You know how important it is to stay hydrated, especially because it can make or break your workout. Hydration keeps you healthy and gives you enough energy to get your sweat on at any point in your day. The average person should aim to drink as many ounces of water as half of his or her body weight in pounds. However, an avid exerciser should aim for even more fluid ounces per day. Thankfully, water isn’t your only option when it comes to energy-boosting beverages that will hydrate you enough to help you crush your workout. Here are the expert-approved workout drinks that’ll give you the gusto to finish off strong.
Unless you’re having it iced, this is probably not the best drink to sip on during your workout. However, fitness experts recommend that you enjoy this beverage before or after your sweat. In fact, it’s an excellent alternative to coffee. It has a lower dosage of caffeine, which is great for folks who get the jitters. “Green tea offers many of the same health benefits as coffee, but lowers [the] caffeine dose to 35 mg per cup,” says Rob Sulaver, C.S.C.S., founder of Bandana Training and founding trainer of Rumble Boxing. “Like coffee, start with one cup to assess your tolerance (30 minutes before exercise), and adjust from there.”
There’s a reason this type of supplement is a staple in the sports nutrition world. It’s convenient, quickly absorbed, and it works. “Protein is king when it comes to weight loss and muscle building. Whey is a simple way to guarantee [that] you’re meeting your protein requirements,” says Sulaver. “Smaller athletes should stick to one scoop post-workout, while larger athletes can handle two scoops post-workout.” You can mix it with water or, for more flavor, blended with almond milk, ice, and some added fruit, like blueberries.
If you’re low on electrolytes, you can pretty much expect that you won’t make it through your entire workout. Or at least not with the vigor necessary to yield results. For that reason, Denny Hemingson, sports nutritionist and certified personal trainer, recommends filling your electrolyte tank before and after your workout. “Since these minerals are lost in sweat it’s also beneficial to replace them when the workout is over,” he says. “You can purchase an electrolyte supplement or make your own. [Use] a pinch of sea salt and a pinch of ‘no-salt’ salt substitute (which is potassium chloride) in a glass of water.”
Branched-Chain Amino Acids
Branched-chain amino acids (also known as BCAAs), which include leucine, isoleucine, and valine, are important amino acids that our body is unable to create on its own. However, they make up 35 percent of all muscle tissue. This means that we must glean these essential nutrients from diet alone. “BCAAs are most effective if you’re following a calorie restricted diet, actively trying to lose weight, or are an athlete with a rigorous training schedule,” says Sulaver. “They help prevent muscle soreness and muscle catabolism. However, it’s worth noting that BCAAs alone aren’t enough to maximize muscle building and recovery.” With or without BCAAs, he recommends eating a diet loaded with protein to ensure that your body is getting enough. You can find them in liquid or capsule form at your local nutrition store.
It might sound strange, but research has found that sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda, can significantly reduce acid build up in the body. No one wants to deal with that during a workout. “Acidity builds up when we are exercising. It’s essential to utilize a performance supplement that can help reduce this,” says Hemingson. “About 15-30 grams of baking soda in a glass of water before a workout is all it takes to clear this build up.”
Too much of anything, salt included, is never a good idea. A little salt can actually do your body good, though, especially if you’re an avid exerciser. “For athletes following a ketogenic diet (or even those who aren’t) some research has found that taking keto salts, in the form of beta-hydroxybutyrate, pre-workout can increase ketone bodies. [These are] an alternate fuel source to glucose, for sustained energy production,” says Hemingson. “They essentially help the body enter ketosis faster and allow you to start using fat for fuel.”
This supplement gets a bad rap. However, it’s actually regarded as one of the safest and most effective ergogenic aids on the market. “Creatine is commonly known in the meathead community for its strength benefits. But newer research is revealing its cognitive benefits, as well,” says Sulaver. Simply put, creatine is affordable, safe, and effective. “Unless you’re a weight class athlete close to competition, or have something against being stronger and smarter, there’s no good reason that anybody shouldn’t be taking creatine.” He recommends just five grams post-workout.