Good Measure Meals Healthy ConnectionsHydration + Exercise: Water or Sports Drinks? - Good Measure Meals Healthy Connections

Hydration + Exercise: Water or Sports Drinks?

What color is your urine?

I’m asking this rather odd question because urine is a good indicator of current hydration status. I could also phrase the question, ‘are you hydrated’ but that’s not as fun. (More on urine soon, get excited.)

Staying hydrated is essential to healthy living and especially healthy fitness. Our brain, kidneys, skin, and heart are made up in part by water and if we don’t properly hydrate, one or more of these organ systems may not function as it should. Water also helps maintain proper body temperature through sweat which is why water loss occurs during exercise. How do you know if you’re hydrated? Check your urine, it should be a light lemonade color.

urine color chart

 The American College of Sports Medicine recommends the following guidelines.

Hydration before exercise:

  • Drink 16-20 fluid ounces (one bottle) of fluid 4 hours before exercise.
  • Drink 8-12 fluid ounces (a little over half a bottle) of fluid 15min before exercise

Hydration during exercise:

  • Drink 3-8 fluid ounces (up to half a bottle) of fluid every 15-20 minutes of exercise when exercising less than 60 minutes total

Hydration post exercise:

  • Aim to correct fluid loss within 2 hours of exercise. If you don’t want to check your urine as an indicator, weigh yourself before and after exercise.
  • Drink 20-24 fluid ounces (one bottle) of fluid for every pound lost


Water vs. sports drink:

If you’re exercising less than one hour, stick with water. For longer, more intense activities a sports drink with about 4-8% carbohydrate may help delay fatigue. If you are a salty sweat-er, consume some salt in your pre-workout meal to ensure fluid retention.


Today’s post is contributed by guest blogger Callie O’Steen MPH, RDN, LD, CHES

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