Workout Fuel: Are You Hitting All Four Hydration Points?

Even in the fall, Texas weather is known for two things: heat and sweat! That means Texas athletes need a special focus on hydration. Losing 2% of body weight through sweat and activity can cause a 10% decrease in performance. 

But hydrating during a workout isn’t enough; there are actually four points for staying fueled before and after that practice or game. From my TCU college athletes to the Dallas Cowboys, we make sure to hit all four points with low-calorie beverages like water and nutrient-rich beverages like low-fat chocolate milk. 

Four Points for Total Hydration:

  1. Two to four hours before workout 
    16-20 oz. of a low-calorie fluid
  2. Immediately before workout 
    5-10 oz. of a low-calorie fluid
  3. During workout 
    5-10 oz. of a low-calorie fluid every 20 minutes
  4. Post-workout 
    16 oz. of nutrient-rich fluid for every pound of fluid sweated out
    24 oz. of nutrient-rich fluid for each pound lost if you train twice per day

What type of low-calorie fluid?

Before and during a workout, hydrate with a beverage like water, flavored water, Crystal Light, G2 or unsweet tea.

What type of nutrient-rich fluid?
Replenish post-workout with something high in protein, carbs and electrolytes – like chocolate milk; or low-fat regular milk, plus a healthy carbohydrate like fruit; or a smoothie with Greek yogurt, fruit, water and ice.

Why milk? Research shows regular and chocolate milk to be uniquely effective at fueling athletes in endurance or resistance activities. It’s full of nine essential nutrients, including:

  • High-quality protein – 8g or more in every glass reduce muscle breakdown and stimulate muscle growth
  • Carbohydrates – With at least 26g of carbohydrates per glass, low-fat chocolate milk has an ideal ratio of carbs-to-protein for powering performance. It helps fuel and rebuild muscles to give the body energy
  • Fluid and electrolytes – Hydrate the body and replenish what is lost in sweat

Many athletes don’t feel hungry after a workout, but the need to re-stock the body is essential! Low-fat and fat-free milk – white or chocolate – are a great, natural way to rehydrate, replenish energy and rebuild muscle. Plus, just three daily servings of low-fat dairy provide the calcium to help build strong bones. And of course, it tastes great, is inexpensive and is easy to find.

The latest research shows that chocolate milk outperforms sports drinks in teen athletes

Hydration Infograph

Read more handy sports nutrition tips.

By Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD

Amy Goodson is the sports dietitian for Ben Hogan Sports Medicine, Texas Christian University Athletics and the University of Texas at Arlington Athletics. She is also the consulting sports dietitian for the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, Dallas Stars, FC Dallas soccer team, and Jim McLean Golf School - where she works with amateur and professional golfers.

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