusion, fainting spells, and dry skin.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, try to drink 16 ounces (500 ml) of fluids as soon as possible.
What happens if I don't drink enough water?
Lack of hydration can have serious consequences and lead to things like:
-Decreased exercise capacity due to muscle fatigue or cardiovascular strain;
-Increased risk of injuries such as broken bones;
-Muscle cramps and spasms, especially in the legs and feet;
-Dizziness and fainting spells;
Prolonged exercise can cause your body to lose fluids, which may lead to dehydration.
This is why you must drink enough water before and after exercising, as well as during the workout itself.
Drinking lots of water will help keep you energized throughout the day by replenishing lost electrolytes and keeping your skin hydrated.
It's also incredibly beneficial to drink lots of water when exercising because it will allow you to get more benefits out of your workout.
You should aim for 6-8 ounces (175-250 ml) every 15 minutes during exercise and 16 ounces (500 ml) immediately after your workout.
To supplement your fluid intake, try adding some flavour by infusing fruit or vegetables into the water!
During intense workouts, be sure to replenish lost electrolytes with a sports drink that contains sodium and potassium salts. If not, eat foods rich in these electrolytes like bananas or tomatoes once finished with your workout.
If you get muscle cramps or feel muscle pain, have a banana - it helps with the absorption of electrolytes and natural sugars.
However, if you're exercising for longer than an hour or so, drink a sports drink that has sodium and potassium salts to prevent your muscles from cramping up.
If you're struggling with the taste of this drink, try adding some flavours like mint leaves, ginger pieces, or lemon wedges.
Do you have any hints and tips for staying hydrated?
Remember to share them with us by leaving a comment!