Hydration is not something athletes should take lightly. Physical and mental performance can plunge with as little as a 2 to 3 percent drop in body weight caused by dehydration. Thankfully, there has never been a greater variety of cleverly formulated products available to keep you hydrated before, during and after your sweat-fests. Here’s a look at some of our favorite ways to drink up.
$4 for 12-ounce bottle
It’s never a good idea to start a workout without your fluid levels topped off. But sometimes it’s hard to get excited about drinking more yawny water. Enter this watermelon juice made with cold-pressed watermelon flesh, real lime juice and no added sugars. Since watermelon is about 90 percent water, it’s an ultra-hydrating way to get ready to work hard. And recent research found that drinking watermelon juice before exercise might help quell muscle soreness afterward.
$20 for a 16-serving pouch
Moving beyond an extensive lineup of hydration tablets, Nuun is now offering its first powdered drink mix geared toward longer workouts. Formulated with oversight from sport nutrition guru Stacy Sims, PhD, Nuun Performance contains multiple sources of non-GMO carbohydrates (dextrose and cane sugar) at a modest concentration. This may allow for superior carb and fluid absorption without gastro woes. A range of electrolytes are in each scoopful too. The not-too-sweet orange-mango and blueberry-strawberry flavors come from actual dried fruit. With a mere 8 grams of carbohydrates per serving, you may need more to go hard for 90-plus minutes.
GU Roctane Energy Drink Mix Summit Tea
$30 for a 12-serving canister
Formulated for athletes who are looking to perform on the long haul, this bonk-proof drink mix unapologetically contains plenty of carbohydrate energy: 59 grams for a 2-scoop serving. The use of multiple simple carbs (maltodextrin and fructose) translates to a faster, more-efficient delivery of calories, sodium and fluids from your gut into the bloodstream. The addition of amino acids may help lessen muscle breakdown and bolster mental focus. As a powder, you can tailor the water-to-mix ratio based on personal needs and what your stomach can tolerate. The summit tea flavor, which includes caffeine, offers a welcome respite from the citrus and berry tastes that dominate sports drinks.
Enduropacks Electrolyte Spray
$19 for a 2-ounce bottle
A perfect solution for athletes who don’t have an appetite for sugary, flavored sports drinks, those with sensitive tummies or big sweaters. With just a few pumps, you’ll infuse your water bottle with a very subtle lemony taste and a calorie-free source of several different electrolytes and minerals to aid in muscle contraction, fluid balance and mitigate the risk for hyponatremia. The slim bottle can stash in a pocket, so you can squirt more into a freshly filled water bottle on the run. You can even add an electrolyte boost to another sports drink. If your workout is more than 90 minutes, bring along some caloric fuel as well.
Organic Valley Organic Balance Dark Chocolate Protein Shake
$3 for 11-ounce bottle
Studies show that gulping chocolate milk post-workout can ramp up recovery. How? The drink you loved as a kid provides a trifecta of protein, carbs and fluid to encourage muscle repair, the replacement of spent energy stores and rehydration. Made with fair-trade chocolate and organic milk sourced from cows allowed to nibble in pastures (an evolutionary normalcy that increases nutrient levels in moo juice including anti-inflammatory omega-3s), this drink is like chocolate milk to the extreme. Each shake supplies 16 grams of muscle-friendly protein, about twice the amount found in typical chocolate milk.
Cheribundi Tart Cherry Juice
$2.50 per 8-ounce bottle
Research suggests that sipping cherry juice, particularly the pucker-inducing tart variety, can help you rebound quicker after a sweat session. That’s because cherries are loaded with potent anthocyanin antioxidants that work to lessen the oxidative muscle damage induced by spirited exercise. Cheribundi packs in 50 cherries per bottle that also provide natural sugars to help restock spent carbohydrate stores. Drink straight or blend into post-training smoothies.