Need to Hydrate? Which is Better: Water or Sports Drinks?

two bottles of powerade on a table
 
After working up a good sweat during your workout you’ll need to rehydrate, but which is better for you, sports drinks or water?
 
Sports drinks work by providing your body with electrolytes, carbohydrates, and calories. The electrolytes in sports drinks are usually sodium, chloride, or potassium, which ensure that the cells in your body are working properly. While working out, you will lose some electrolytes, so that is why you need to stay hydrated while exercising. During a normal workout, usually an hour or less, you only lose a few electrolytes. Electrolytes lost during moderate workout sessions can be replaced by drinking water and maintaining a healthy diet.
 
There are situations however, that warrant drinking a sports beverage. If you are working out vigorously such as running long distances or lifting a substantial amount of weight, you will lose many more electrolytes that water alone cannot replace. Working out in a hot environment, even moderately, also calls for a sports drink.
 
Most people don’t drink enough water in their daily lives, even though it is essential to protecting the body before, during, and after exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine’s guidelines recommend that people drink about 17 ounces of fluid two hours before exercising, to promote proper hydration.
 
If you are looking to lose weight, you also need to consider the fact that sports drinks contain calories and sugar. If you are not working out vigorously, you will not burn those extra calories! Drinking sports drinks when not working out, much like soft drinks or juices, will add up and work against your weight loss goals.
 
The key takeaway here is, unless you are training extensively or under high temperatures, stick to water to hydrate your body throughout your workouts!