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Exercise Drinking More Water

It is always important to stay hydrated, but with the heat of summer, it becomes even more important. That is especially true when exercising. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the leading exercise science organization in the world, makes these recommendations to ensure safe participation.


For most, thirst is generally a good indicator of fluid need, but according to W. Larry Kenney, Ph.D., past president of the ASCM, it is not good enough for those who are exercising, especially in hot conditions. “The clear and important message should be that thirst alone is not the best indicator of dehydration or the body’s fluid needs.” You need a plan. For safety, and optimal performance, the ACSM recommends:


  1. Check your weight prior to exercise.
  2. Hydration before exercise
    • Drink 16 – 20 ounces of water at least 4 hours before
    • Drink 8 – 12 ounces of water 10 to 15 minutes before exercise
  3. Hydration during exercise
    • Drink 3- 8 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes
    • Do not drink more than a quart of water per hour of exercise
  4. Hydration after exercise
    • Check your body weight. The goal is to weigh the same as pre-workout within 2 hours
    • Drink 20 – 24 ounces of water for every pound lost.
    • Check urine after exercise as well. Urine should be light yellow. Darker urine may indicate dehydration


In most situations, water is the preferred beverage. However, with high-intensity exercise of more than an hour or any exercise longer than 90 minutes, you not only need to rehydrate, you need to refuel. A sports beverage like Gatorade can replenish lost carbohydrates and electrolytes and accelerate rehydration. Look for those with 12 – 18 grams of carbohydrate per 8oz. (Gatorade has 14).  More carbohydrate will bring in more calories and slow the rate of absorption. (Coke has 26 grams and orange juice has 27 grams of carbohydrate per 8 oz).


There is no question water consumption contributes to safe exercise, and for general well-being for that matter, but what about its role in weight management? At first thought, it seems obvious; water has no calories so it has no impact on weight. But if you dig a little deeper, water actually might influence your weight in a number of ways.


  1. It is not uncommon for some people to misinterpret hunger for thirst.  As a result, some people may snack instead of drinking water when thirsty.
  2.  In 2003, German researchers reported that drinking very cold water resulted in a slight increase in metabolism. As you might have guessed, it took some energy to raise the temperature of the water. They estimated that if someone drank about 60 ounces of cold water every day they would lose about 5 pounds a year. Not a lot, but every bit counts.
  3. A study published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics in 2016 found those who drank the plainest water, consumed fewer calories. Specifically, the researchers found that those drinking 1-3 cups of water consumed 68 to 205 fewer calories per day.
  4. The results support previous research suggesting that caloric intake can be influenced by drinking water prior to meals and choosing water over caloric beverages.
  5. Researcher also found that even mild dehydration (fluid losses of 1-2%), was associated with negative mood, fatigue, and confusion. Making it more challenging to adhere to a healthy food and exercise program.


Looking for ways to incorporate more water into your plan?  Check out our tips for infused waters!