From dance classes to bootcamp workouts to a solo swim—most people realize that it’s important to fuel yourself before and after any workout. But consuming nutrients during a workout is important, too. Ready to optimize your workout consumption? Here’s what to eat and what to drink while working out.
We know, you know. It’s common knowledge that water makes up a majority of the human body; more specifically, water accounts for roughly 55-60 percent of your weight. It’s literally the most essential nutrient for survival, and it plays a role in practically every physiological process to keep us thriving. Water is vital for life, and whether you realize it or not, water is vital for your workouts too.
In fact, research has shown that fluid losses of just 0.5 – 1.0 percent of total body weight can negatively affect cardiovascular function and endurance, which leads to greater feelings of fatigue. The kicker? This happens before you even realize you’re thirsty. In other words, you can lose enough water to affect exercise performance before your body (or mind) even realizes it.
Making matters worse, being even slightly dehydrated can inhibit cognition, making it difficult to focus on the task at hand. This carries over into mental tasks like critical thinking as well as performance-based tasks that require hand-eye coordination. Yep—surprise, surprise—your good friend water is the mysterious answer of what to drink while working out.
…But don’t forget your electrolytes.
Potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium, are critical in optimizing cellular function, contracting muscles, dictating water/fluid balance throughout the body, and participating in many other functions of metabolism.
Similar to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance can also disrupt cellular functioning and cause fatigue and cramping, both of which may hinder exercise performance.
Watch the carbs (if you’re not doing a long workout).
Watch any professional sports game and you’ll see athletes are almost always rehydrating with Technicolor sports drinks, and it makes a strong case for intra-workout hydration. But sports drinks typically contain a boatload of carbs (usually in the form of sugar) – is all that really necessary?
For most of us, it’s not. If your stomach has some food in it, and you’re working out for less than an hour, you should be fine without any added carbs. You don’t want food in your stomach. You do, however, want glucose and glycogen in your system.
Marathoners, long-distance runners, or endurance athletes in general are likely the only folks that need to continually replenish their bodies with carbohydrates. More specifically, those performing prolonged exercise (e.g., anything over 1 hour long in duration) will need those added carbohydrates. This is why you’ll see marathon runners shooting energy gels during their race. (Sadly, no, bootcamp workouts aren’t the same as marathons.)
So, what should you do to maximize your hydration?
Generally speaking, when it comes to what to drink while working out, recommendations for water/electrolyte consumption tend to be all over the map, and the reason for this is simple: there are a lot of factors at play that dictate water/fluid balance — your age, climate, body type, and gender, among others. Because of this, it’s best to find a middle ground.
The simple solution (pun intended) is to drink something with all three nutrients, so Beachbody Hydrate works for those seeking convenience. If that’s not up your alley, drink around 8 ounces of water per half hour of exercise and strive to consume a wide variety of electrolytes during the day from whole food sources like fruits and veggies.