What Should I Drink When I Exercise at the Gym?

by | 28 Jun 2019 | Australian Sport Blog, gym, hydration, training

Have you ever wondered, “what should I drink when I exercise at the gym?”. The more we learn about nutrition, the more we are able to feed our bodies the right fuel to remain fit and healthy. There’s so many products out there these days, and so many multi-coloured concoctions we see people inhaling at the gym, that it’s hard to know what works and what’s all just a bunch of marketing. All Popeye needed for those biceps was spinach…if only it was that simple!

We’ve decided to break down for you what to drink throughout the three stages of a workout (pre-gym, at the gym and post-gym), to try and help you maximise your fitness progress.

What Should I Drink Before the Gym

So, before you head to the gym, it’s best stick with something light – you don’t want to feel ready to burst as you’re hopping on the treadmill or warming up for weights…it’s just not going to end well. Caffeine is a good option to give you a little pick-me-up for sure, just be careful not to over-do it! You don’t want to get the jitters, but a coffee should do the trick.  And well, if you’re one of those annoying people that feels ready for a gym sesh whenever and wherever, you might as well just keep it simple with the H2O and pre-hydrate!

What Should I Drink When I Exercise at the Gym

What you drink during your actual workout itself depends largely on what kind of exercise you’re performing, and for how long you’re doing it. The general rule of thumb is that if you’re not doing much strenuous exercise, there’s little difference in performance between drinking plain water versus drinks containing carbohydrates and electrolytes.

However, if you’re performing strenuous exercise in which you’ll be losing a lot of sweat, or if it’s in a particularly humid environment, then consider a drink containing carbohydrates and electrolytes (e.g. magnesium for instance). Sports drinks such as these offer three things: firstly, hydration: even the initial stages of dehydration can cause fatigue as well as cognitive impairment, so prevent it as best you can. Secondly, energy: the carbohydrates will help to prolong the fatigue you experience during the workout. And thirdly, electrolytes: necessary to replace electrolytes lost naturally through excess sweating. The longer you exercise for, the more important it is to replace not only fluids but electrolytes and minerals as well.

For serious athletes amongst you that are regularly performing excess sweat-inducing exercise, you might want to consider doing a sweat test. Essentially this involves weighing yourself before and after exercise in order to determine the volume of sweat lost and therefore the volume of fluid required to replace this. For optimum performance, it’s crucial to make sure you’re staying hydrated!

What Should I Drink After the Gym

The hard work’s over, the gym session is done for the day (unless you’re one of those nutcases that trains twice a day), so it’s time to begin the recovery process. Protein is inevitably at the heart of this process as it’s needed to heal muscle and promote growth. So, whether it’s weights or cardio you’re up to in the gym, try to take in 30 grams of protein up to 60 minutes after your workout finishes. Protein shakes can be a great way to do this, just be wary again of high sugar content in some protein powder.

Overall, the most important thing to drink before, during and after your workout is inevitably water, in order to stay hydrated and healthy. If you’re not a fan of good old plain water, then maybe try and spice it up a little with some fruity infusions or flavours to help you get it down!

Aside from this, if you’re expecting to be sweating your heart out for hours on end, think about an electrolyte drink to help replace minerals lost through sweat. And finally, post-workout time is protein time. There’s no need to over-do it, 30 grams is plenty, but it’s a crucial part of the recovery process for the muscles you’ve just tortured. Viola, drinks at the gym sorted, now onto food…hmmm.

Photo by Danielle Cerullo on Unsplash

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