Learn about the benefits of drinking water during a workout, and how much you should drink depending on your fitness level
Drinking water before, during, and after a workout is extremely important to maintain hydration and replace fluid loss that occurs through sweating.
Learn about the benefits of drinking water during exercise, and how much you should drink depending on your fitness level.
What are the benefits of drinking water during a workout?
Water is essential for your body, making up 60% of your total body weight and 75% of your muscle mass. Water protects your organs, regulates body temperature, and maintains electrolyte balance, ensuring that your body is functioning properly.
During a workout, staying hydrated is even more important because you are exerting more energy and losing fluids. When you are well hydrated, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood throughout your body, meaning nutrients and oxygen can be transported to your muscles as you are exercising. Adequate hydration also improves your stamina and prevents cramping.
How much water should the average adult drink during a workout?
In order to stay properly hydrated, studies recommend the following:
- Adult women: About 2.7 L of water per day
- Adult men: About 3.7 L per day
Experts also recommend drinking about an ounce of water per pound of body weight a day, although this depends on your activity levels as well as outside temperature.
Here are general guidelines for how much water to drink before, during, and after a workout:
- Before: Drink 16 ounces of water 2 hours before your workout and another 8-16 ounces just before a workout.
- During: Drink at least 4-6 ounces of liquids every 15-20 minutes during a vigorous workout. Drink slightly less if your workout is mild or moderate in intensity.
- After: Drink about 8 ounces of water after a workout.
How much water should athletes drink during a workout?
Guidelines for athletes for water and fluid intake according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE) are follows:
- 17-20 ounces of fluid 2-3 hours before exercise
- 8 ounces of fluid 20-30 minutes before exercise or during warm-up
- 7-0 ounces of fluid every 10-20 minutes during exercise
- 8 ounces of fluid within 30 minutes after exercise
- 16-24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost after exercise
Athletes require far more water than the average person:
- Female athletes: About 4 L per day
- Male athletes: About 5.7 L per day
Staying hydrated is critical for enhancing physical performance, especially during a sports event. The amount of water loss that occurs during training varies depending on the duration and intensity:
- Under 30 minutes: Rehydrate with water afterward
- Between 30-60 minutes: Rehydrate post-training with a drink containing both water and carbohydrates
- 1-3 hours or more: Sip a sports drink that contains water, sodium, and carbs regularly throughout (aim for 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour) and continue to drink post-training
What drinks beside water are good to have during a workout?
Water is the best fluid to rehydrate during a workout, but commercial sports drinks are also good options because they replenish your body with electrolytes.
- Hypotonic drinks: Contains about 4% of carbohydrates, which is smaller than the concentration in your blood plasma and therefore relatively easy to absorb and digest.
- Isotonic drinks: Contains 4%-8% of carbohydrates and some salts, which is equivalent to the content of blood plasma, making it a good option to rapidly replenish fluids during extended activity.
- Hypertonic drinks: Contains more than 8% of carbohydrates and is sometimes used to replenish glycogen reserves post-exercise. Since these drinks do not contain salts, they may be combined with isotonic liquids to replace salts.
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Medically Reviewed on 5/6/2022
Shaw G. Water Tips for Efficient Exercise. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/water-for-exercise-fitness
American Academy of Family Physicians. Hydration for Athletes. https://familydoctor.org/athletes-the-importance-of-good-hydration/
Flushing Hospital Medical Center. How Much Water Should You Drink During Exercise? https://www.flushinghospital.org/newsletter/how-much-water-should-you-drink-during-exercise/