Hydration Can Improve Exercise Performance

Hydration is key for those seeking an active lifestyle or optimal exercise performance. Not sure what to drink for hydration before, during, and after exercise? We have you covered in this simple guide to hydration timing.

chocolate and regular milk in glasses

Hydrate Before Exercise

The key is to start your exercise well-hydrated. The best way to do this is to sip on fluids all day. Water should be your primary fluid source; however, milk, seltzer water, smoothies, and tea can also be good choices. Research shows that milk is one of the best beverages for hydration, even outperforming water and sports drinks. This is because it has a combination of carbohydrates, protein, and electrolytes. It is best to drink milk 1-3 hours before activity to give your body time to digest all the nutrients.

Hydrate During Exercise

Stay hydrated during exercise to get the most out of your workout. Maintain hydration by sipping on water every 15 minutes. If you are exercising at moderate or high intensity for more than 1 hour, consider adding a sports drink with carbohydrates and electrolytes to replace what you lose in energy and sweat.

Refuel, Recover, and Rehydrate After Exercise

When rehydrating, focus on fluids, carbohydrates, protein, and electrolytes. A great way to get all these important nutrients in one drink is with chocolate milk. Research shows that drinking milk after exercise can improve recovery leading to better workouts in the future. Milk has a 3-to-1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio which helps to restore muscle glycogen and build new muscle. Within 2 hours of finishing your workout, you should drink 16-24 fluid ounces for every 1 lb lost during exercise.

Consider working with a sports dietitian to develop a hydration plan that fits your individual needs.

Ashley Delk Licata, PhD, RDN, LDN, CSSD is an Assistant Professor at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC. She is a sports dietitian who has worked with athletes of all levels, and her research focuses on the effects of nutrition timing on body composition in athletes. She is passionate about helping people apply evidence-based research to their everyday lives.

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