What Should You Drink During Exercise?


Staying hydrated seems a simple enough concept.

Just drink around three litres of water per day and your body should have enough fluid to be able to do everything it needs to.

That does sound about right.

But there are a few other things to think about when deciding how much fluid and what type should be taken on.

Fail to stay hydrated and your ability to stay focused and exercise will quickly diminish.

And in extreme cases dehydration can land you in hospital.


Heat & Intensity

Temperature is one important factor, and the demands placed on the body is another.

While water is usually all that's needed, when it's extremely hot, or long or intense bursts of physical activity are taking place, it may benefit to rethink what we use to quench our thirst.

The main reason is that during these conditions the body loses more than just water as it battles to maintain a normal body temperature of 37 degrees.


Losing More Than Just Water

Sweating is the body's way of cooling down and dispersing heat, but sweat is made up of more than just H20.

Electrolytes are minerals in the blood and other bodily fluids that affect the amount of water in our bodies, the acidity of our blood and how our muscles function.

We lose electrolytes when we sweat, and if we sweat too much without replacing the lost fluid and electrolytes we can become dehydrated.


Sports Drinks

Sports drinks are designed to simultaneously replace fluids and electrolytes, and provide fast-digesting carbohydrates to replenish energy stores.

There are three main types:


  • Hypotonic drinks contain 2-4g carbohydrates per 100ml and a small amount of the electrolyte sodium. These suit those needing fluid without excessive carbohydrate intake.
  • Isotonic sports drinks are usually made up of 6-8g of carbohydrates and 50-60mg of sodium per 100ml. These tick most boxes for most athletes performing for over 60 minutes duration.
  • Hypertonic drinks contain even more carbohydrates and gear towards refuelling post-exercise or in conjunction with other hydrating drinks during very long or intense activity.



Low-intensity activities such as walking, and moderate exercise lasting under an hour, usually require only water. That means for most gym goers, water is all you need.

Replace sweat lost in more demanding or longer sessions with an isotonic drink and take on 500ml of water an hour before any exercise session.


Bathroom Test

There is a quick way to find out if you're hydrated or not:


  • As a general rule, pale yellow or straw coloured urine indicates good hydration.
  • Dark yellow, or orange, shows you are in need of a good drink.



 About the author: Ronny Terry is a personal trainer at Kiss Gyms Swindon. You can view his profile HERE