Fitness, health and hydration go hand in hand. Your body needs adequate fluids to sustain your workouts, maintain muscular contractions, transport nutrients to your cells and help remove toxins. Your body requires healthy hydration before, during and after your exercise session. Although you can boost your hydration with foods such as fruits and vegetables, your drinks are the easiest way to rehydrate your system. Some healthy drinks are better than others and certain drinks should be avoided.
Good, old-fashioned, plain water is the healthiest way to hydrate your body. Water helps to regulate your body temperature and a lack of water may disrupt your workout performance. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends water for your go-to beverage as it does not contain extra calories and it is always easy to find. If you are tired of drinking plain water, or have a difficult time drinking only water, try one of these options to appeal to your tastebuds:
- Freeze berries in an ice cube tray with a little water and use the fruit cubes in your drink
- Add sliced lemon, orange or lime to your water
- Add crushed mint to your water
- Flavor your water with cucumbers, berries or ginger
- Make your own sparkling juice with less calories by adding a splash or two of juice to sparkling water
Your water can also be ingested in the form of coffee or tea. Moderate amounts of caffeine are not shown to interfere with your exercise performance and as long as you are not adding sugar to the drink which adds extra calories.
Sports drinks contain additional electrolytes, minerals and carbohydrates to help replenish and hydrate your body, but are typically only needed if you exercise at a high intensity for longer than an hour at a time. Another reason to select a sports drink is if you excessively sweat which can result in a loss of sodium. One way to tell if you are losing sodium is the appearance of salt rings or salt stains on your clothes. If this is the case, a sports drink is a healthy beverage option for you. For a non-exerciser, a sports drink contains unnecessary sugar and calories and should not be a daily beverage choice.
Unless you have a dairy-free diet, chocolate milk is a healthy choice and a beneficial workout recovery drink. Milk has an adequate combination of protein and carbohydrates to stimulate muscle repair and can often shorten your recovery time. For an added carbohydrate boost, add a banana to the mix to create a release of insulin and ultimately a boost in sugar transportation into the cells.
Drinks to Limit
While on your quest to consume healthy drinks, limit or refrain from drinking sugary drinks such as pop and fruit juice. Energy drinks are another beverage to monitor as the caffeine and sugar can have adverse health effects.