Sports drinks vs. water: Proper hydration is key when you’re exercising. However, which should you choose, water or a sports drink?
The Institute of Medicine encourages proper fluid replacement for optimal performance, safety, and comfort during exercise. Simply put, that means–stay hydrated while you’re working out! But how do you know if you are? Simply put, losing or gaining weight during exercise is a sign you’re either over or under hydrating. For proper hydration, monitor your weight before and after exercise.
If you’ve lost weight, you may not be drinking enough to keep your body hydrated. It is important to monitor your urine amount and color. If you’re urinating frequently during exercise, or the color is dark, you could be getting dehydrated.
Water and Hydration
Water will hydrate with no sugar or calories and quench your thirst. But it lacks taste, so you may be tempted to stop drinking before you’re adequately hydrated.
Water has no sodium. With normal exercise, you won’t lose enough sodium or potassium to need replacement, but the lack of sodium in your water may make you urinate more frequently, increasing the possibility of dehydration.
Although rare, drinking too much water during exercise can cause water intoxication (hyponatremia).
Sports Drinks and Hydration
The sodium and potassium in sports drinks will more than replace what’s lost during exercise, plus they stimulate energy. Flavored sports drinks are designed to entice you to stay hydrated with the yummy taste. Flavored sports drinks don’t quench thirst, so you’re forced to keep drinking on purpose.
This choice is a personal one. As long as you are monitoring your hydration, either fluid source can work equally well for you.