Exercise is a key part of a daily health regimen. The minimum recommended activity is at least 30 minutes a day, although most classes and circuit workouts last at least an hour. Regardless of how long your workout is, it’s important to stay hydrated before, during, and after you exercise to ensure you’re giving the body what it needs to maintain healthy muscles, tissues, and organs.
There are several post-workout drink ideas on the market today, some better than others. Make sure to read ingredient labels for hidden sugars or artificial ingredients. Some drinks purely help to rehydrate the body. Others work to aid in muscle growth or recovery. Depending on what you want to achieve from your workout, certain post-workout drinks may benefit you more than others. We’re offering a few suggestions to choose from after you exercise.
Staying Hydrated with Water
The best workout recovery drink is water. It may not be as exciting as the others, but it’s a tried and true way to stay hydrated and benefit your body in many ways. It’s recommended to drink at least eight glasses of water every day. However, when you’re working out, you sweat more, which means you must increase your daily intake to replenish the water that’s been lost.
Whether you’re engaging in a low- or high-intensity workout, drinking plenty of water helps to lubricate the joints, maintain your body temperature, keep your organs functioning well, and flush out toxins from the system. For an added boost, opt for electrolyte-enhanced water or coconut water, which contains high levels of magnesium and potassium to benefit the body.
Jazz up the flavor of regular water or coconut water by squeezing in fresh lemon or lime into your stainless steel water bottle before you head to your workout. Or, infuse the water with mint or berries. Nearly any kind of fruit can add natural flavor to the water without adding artificial sugars, which makes this beverage a great choice to get and maintain healthy skin! According to research published by the National Library of Medicine, you can lose as much as 10 liters of water per day due to sweat, especially if you’re exercising in hot temperatures. Even though you may think you’re substantially hydrated, it’s best to go ahead and drink even more.
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Muscle Recovery from Protein Drinks
The more you work out, the more protein the body needs for muscle growth and recovery. As you start weight training or working your muscles regularly with daily exercise, it’s necessary to keep the body strong by drinking a post-workout recovery drink like a protein shake. A scoop of protein powder added to fresh fruits, ice, and water are the main ingredients needed to whip up a healthy recovery shake.
Whey protein, in particular, is found in dairy products and offers substantial amounts of amino acids necessary to carry out bodily functions. Evidence from a Nutrition and Metabolism study shows whey protein aids in speedy muscle repair and can promote weight loss without losing muscle ( Frestedt, J.L, Zenk, J.L., Kuskowski, M.A. et al).
One thing to keep in mind about this post-workout drink is to not exceed the daily recommended dosage, which is usually limited to one or two scoops (25-50 grams) of protein powder. Too much can lead to side effects like cramping, bloating, and digestive problems. If you decide to make a protein shake part of your everyday exercise routine, stick with the recommended amount for the best results.
Tart Cherry Juice
Cherry juice may not be the first drink you think of after you’ve had a heavy sweat session, but there are a multitude of health benefits from relying on it as your post-workout recovery drink. The juice is rich in antioxidants and reduces inflammation, which benefits muscle recovery and function. The key is to drink pure cherry juice rather than cherry mixes blended with other fruit concentrates, since these often include several grams of sugar. If needed, dilute with water to cut the tartness.
Drinking cherry juice is especially popular among those training for a marathon. A study published by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed long distance runners who drank cherry juice pre- and post-workout experienced faster muscle recovery and reduced inflammation. It also revealed drinking it even in the short-term (less than one week) proved effective at reducing acute pain and muscle soreness commonly caused by repeated distance running.
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It sounds a bit indulgent, but there’s research that shows nonfat chocolate milk may be a better choice for a post-workout recovery drink than your average sports drink. Chocolate milk helps the body preserve, replenish, and repair muscle, while also leading to improved performance the next time you exercise. Milk also provides an allotment of protein to meet the daily recommendation and calcium that helps build and maintain strong bones.
According to research provided by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, a cup of chocolate milk contains between eight and 11 grams of protein and double the carbohydrate content, which is ideal for tired muscles, when compared to plain milk, water, and most sports drinks. When limiting sugar in your diet, it may not be your everyday post-workout drink but may be a nice alternative to reach for every now and then.
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Sitting with a mug of green tea after you’ve had an intense workout may be effective in the process of breaking down fat and storing for energy as part of a post-workout recovery. Green tea also has high levels of antioxidants that help to reduce muscle soreness. Not in the mood for a hot brew? Chill ahead of time or top with ice for a cooler version.
As you begin your exercise regimen, these are the types of drinks you can incorporate interchangeably into your diet to promote hydration and health benefits for the body. By keeping a post-workout drink readily available, it’ll encourage you to choose one that aligns with your health goals, rather than grabbing a soda or sugary sports drink due to convenience.
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Foods with a High Water Content to Stay Hydrated
In addition to drinking fluids to restore your body’s hydration levels and support your muscles, snacking on certain foods with high water content to help you feel better after working out. Stick with fresh fruits and vegetables, cut up and packed in our reusable S’nack by S’well food container or S’well Eats food bowls for easy transport.
Cucumbers have approximately 95 percent water content and contain anti-inflammatory compounds that help to reduce skin irritation and waste from the body. They’re also a great way to flavor water as you work to meet your daily water intake.
As you might guess from the name, watermelon contains about 91 percent water. It’s a delicious summer treat that supports hydration and tastes delicious. Either eat by the slice or blend the flesh as part of a refreshing “smoothie” for a cool treat after you exercise.
Believe it or not, this crunchy vegetable contains 92 percent water. It’s also high in vitamins K and C. Plus, it contains nutrients that’ve been known to help lower cholesterol. Cut up cauliflower and dip in hummus or a Greek yogurt-based dressing for a quick, healthful, hydrating snack.
Another fruit made up of over 90 percent water is strawberries. When in season, they’re sweet enough to stand in as either a dessert or snack. They also provide flavonoids, which are linked to improved cognitive function. Fresh fruit is always a great option as a healthful snack, especially when you need to take one with you on the go.
A study referenced in Runner’s World discusses how bananas may be a better choice than sports drinks as a post-workout muscle recovery drink. They offer anti-inflammatory benefits, vitamins C and B6, and are a valuable source of potassium, which helps with water retention and to reduce blood pressure. Although it doesn’t have the water content available with other fruits and vegetables, it’s a good, go-to snack following exercise.
The more you exercise, the more your body loses water through sweat, and at an even higher rate when exercising in warm environments. Even if you’ve been following a strict regimen of drinking eight glasses of water per day, you’ll need to replenish your water intake regularly when working out.
Alternate between your favorite post-workout drink options and water-based snacks to make the most out of your physical activity and build lean muscle. Following proper nutrition and regular exercise all works together to keep you feeling healthy. Creating the habit is often the most challenging part of starting any health routine. Determine how much hydration you need to achieve per day and which drinks will help you get to your goal.
Keep Your Water Bottle Filled for Your Daily Workouts
Every form of exercise calls for post-workout hydration. Switch up your drink options and try something new and see if it helps you perform and feel better. Now that many of our normal exercise routines have been switched to outdoors only, the convenience of vending machines at the gym or hydration stations are not as readily accessible. Fortunately, the original 25-oz. S’well bottle keeps liquids cold up to 48 hours. That means you can always have a refreshing post-workout recovery drink on hand with you wherever you go.
Choose a swing cap or comfortable handle to attach to your backpack or belt loop when you’re hiking or biking. Take it with you to the gyms and exercise classes that have been moved outdoors. Wherever and whenever you’re exercising, you’ll have access to a cool drink to keep you hydrated, help your muscle tissue recover, and optimize your daily workouts.
Looking for more tips to support your health? From healthy skin to healthy snacks, we’ve got you covered
Sources: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK236237/; https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/hydration-after-workout-not-water-beer#coconut-water; https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-whey-protein/art-20363344; https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-whey-protein/art-20363344; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2289832/; http://www.eatingwell.com/article/15918/whats-the-best-after-workout-drink/; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2874510/; https://uamshealth.com/medical-myths/is-chocolate-milk-a-good-post-workout-drink/; https://health.clevelandclinic.org/dehydrated-these-7-foods-will-satisfy-your-thirst-and-hunger; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK236237/; https://www.runnersworld.com/uk/nutrition/a776299/bananas-as-effective-as-sugary-sports-drinks/;