Hydration is important for athletic performance. This includes drinking the proper fluids before, during and after athletic and fitness activities. However, with so many options like water, sports drinks, chocolate milk and coconut water, it’s hard to know which beverage to choose. And with terms like “electrolytes” and “protein,” it can get confusing. I’ve put together a simple hydration guide that breaks down the most common nutrients found in sports beverages, and what to drink and when.

Sports Nutrition Terms

Carbohydrates, in the form of glycogen, are the muscles’ main fuel source during endurance events. Low glycogen stores can result in muscle fatigue and decreased performance. While you can get carbohydrates in some sports drinks to fuel activity, carbohydrates are also found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, milk and yogurt.

Electrolytes (potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium) are vital for working muscles. They are often seen in sports drinks since they’re lost through sweating. Load up on foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, green-leafy vegetables and dairy products between workouts and events.

Protein repairs muscles after events. Consume protein within 30-60 minutes after training or events to maximize muscle recovery. Protein sources from food include lean meats, beans, dairy, nuts and seeds.

Hydration Graphic

Hydration is vital, whether you participate in low or high intensity activities. Water is always a great option, but depending on your activity, choosing the appropriate drink will help you maintain your performance and health. For tips on how to recover from a workout with proper nutrition, click here.

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