Fitness Strategies

Drinking Water During Exercise

How Much Water Should I Drink When I Work Out?

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The goals of fluid intake during exercise are to prevent dehydration from occurring and to not drink in excess of one’s sweating rate. One good way to figure out whether you need to drink something during your workout is to simply weigh yourself (without clothes) just before and after a typical workout. If your weight change is more than 2% of your starting weight, then in the future, you should plan to drink enough water during your workout to keep your post-workout weight within that 2% range. Typically, drinking a cup (8 oz) of water every 15-20 minutes will do the trick in all but the most extreme situations. While difficult to recommend a specific fluid schedule because of varying needs, this handy chart provides some basic guidelines:

Drink Water How Much? When?
Before Exercise 8-16 oz At least 15 minutes before workout
During Exercise 4-8 oz Every 15-20 minutes
After Exercise 16-24 oz per pound* lost As soon as possible

*If possible, weigh yourself on the same scale, before and after exercise so you know how much to drink for rehydration.

Special Cases: Long Workouts and Hot Weather
If your workout is particularly long or your environment is hot and/or humid, just drinking plain water during your exercise may not be the best option.

Two hours of vigorous exercise can deplete the fuel supply (called glycogen) that your muscle cells use during vigorous activity. Drinking water alone won’t replenish that fuel. Assuming you can’t take a meal break in the middle of your marathon race, you may need something to drink that also contains carbohydrate for energy and to sustain performance. Commercial sports drinks containing 6% to 8% carbohydrate from various sugar sources are recommended for exercise events lasting longer than 1 hour. Higher carbohydrate amounts should be avoided because they impede the rate at which the drink leaves the stomach thereby slowing down the hydrating benefit. To estimate your carbohydrate need during sustained exercise, aim for about 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour of endurance exercise. Following the event, replenish your energy stores using these recommended guidelines.
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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

Member Comments

  • I have no idea where the bottle came from, but I found a really cool water bottle in the house and I've used it for about 2 weeks, I even drink from it at home instead of a class..and it holds more. I can't tell you how much bottles I've been through and the one I really like I found at random. - 9/7/2014 11:56:49 AM
  • JELLO1274
    I receive emails from the company I bought my water filtration pitcher (I absolutely love it! Its from drinksoma) and recently they sent me an awesome interactive tool to figure out about how many cups of water I personally need each day. I thought this tool would be good to share with everyone since I grew up being told 8 cups of water is what I need to stay hydrated and healthy, but this tool Soma gave me proved that old saying wrong!
    Here is the link in order to find out how much water you personally need based on your weight and how long you work out a day, https://www.drink
    soma.com/wate
    r-calculator
    Check it out! Its awesome - 7/16/2014 5:28:18 PM
  • UWGRAD07
    Thanks for sharing...I've also read that we are supposed to drink half our body weight in ounces. I drink one bottle of water on my way to work every morning and I keep 3 bottles of water on my desk, this helps me to remember throughout the day to drink water. I also keep a case of water at work so it's always handy instead of trying to purchase or reach for other beverages. - 6/17/2014 11:47:41 AM
  • Good reminders. Thanks for sharing. - 9/14/2013 7:36:34 AM
  • Loved the article and it applies to people like me with relatively moderate workouts. However, there is some interesting research about rigorous work outs and recovery meals. Apparently eating high carbs immediately following an intense workout (over and hour) significantly reduces to recovery time of you body. For example, a college level athlete might be given a whole pizza following a football game and a second high carb meal 60 to 90 minutes later. Just interesting fodder...... - 8/25/2013 9:25:04 AM
  • Great advise. I need to remember to drink more water! - 2/14/2013 9:23:37 PM
  • EMILYAW1
    For me, I always have water on-hand when I work out, but I rarely finish an entire 12 ounce bottle before my workout (even 60 minute ones) are over.
    This is because I find that I don't need to rehydrate my body so immediately during a workout as I need to wet my whistle. I especially don't drink more than a sip or two when I'm about to do ab work (on my back or front). If I do, I can feel the water rise in my throat.
    It's best to drink in moderation during exercise, and excess afterwards. - 12/8/2012 4:55:53 PM
  • Good info, good reminder, basic and solid need to know information. - 10/4/2012 12:28:14 AM
  • This is such a good reminder, along with specifics I never knew. It's 2pm and here I am haven't had a drink of water at all today! - 10/2/2012 3:06:43 PM
  • ASHPATCH11
    For me ....

    During any one basketball game I often have many sips where I sub off or its half time. However if I am super thrity i try not to chugg or it makes my belly sloshy no good to run with.

    During a weekend tourmament with 3-4 games within a few hours i will drink water and a sports drink.

    During a 60min run outside i dont drink any water during the run but i do drink just before and after the run.

    I like the advise of doing what feels right!
    - 10/2/2012 11:39:40 AM
  • All good info, especially the part that says - do what feels right and you prefer!
    - 8/24/2012 9:39:05 AM
  • This sounds like a sane article; certainly made me feel better. Like some commenters, I cannot bear the thought of drinking during my exercise sessions. I even feel nauseated if I think of drinking about 15 minutes afterwards. I feel weird because I am really the only one in my gym without a water bottle; everyone else is sipping away. The ironic thing is that very few people work out at my intensity, plus I sweat until my clothes are drenched. But I do not want to drink. I pack a small thermos of cold water or lemonade and drink it in the car about 15-20 minutes afterward. - 8/24/2012 8:50:20 AM
  • I cannot drink during any type of exercise. I get nauseous. have vomit a couple of times. - 8/24/2012 7:28:32 AM
  • I'm someone who needs to take at least a sip to a few gulps of water between each routine during Zumba. It makes sense, because I sweat a lot, but it still seemed like a lot of water to be drinking--about 8 oz. per 15 minutes of exercise. I'm relieved to find out that it's an acceptable amount of water to be drinking. :) - 6/28/2012 1:42:40 PM
  • == *If possible, weigh yourself on the same scale, before and after exercise so you know how much to drink for rehydration. ==

    There are people I really wish could understand this - that the only real change from before to after exercise is water loss and that it needs to be replenished rather than celebrated as a weight loss. - 6/18/2012 12:39:42 PM
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