< Blog < Stay Fit < Fitness Basics < Drinking Water During Workout is Crucial for Your Performance: Here is Why

Drinking Water During Workout is Crucial for Your Performance: Here is Why

7 min read
a man is drinking water while during workout, wearing headphones and a towel on his neck
David J. Sautter post Reviewer David J. Sautter post Reviewer
Verified by David J. Sautter
NASM Personal Trainer, NASM Fitness Nutrition Specialist, ACE Sports Conditioning Specialist, NASM Performance Enhancement Specialist

Dive into this article to understand the essential role of drinking water during a workout.

Table of Contents

Water makes up around 60% of our body, so staying hydrated is essential for maintaining good health. But it’s also important if you want to achieve your fitness goals.

In this article, we’ll explore the significance of drinking water during your workout. 

We aim to shed light on why it’s a fundamental component of fitness and provide guidance on the appropriate amount to consume to ensure both peak performance and overall health.

Hydration & Physical Activity

Many people refrain from drinking while working out due to the fear of feeling bloated or negatively affecting their fitness performance.

You’re in the right place if you’ve ever wondered, “Should I drink water during my workout?”

Unlike what many people think, drinking water while working out is essential to support athletic performance and prevent dehydration and its possible side effects, especially if the workout is long or strenuous.

Most people know that water is involved in our body’s thermoregulation to prevent it from overheating, but it also supports the following:

  • Muscle contraction
  • Removal of toxins and other waste material from our system
  • Delivery and absorption of oxygen and nutrients to the muscle tissues
  • Lubrication of the joints 
  • Blood flow for better circulation. [1] [2] [3] [4]

How Dehydration Affects Your Performance

As already mentioned, being dehydrated can also significantly affect your fitness performance. 

If you don’t drink enough water and don’t sustain favorable levels of hydration when training, you might experience simple or serious side effects. For example, you may get dry lips and a dry mouth, but in the worst cases, your focus may decrease, and you might feel fatigued and lightheaded. 

Feeling tired, lightheaded, or lacking concentration can seriously affect your health, leading to fainting or injuries.  

So, Is Drinking Water During a Workout Good Or Bad?

Drinking water while working out is definitely good as it allows you to sustain your body to perform all its functions effectively, such as the delivery of nutrients to the different tissues and organs.

This means drinking water during a workout is a good habit as it helps you sustain your health and athletic performance. 

How Much Water Should You Drink During Workout?

Hydration requirements increase if you practice regular physical activity, as you need more fluids to sustain physical performance and prevent injuries. 

Below, you’ll find the general hydration recommendations for physical activity as per the American Council on Exercise guidelines. [5]

  • You should drink 17-20 ounces (appx. 500ml) of water before your workout to ensure you are well hydrated, support your performance, and allow proper delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. 
  • You should also be drinking water during workouts to replenish the fluids lost through sweating and prevent feeling dizzy and lightheaded. Aim to drink 7-10 ounces (appx. 250ml) of water during your workout, especially if fairly long and intense or if you are training in a hot environment. 
  • Finally, drinking water after a workout is really important to replenish the fluids lost during physical activity. To rehydrate yourself, drink between 16 to 24 ounces of water or fluids for each pound of body weight lost during the workout. 

You would need to know your initial weight first, then reassess it after your exercise session to find out the amount of fluid lost and calculate your hydration needs. You can make the calculations once for each type of workout you do.

Factors Influencing Water Intake

The amount of water one should drink during a workout depends on a wide range of factors, including the length and intensity of the workout, the environmental conditions, individual sweat rate, as well as the age and gender of the person. 

General Guidelines for Hydration

As a general note, the guidelines suggest drinking between six to eight cups of water a day to stay hydrated, although individual requirements vary based on the factors mentioned in the previous section. [6]

Signs You’re Not Drinking Enough Water

Being able to recognize the signs of dehydration can help you regulate and adjust your water intake during a workout to maintain adequate hydration levels.

Below, you can find the main signs of dehydration: 

  • Dry lips, eyes, and mouth
  • Extreme thirst
  • Headache and migraines
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Lack of focus
  • Dark urine with a pungent odor [1] [7]

What To Drink During A Workout

After discussing the benefits of keeping hydrated during your workout, you may now wonder, “What exactly should I drink during my workout?”

Drinking fluids is essential to stay hydrated. However, not all drinks hydrate the same. 

In fact, in some cases, drinks can even dehydrate you, as it happens with alcohol or high caffeine intake. [8]

You should opt for water-based drinks that provide minerals and electrolytes so as to fully rehydrate yourself and replenish the salts lost through sweating. [9]

Here’s what to drink during your workout to stay hydrated and what not to drink while working out if you want to prevent affecting your performance or hurting yourself. 

a list of drinks that are best and worst to drink during a workout, drinking water during a workout

Drink this:

  • Plain water
  • Water with electrolytes 
  • Water with added amino acids (either sold as a ready-to-drink solution or as powders/tablets to add to your drink)
  • Sports drinks
  • Coconut water

Don’t drink this:

  • Carbonated drinks, including water
  • Energy drinks
  • Sugary drinks
  • Alcohol 

Is It Better To Drink Water During A Workout Or After?

It’s essential to drink water both during and after a workout, meaning that there is no one best time to hydrate yourself. 

During exercise, you should sip water to maintain good hydration levels and replace fluids lost through sweat, while after the workout, you should carry on hydrating to aid in recovery and replenish the fluids lost.

Here are some guidelines on how to distribute water intake during and after your workout to keep well-hydrated.  

  • During exercise, drink small sips of water every 15 to 20 minutes, especially in longer workouts or when you’re sweating a lot. Drinking small, regular amounts of water also prevents you from feeling bloated and uncomfortable during your workout. 
  • After exercise, carry on drinking water regularly based on the amount of weight lost during your workout to replace any remaining fluid deficit. Aim to rehydrate gradually over the next few hours to keep hydrated throughout the rest of the day. 

You can also modulate water and fluid intake based on your current hydration levels, which can be easily assessed by checking your urine. Here is how you can assess hydration levels from your urine:

  • Color: Light, pale yellow urine usually indicates good hydration. Dark yellow or amber urine suggests dehydration. If your urine is dark, you should start drinking water immediately to rehydrate. 
  • Odor: Normally, urine should not have a strong smell. A strong, concentrated odor, especially if combined with a dark color, can indicate dehydration.

Remember, individual hydration needs can vary, so listen to your body and adjust water intake accordingly to stay properly hydrated during and after your workouts.

Bottom Line

Drinking water is essential to sustain many physiological processes, especially if you are physically active. Here are the key points about hydration and water intake during exercise:

  • Drinking water during your workout is safe and is actually needed to prevent dehydration and its side effects, such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and dry lips, eyes, and mouth.
  • Water is involved in many biological processes, such as thermoregulation, toxins removal, muscle contraction, joint lubrication and delivery and absorption of oxygen and nutrients.   
  • You should drink before, during, and after your workout to maintain good hydration levels, sustain fitness performance, and prevent injuries.
  • During your workout, aim to have water-based drinks enriched with salts and electrolytes to further aid hydration, and try to avoid drinks that might dehydrate you or affect your health.
  • You should hydrate yourself during your workout through small, regular sips of water, so as to also avoid feeling bloated and uncomfortable while training.
  • Checking your urine color and odor is a quick and effective way to assess your hydration status throughout the day and modulate fluid intake accordingly.
Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

We recommend reading