Maintaining appropriate hydration is vital for efficient exercises. Your body is constituted of around 60% water, which may be greatly lost during physical activities. Hydration promotes joint and tissue function, controls body temperature, and assists in nutrition transfer. Nonetheless, according to sports nutritionist Nancy Clark, RD, many people do not drink enough water.

So here's everything you need to know about choosing which beverage for your next exercise.

Choosing the Right Beverage

When it comes to post-workout drinks, going for simplicity generally provides the best benefits. "For the average person, water is perfectly adequate after a workout," Clark said.

Choosing the Right Beverage

For the average person, water is perfectly adequate after a workout," Clark said.

If your workout is more vigorous and lasts longer than three hours, Clark recommends chocolate milk. What sets chocolate milk apart? Clark points out that it contains valuable elements like sodium and calcium, which are essential minerals lost through sweat. Additionally, its carbohydrate content helps refuel your energy reserves, while the protein content aids in the repair and recovery of muscles.

Related: 8 Options of Plant-Based Milk Alternatives For You

If milk or water aren't your thing, sports drinks, coconut water, or other liquids can suffice. Electrolytes do not have to be a big problem; Clark points out that electrolytes may be replaced by meals.

How much should you drink?

There isn't a set amount of water that Clark claims one needs to drink when exercising. Or rather, she advises paying attention to your body's cues and "drinking to thirst."

How much should you drink

A good rule of thumb is to drink eight ounces of water every 15 minutes.

Calculating your sweat rate is an alternative for people looking for a more exact method. This entails weighing oneself before and after your run, then performing a few calculations. Clark suggests that if your sweat loss is one quart per hour, a good rule of thumb is to drink eight ounces of water every 15 minutes.

For those who prefer a less complicated technique, especially if you sweat a lot, a basic rule is to drink four to eight ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout.

Drink too much? Not a good idea 

Excessive fluid consumption is a possibility, although it is unusual. This danger is amplified during marathons and triathlons.

Drink too much

Drink too much? Not a good idea

Athletes who drink plenty of fluid (especially sports drinks) but don't get enough salt risk developing hyponatremia, a potentially fatal illness. Hyponatremia indicators include:

  • Vomiting or nausea 
  • Headache, disorientation, or exhaustion
  • Low blood pressure 
  • Low energy 
  • Muscle weakness, twitching, or cramping
  • Convulsions or coma
  • Anxiety or irritation

Over-hydration, on the other hand, is uncommon, as Clark emphasizes. Her observations underscore a more common trend: more people fail to consume adequate fluids during their workout routines. 

This underlines the importance of being mindful of hydration and sodium intake, striking a balance that optimally supports athletic performance and overall well-being. As with many aspects of health, moderation and listening to one's body remain vital principles.

Related: How Much Water Should You Drink Every Day?

Include Protein and Carbs in Your Routine

Exercise undeniably benefits your health, but it's not uncommon to experience slight cell or tissue damage post-workout. To aid in repair, incorporating proteins into your recovery routine is crucial. Clark suggests choosing a protein-rich beverage to help mend any exercise-induced damage, especially following an exceptionally vigorous workout.

Include Protein and Carbs in Your Routine

Incorporating proteins into your recovery routine is crucial

However, the focus isn't solely on protein. Considering the significant energy expenditure during exercise, Clark emphasizes the importance of maintaining a carbohydrate intake of approximately three times greater than that of protein. In this context, flavored milk emerges as a suitable fluid replacement option, providing the needed carbohydrates and a protein boost to support efficient recovery.

Risks of Dehydration To Aware 

Fatigue is one of several problems that can result from not drinking enough water. When you don't drink enough water, your blood might thicken owing to a lack of water, putting more strain on your heart and causing fatigue, as Clark points out. Moreover, dehydration adds to fatigue and a feeling of weariness in persons.

Risks of Dehydration To Aware

Dehydration is very dangerous

In essence, the importance of hydration extends beyond mere thirst quenching. It plays a pivotal role in maintaining the smooth functioning of vital bodily processes, including heart function and energy production. Prioritizing regular water intake not only helps prevent the development of fatigue but also contributes to overall vitality and performance.

Drink Before and During Exercise

Clark advises beginning fluid consumption before starting your workout regimen, particularly if it calls for tasks requiring sustained stamina.

"For activities like running a marathon, it's best to start hydrating one and a half to two hours before," Clark said.

Drink Before and During Exercise

Drinking fluids during a workout is a good idea

"We frequently underestimate our fluid needs while exercising, which can result in a deficit that must be corrected post-workout." "It's preferable to avoid this depletion entirely," Clark stressed. "It's better to avoid dehydration from the start."

Read Next: Best Drinks Keep Your Hydration

Although carrying water throughout your run may appear inconvenient, Clark emphasizes its importance. "While having water on hand during your run may appear cumbersome, the benefits outweigh the inconvenience," Clark says.

A Brief Recap

Physical activity offers numerous advantages to our bodies, yet dehydration often accompanies it as a potential drawback. Maintaining consistent hydration is of utmost importance, particularly during exercise.

Effectively restoring fluids is the cornerstone of thwarting dehydration. Insights into the optimal amount, timing, and types of drinks to include can significantly enhance your exercise experience and well-being.

References:  Nancy Clark, RD

August 09, 2023 — Four Leaf

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