Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: May 12, 2021

If you’re looking to stay healthy, your fitness should always be a priority.

What most people forget is that staying hydrated is just as important. Without enough water, you won’t function at your highest potential and may even find it difficult to focus.

Drink too much water, however, and it can come with some nasty side effects. That’s why we’ve spent hours delving into the research and science behind water to help you discover just how much you really need.

Why Is Drinking Water Important While Working Out?

A woman wearing a red shirt drinking water

During a workout, your body temperature tends to rise, which causes you to sweat. This results in a loss of bodily fluids containing important nutrients and minerals.

If too much water is lost due to sweat, it can lead to dehydration.

To keep yourself hydrated and healthy, the best way is to drink throughout the day.
So, yes, that includes while working out.

The American Council on Exercise recommends athletes to drink before, during, and after a workout, consisting of:

Before: 17 to 20 ounces of water as a warm-up, taken 2 to 3 hours before the workout.
Pre-workout: Another 8 ounces, taken 20 to 30 minutes immediately before workouts.
During: 7 to 10 ounces, every 10 to 20 minutes during the middle of an exercise.
After: 8 ounces, within 30 minutes post-workout.

Drinking water also has many benefits on exercise performance. According to research,

“voluntary drinking resulted in improved exercise performance and no significant difference in cognitive performance… in situations where dehydration is likely, [athletes may need to drink] to recommended guidelines to protect [their bodies] from dehydration and its negative effects. However, when dehydration is not likely, allowing an individual to follow voluntary drinking behavior is preferable for exercise performance. [1]”

How Does Water Affect the Body?

a bottle of water being poured in a glass

The body mainly uses water as a lubricant and transportation system for flushing out toxins.

With 60% of the human body being made up of water, it is an essential fluid that the body requires to stay operational [2].

Water helps the many various systems in the body by circulating through them.

Some of its uses include lubricating joints and muscle tissue, regulating blood pressure, maintaining kidney health, and even assisting with weight loss.

However, drinking an excessive amount can also cause bad health conditions. The higher your fluid intake, the harder your kidneys need to work to expel waste products.

If too much water is taken before a workout, it can actually hinder your efforts, as your body will need to use extra energy for fluid regulation.

Hyponatremia

Hyponatremia is a condition where excess water intake dilutes sodium levels to a dangerous level. This creates swelling in cells and fatty tissue, which lowers your blood pressure and forces your heart and kidneys to work extra hard.

In extreme cases, this can lead to cardiac arrest, kidney failure, and even death.

What Are the Effects of Dehydration?

A woman about to drink a water close up image

The most common indicator of dehydration is that you feel thirsty. Other side effects include headaches, tiredness, confusion, dizziness, muscle cramps, and a lack of fluid expulsion, such as saliva production, urine, or sweat.

Severe dehydration occurs when large amounts of bodily fluids are expelled and not replenished in time. Common causes behind that include diarrhea, vomiting, and diabetes.

To prevent dehydration, ensure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day, opting for electrolyte-rich drinks when needed.

FAQs

What is best to drink during a workout?

The best beverages to drink during a workout are those filled with electrolytes.

The greater your sweat rate, the more nutrients, minerals, and water are lost. Sports drinks that contain electrolytes can help with hydration by replenishing nutrient levels.

How many ounces of water does an athlete require?

The amount of water an athlete requires depends on the intensity of the workout and their total body weight.

For low to moderate training in intensity, an athlete should consume half their weight in ounces of water. This amount should be doubled for high-intensity activity.

Is cold or warm water better during a workout?

Studies show that individuals who drink cold water have a slower rise in body temperature compared to lukewarm water [3].

It results in a slower sweat rate and allows individuals to exercise longer without feeling fatigue as quickly.

What should I add to water for additional benefits?

You can add salt and lime to a glass of water for additional benefits.

Charles Poliquin, a Canadian strength coach who has coached over 22 Olympic gold medalists, recommends drinking this concoction when you first wake up. [4]

Doing so has many benefits for your digestive system, adrenal functions, and detoxification pathways.

Stay Hydrated To Get The Most Out of Your Workout

Eight to ten glasses a day keeps the doctor away.

When it comes to working out, drinking plenty of water is of vital importance to keep yourself feeling hydrated and balanced.

By taking in water before, during, and after your fitness workout, you’ll ensure you’re fully hydrated when it comes time to sweat and prevent possible complications.

However, don’t take this article as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult with your doctor to make sure you’re getting enough liquids.

Let us know your favorite method for hydration and what’s in your water bottle.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4993146/
  2. https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/water-you-water-and-human-body
  3. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/is-it-better-to-drink-cold-water-while-exercising
  4. https://medium.com/@StrengthSensei/drink-this-beverage-immediately-after-you-wake-for-extreme-health-benefits-e9e5b2766cdf

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