Closeup side view of a late 20's woman doing some cardio workout on a treadmill. She's looking at the camera and smiling.There are three more people next to her, blurry.

Whether you grew up as an athlete or you’re simply trying your best to do cardio, you’ve probably heard arguments about the best way to hydrate before, during, and after exercising. Is water the way to go or should you opt for a sports drink?

The truth is, there are many factors to consider when deciding which will work best for you. We spoke with Jennifer Patzkowsky, a Publix Corporate Dietitian and registered dietitian nutritionist to find out the benefits of each. Take a look!

 

What’s up With Water?Maintaining good hydration also supports healthy weight loss

According to Jennifer, the recommendation for the Adequate Intake (AI) of water is 130 ounces,  or about 16 cups daily for men and 95 ounces , or about 12 cups, for women. It’s important to keep that in mind, especially because relying on feeling thirsty isn’t the best way to avoid dehydration. By that point, you could be dehydrated already!

Water by itself is great, but when exercising should you be looking for something with a little more? Well, the simple and yet not-so-simple answer is this: it depends. For short-duration (less than 60 minutes), or low- to moderate-intensity activity, water is a good choice to drink before, during, and after exercise.

What if you’re exercising harder, longer, and at a higher intensity? Working out more than 60 minutes or at a higher intensity can increase the need for more than water. That’s when  it may be time to look for a sports drink that contains carbohydrates and electrolytes.

 

Muscular athlete resting and drinking energy drinkSpelling out Sports Drinks

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, in terms of recovery from intense exercise lasting more than 60 minutes, it is recommended to use traditional sports drinks. Sports drink is the term used to describe drinks specially formulated to provide the right mix of carbohydrates, electrolytes and fluid. As Jennifer explained to us, through years of research sports drinks have been specifically formulated for athletes with the amount of electrolytes and carbohydrates at the levels needed to promote optimal hydration. Sports drinks contain 4-9 percent carbohydrate concentration (13-19 grams per 8-ounce serving), around 100 mg of sodium, and 30 mg of potassium. This formula has been shown to promote fluid absorption from the intestines and encourage fluid retention in order to prevent dehydration and prolong exercise.

 

How Much Should I Drink?

An easy question with, yet again, the same response — it depends on many factors. How much you sweat, how long you’re working out, and your opportunities to hydrate while you were exercising all affect the calculation. As a general rule, aim to sip 3-8 ounces every 15-20 minutes and listen to your body after you’ve completed your exercise to regain you hydration. Jennifer explains that the best way to tell if you are hydrated is to check your urine, including the color and quantity. If it’s dark, you need to drink more fluids ― aim for pale yellow. As always, make sure to speak with your doctor if you have questions about staying hydrated.

Both water and sports drinks have great benefits. The key is knowing when to use each to achieve optimal hydration. Don’t forget — you can get water from foods, too. Try munching on your favorite fruit or vegetable snack to help re-hydrate. If you still have questions about your hydration choices, check out our Health Topics and Dietitians for more information.

What are your hydrating drinks of choice? We’d love to hear your favorites!

Kandi S.

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Kandi S. wrote her first short story at nine-years-old and has been a lover of the written word ever since, which makes The Publix Checkout one of her favorite things about working for Publix! Starting as a cashier in 2005, Kandi has since incorporated her love for writing and social media with her passion for the company focused on customer service. She enjoys fitness, writing, live music and local food and beverages. Kandi hopes you walk away from our blog each day with a new-found appreciation for the grocery store where shopping is a pleasure.

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