Should You Drink Water During a Workout
What Is Drinking Water During Exercise Good For?
Drinking water before and during exercise helps us to maintain hydration levels. It is one of the best ways to prevent dehydration and maintain proper electrolyte balance. If we don’t drink enough fluids during our workouts, it could lead to muscle cramps, fatigue, headache, nausea and other symptoms. There are many benefits of drinking water while exercising:
It keeps your muscles from getting tired faster.
It prevents cramping.
You can drink more water than usual during your workout.
If you have diarrhea, drinking some water will make it go away quicker.
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Water is one of the most important things when it comes to maintaining proper hydration levels. When we exercise, our bodies need to replace lost fluids with water. Drinking too little water can cause problems such as headaches, dizziness, nausea and even death!
How Much Water Do I Need To Drink While Exercising?
The amount of fluid you drink depends on several factors including your age, activity level and gender. Those who are very active or exercise in hot weather should drink more than others. In addition, if you weigh over 125 pounds (57kg), are pregnant or an adolescent you need to increase your water intake accordingly.
If you’re wondering how much water should I drink when I work out, the general rule is to drink six to eight glasses of water a day. The Institute of Medicine determined this amount of water would replace the fluids lost through normal body processes and keep our bodies functioning properly.
For instance, if you weigh 150 pounds (68kg), lightly exercise and don’t live in a hot climate, the general rule would be for you to drink six ounces of water each day. As an example of this, you would need to drink three tall glasses of eight ounce glasses of water. While some health professionals believe this is the minimum amount of water you should consume each day, most would agree this isn’t enough for those who exercise.
A better guideline is to increase your fluid intake level based on your weight and the intensity of your exercise. If you weigh more than 150 pounds (68kg), lightly exercise and don’t live in a hot climate, you should drink one ounce of water for every 2.2 pounds (1kg) of body weight. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds (90kg), you would drink at least two large glasses (16 ounces or 450ml) of water a day.
Athletes or those who exercise in hot or humid conditions need to increase their water intake even more. To determine how much you should drink, weigh yourself without clothes and shoes first thing in the morning. Then look at the chart below to see how much water you should drink daily.
Weight in Pounds
(Or kilograms if you’re not in U.S. weight system)
Drink This Much Water Per Day (Although this may vary depending on whether you exercise or not)
120 or less : Drink 2.4 liters (3.2 quarts)
120 – 150 (68.4 – 68.9kg): Drink 1.5 liters (2 quarts)
150 – 180 (68.9 – 80.7kg): Drink 1 liter (1.1 quarts)
180 – 200 (80.7 – 90.7kg): Drink 0.6 liters (0.8 quarts)
200 – 260 (90.7 – 111.1kg): Drink 0.4 liters (0.5 quarts)
Over 260: Drink 0.3 liters (0.4 quarts)
The above are just general guidelines when it comes to how much water you should drink in a day. As a rule of thumb, drink whenever you’re thirsty and don’t force yourself to drink if you’re not thirsty.
But what about drinking sports drinks while working out?
First of all, you should be getting plenty of electrolytes from your food and water shouldn’t be a problem especially if you use the guidelines above. But if you’re an athlete who is very active for an extended period of time, you may need to drink a sports drink.
These drinks contain electrolytes and carbohydrates, and while water is still the best choice for quenching your thirst, some find these drinks more palatable during long or intense exercise sessions. A good example of one of these drinks is Gatorade which also has the added benefit of replacing some minerals lost through perspiration.
Remember that these drinks shouldn’t replace water, but rather be used in addition to water. Using a sports drink can prevent serious problems such as hyponatremia (water intoxication) which can occur when you don’t drink enough water during an extended workout. Water intoxication can lead to disorientation, brain swelling and even death so make sure you replenish your fluids with both water and a sports drink.
When beginning an exercise routine, one of the things that might deter you, is the amount of water you have to take in.
You might be asking yourself, how much water do I need to drink?
The amount of water you need depends on a number of factors such as your weight (the heavier you are, the more water you will need), the temperature and type of work out that you’re doing.
Just like with food, our bodies can tell us when we need more water. If your wee comes out light yellow or almost clear, then you need to drink more water. Also if you are thirsty, this might also be a sign that your body is dehydrating. So in general, if you’re working out heavily then make sure to drink plenty of water before, during and after.
One of the most important things about hydration is to replenish electrolytes. These little minerals are what control our muscles and nerves. Too much or too little of them can cause problems such as fatigue, muscular cramps and even cardiac arrest, so it’s very important to maintain the proper levels of electrolytes in your body.
Of course there are electrolyte replacement drinks such Gatorade which we’ve already mentioned which you can drink but if you’re drinking enough water, then your body should be retaining the right amount of electrolytes.
There are also electrolyte tablets which you can add to drinks if you don’t like the flavor of these drinks or want to save money by making your own performance drink. These can be purchased at a local drug or grocery store, but read the labels because some of the cheaper ones use sugar which might not be what you’re looking for.
Also another thing to remember is that while water helps prevent dehydration, drinking too much of it can actually cause water intoxication or dilute essential electrolytes in your body, so don’t overdo the water drinking.
The bottom line is, you need to drink water before, during and after your workouts to prevent dehydration and maintain electrolyte balance in your body. Remember also to check the weather because being outdoors you could be exposed to hot and/or cold temperatures which will also affect how much water your body needs.
It’s a numbers game so keep yourself well hydrated and you’ll see the benefits in your performance.
As a part of your fitness journey, you will need to take in extra calories in the form of food. Just like with hydration, it isn’t all about eating as much as you can. There is a right and wrong way to do it.
For one, make sure you are eating enough food to replace the calories that you are burning. Don’t go overboard and eat too much because then you’ll gain weight which you don’t want either!
Second of all, make sure you are eating the right types of food. Many people think that they can get away with just eating junk or fast food since they do contain lots of calories. While this is true, your body also needs a lot of nutrients to help it recover after the hard work that you’re putting it through.
Try to eat foods that are rich in protein and carbohydrates. Each of these nutrients do different things for your body; carbs give you energy for your workouts while protein helps your muscles repair themselves, making them grow bigger and stronger.
Fats are also very important but don’t go overboard with these. Fats are easy to digest but they can easily be stored as fat if you’re eating too much of them, so just make sure you don’t eat more than what the body requires.
As for what specific foods to eat, this is a difficult question to answer because everyone has different tastes so it really depends on what you like.
For carbs, anything bread or grain based is a good start. Pasta, brown rice, oatmeal and even potatoes are good choices. Some fruits and vegetables also have carbs so these are good too.
Protein can be a little harder to come by but some high protein foods include: meats (chicken, beef, pork), fish, eggs, and milk products (yogurt, cottage cheese).
As for fats, don’t overdo it on these. Nuts are a great source of healthy fats, as is peanut butter.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Drink up!: the science of hydration (B Stover, B Murray – ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, 2007 – journals.lww.com)
- Ask The Science Chick: Should I Drink BCAAs During My Workout? (HB Work – bodybuilding.com)
- Bone mineral content of amenorrheic and eumenorrheic athletes (BL Drinkwater, K Nilson, CH Chesnut III… – … England Journal of …, 1984 – Mass Medical Soc)
- Creatine, carbs, and fluids: how important in soccer nutrition (DT Kirkendall – Sports Sci Exch, 2004 – academia.edu)
- How Water Works (S Freeman – HowStuffWorks. com, 2007 – academia.edu)
- Hyponatremia: the other side of the hydration story: should you drink as much as you can tolerate when exercising? Or is this time-honored advice all wet? (N Digate – IDEA Fitness Journal, 2005 – go.gale.com)
- Hyponatremia in athletes (B Murray, J Stofan, ER Eichner – Sports Science, 2003 – johnlemieuxlaw.com)
- Special features of consumption of water and drinks by Kazakhstan athletes (Y Yerzhanova, Z Sabyrbek, Z Kalmatayeva… – Sport …, 2018 – sportmont.ucg.ac.me)