How Much Water Do You Need?
So how much water should you drink before, during, and after a workout? First, make sure you’re well hydrated to begin with. Drink fluids throughout the day before you exercise. Then follow this formula from Melton:
- One to two hours before your workout, drink 15 to 20 ounces of water
- 15 minutes before you begin, drink between 8 and 10 ounces of water
- During your workout, drink another 8 ounces every 15 minutes.
You may need to drink more if you’re sweating heavily, especially if you’re exercising outdoors in very hot weather.
Carlson also recommends that you weigh yourself before and after any type of exercise. “For every pound lost, replace it with 16 to 20 ounces of fluid,” she suggests. If you lose weight during the workout, drink a bit more next time.
Many people like to use sports drinks during a workout, but that’s generally not necessary unless you’re working out for an extended period of time. “Most people who are working out for less than an hour at a time can get everything they need with just water,” Melton says.
Can You Drink Too Much Water?
It’s possible to drink too much water, but difficult to do. There is a condition called hyponatremia, usually found in endurance athletes. With hyponatremia, the blood becomes excessively diluted from too much water and sodium levels drop to dangerously low levels. This can lead to nausea, headaches, confusion, fatigue, and in extreme cases, coma and death.
But you’d have to drink gallons of water to suffer hyponatremia -- enough to gain weight over the course of a workout, which is rare.
Just make sure you have a full water bottle handy and drink whenever you feel thirsty. If you weren’t getting enough water during workouts before, you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel.
“I tell all of our young athletes this: you can improve your performance simply by drinking enough water,” Nessler says.