Drinking water during your workout can help avoid muscle cramps, heat stress, risk of injuries, and reduced stamina.
It is good to drink water during a workout. Water is continuously used by our body during various metabolic processes including the elimination of wastes through urine and sweat. Sweating is even more profuse during physical activity or workouts. Besides water, we tend to lose salts through sweat.
Hence, it is crucial to drink enough water during workouts because it helps avoid the following:
Drinking sufficient water, with electrolytes or salts, if necessary, helps improve your exercise performance and maintain normal body temperature.
Studies report that a mere two percent decline in body weight due to fluid loss can lower your stamina by 25 percent. The fluid loss puts pressure on your heart to pump harder to meet the increased oxygen and nutrient requirements during exercise. Therefore, it is crucial to keep yourself hydrated during a workout so that you give your best performance while minimizing the risk of any injury.
How much water should you drink during a workout?
Although staying hydrated is important, avoiding overhydration or underhydration is essential during workouts.
Athletes or people engaged in high-intensity workouts are advised to have about 5 to 7 mL per kilogram of body mass approximately four hours before an event. They must keep sipping some water during the athletic event. Drinking a lot of water at once may cause bloating and stomach cramps and hamper exercise capacity.
The exact amount of water required may vary greatly depending on:
- Your general health and body type
- The type of workout including its intensity and duration
- Weather conditions in which you are performing
As a general rule, the American Council on Exercise suggests that you:
- Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water two to three hours before you start your workout.
- Drink eight ounces of water 20 to 30 minutes before you start your workout or while you perform your warm-ups.
- Drink 7 to 10 ounces of water every 10 to 20 minutes during the workout.
- Drink eight ounces of water no more than 30 minutes after you finish your workout.
To know whether you consumed the right amount of fluids (not in excess or lesser amount), weigh yourself before and after the workout or athletic event to estimate the amount of fluid loss.
- If your weight declines after the workout, compensate for that by drinking about 16 to 24 ounces of water for every pound lost.
- If you find that your weight increased after the workout, it means that you are overhydrated (consumed more fluids than required). Overhydration can be harmful because it can lead to electrolyte imbalances.
What are the signs of dehydration during a workout?
It is important to recognize any signs of dehydration and treat them promptly.
Some of the symptoms of dehydration may include:
Is cold or warm water better during a workout?
Chilled or cold water is preferable during workouts. If you can’t drink chilled water, you can drink fluids or water at room temperature. Sipping chilled fluids helps lower your core body temperature, which improves your exercise performance. Chilled water is absorbed faster from your gut, thus facilitating the faster restoration of your fluid levels.
Which drinks should you have during a workout?
For most people, water is enough to maintain hydration during a workout.
Intense and prolonged workouts, however, may lead to a significant loss of electrolytes (such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium) and depletion of energy stores. If you are performing high-intensity workouts for over an hour, you may take sports drinks instead of just water. They provide several nutrients including electrolytes and glucose to help improve your performance. These are available in supermarkets.
Be cautious while choosing your sports drinks and exercise portion control.
- A single bottle may contain more than one serving, and thus, drinking it all in one go may be harmful.
- Look for the sugar, caffeine, and salt content on the bottle. Although excess sugar and salt can harm you with extra calories and sodium, respectively, caffeine can make you pee more (diuresis), which may affect your exercise performance and increase your risk of fluid loss.
You can prepare an electrolyte drink easily at home. All you need is sugar, table salt, and water. Add six tablespoons of sugar and one-third teaspoon of salt to each quart of water. Dissolve the sugar and salt by stirring, and once dissolved, you can cool it and drink it chilled.
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Medically Reviewed on 4/27/2022