From plain old unadorned water to sports drinks, vitamin water and protein shakes, you’ll discover a wide range of hydration options that are touted to improve your exercise regime. Maybe you’ve planned on what to eat and drink before and after your workout, but how much thought have you put into what to drink during your workout routine?
When you get dehydrated, your blood becomes thicker, meaning that your heart has to work harder and less oxygen is being pumped to your muscles. All of this adds up to fatigue, which can negatively affect your workout performance. Staying hydrated helps you have more energy to push through your workout.
Plain water is typically all you need if you plan on exercising for an hour or less. A good rule of thumb is to drink about 8 ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes. However, your exact hydration needs are based on how much you sweat. If you want to know precisely how much water to drink, you can weigh yourself without clothes before and after exercise. That will tell you how much weight you have lost through sweat. You should try to drink that much during each workout to keep yourself well hydrated.
If you struggle to drink as much water as you know you should be getting during your workout, a flavored water can help. It all depends on your taste preferences, but if some flavor is going to help you stay hydrated, go for it. Before you start chugging that bottle of vitamin water, though, be sure to check the label. If you want the flavor without the added sugar or other unnecessary ingredients, you can always try creating your own flavored water. Adding fruits such as lemon, lime, or even strawberries can give your water some extra flavor without all the calories. Here are a few infused water recipes to give you some ideas.
The value of commercial sports drinks comes into play when you plan on exercising for more than an hour or if it is hot or humid outside. Under these conditions, your body needs more than just simple hydration. Your muscles store carbohydrates, known as glycogen, which are depleted during extended periods of exercise. The sugars in sports drinks help to restore those reserves. As you sweat, you’ll also lose sodium and other electrolytes, which are also typically found in sports drinks. The longer you exercise, the more important it becomes to replenish your body’s stores of glycogen and electrolytes.
Protein shakes are often recommended as post-workout drinks, as protein promotes muscle growth and healing. When you exercise for a prolonged period, drinking a protein shake during a break could help repair the damage done as you put strain on your muscles. If you find that it bothers your stomach to drink something that heavy during a workout, just save it for afterwards.
Keeping up with your body’s hydration needs can help to improve your workout performance. Knowing what to drink during a workout means you can plan ahead to keep yourself appropriately hydrated at all times.