How to stay hydrated before, during and after a workout
Ensuring we are adequately hydrated when exercising is essential – it is important to not rely on thirst alone to tell us how much to drink.
Drinking enough fluids keeps our muscles working well, helps to prevent fatigue, promotes recovery and replaces fluids lost through sweating.
Here are some general guidelines to follow:
• Drink at least 2 glasses of water in the 2-hour period before your workout.
• Always have water with you when exercising – frequent sipping is better than gulping it all down at once.
• Aim for around 1 glass (roughly 250ml) for every 30 minutes of exercise.
• Try and drink another glass of water in the hour following your workout.
• Although fairly difficult, it is possible to drink too much water – hyponatremia can occur when we take in more fluid than we are able to get rid of, causing blood sodium levels to become diluted and drop to dangerously low levels. One would usually have to drink excessive amounts of fluid in a short space of time for this to be an issue. Always listen to your body when exercising and don’t ignore signs such as dizziness and nausea.
• The sweat rate calculation can be a very accurate indicator of how much you need to drink following a strenuous workout:
i. Weigh yourself before exercise – ideally first thing in the morning and after going to the toilet
ii. Weigh yourself again after exercise – also after going to the toilet
iii. For every kilogram of body weight lost (which will be fluid loss), drink around 1-1.5litres of water.
Plain water is best for staying hydrated. Sports drinks and diluted fruit juice can be beneficial when taking part in endurance events. They will usually contain some carbohydrates as fuel as well as electrolytes to help replace those lost during longer more intense periods of exercise. As these types of drinks are sometimes costly, you could try making your own. Add around 200ml of fruit juice or squash (not sugar-free) to 800ml of water along with a generous pinch of sea salt.
If taste is an important factor in helping you drink enough, diluting fruit juices or sports drinks in water is fine – especially if it means you will be keeping yourself well-hydrated.
Although other factors can influence this, a good indicator of whether you are adequately hydrated is monitoring the colour of your urine. It should ideally be a pale yellow colour, not clear.
Staying hydrated when exercising is a very important - yet too often neglected - part of ensuring we feel well and perform our best during physical activity.
Disclaimer: The content of this page is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. References are available on request.