Sports Nutrition Part 2: The Hydration Game Plan

Those who do more, need more.  As stated in Sports Nutrition Part 1, aggressive climate, lengthy duration, and heightened intensity during exercise cause greater amounts of sweat loss.  These are important factors to consider when planning to hydrate for physical activity.  This post is my “Hydration Game Plan” for before, during, and after exercise.  Before I lay out the hydration blueprint, let’s have a short Q & A session.

Sports drinks or water?  Contrary to popular belief, the drink of champions may just be water.  During exercise, athletes partaking in a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity are the only ones who need to replenish their *carbohydrate and electrolyte stores.  Therefore, children and adults do not need sugar-fueled sports drinks or juices if they are participating in less than 60 minutes of exercise.

What about endurance athletes?  If an athlete is vigorously exercising for 60 minutes, or moderately active for more than 90 minutes, sports drinks of 6-8% carbohydrates are crucial for the body to function optimally.

Can I drink too much water?  There is such a thing as drinking too much water.  The condition is called hyponatremia but may be more commonly recognized as waterlogged.  Too much water can leave a person feeling sluggish or disoriented.  People in this state should seek immediate medical attention.  Shoot for the guidelines in the chart below to ensure you are well, but not over hydrated.

What are electrolytes and do I need them?  Examples of electrolytes found in the body are sodium and potassium.  They help the body maintain a healthy fluid balance.  Refueling is not as important for the average gym goer because sodium and potassium are minerals which are found naturally in the foods we eat daily.  Unless a person is participating in 3-5 hours of exercise such as marathon runners or Ironman competitors they should be able to get the nutrients needed from a balanced diet.

Do I need to eat before or after my workout?  The answer is both.  Look for pre- and post-exercise meals in Sports Nutrition Part 3.

*Carbohydrates (fruits, grains, legumes, and most non-green vegetables) are the bodies primary source of fuel, stored in the muscles and liver.  Essentially, carbs are the human version of gasoline to a car.  

The Hydration Game Plan

Before Exercise
2-3 hours before                                                                                   15-20 oz of water
10-15 minutes before                                                                            8-10 oz of water
During Physical Activity
Less than 60 to 90 minutes of activity                                        8-10 oz of water every 10-15 minutes
Endurance athletes                                                                                8-10 oz of a sports drink every 15-30 minutes
After Training
*20-24 oz of water for every pound of body weight lost.

*In order to know how much water to consume after a race, weight should be taken before and after exercise to properly compensate for sweat losses.

Drink up!

Tawnie Goodwin



American Dietetic Association. (2009, January 1). Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada and the American College of Sports Medicine from the Academy: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Retrieved March 12, 2014, from

Blatner, D. (2012, December 1). Play Ball! Tips for the Weekend Baseball Warrior. from the Academy. Retrieved March 12, 2014, from

Mayo Clinic. (2014, February 12). Dehydration. Retrieved March 12, 2014, from

Quinn, E. (2014, January 1). How Much Water Should You Drink Proper Hydration During Exercise?. Sports Medicine. Retrieved March 12, 2014, from

2 thoughts on “Sports Nutrition Part 2: The Hydration Game Plan

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