Working up a sweat is one of the best things you can do for your body. Regular exercise keeps the body’s joints and organs functioning well. It can also be excellent for maintaining a sense of mental wellbeing. No doubt about it, exercise has amazing health benefits and it’s important to take extra care of your body following a difficult workout by stretching tight muscles and rehydrating.
Why Is It Important to Drink Something After a Workout?
Working out is beneficial to your physical and mental health. However, strenuous activity can take a toll on the body. Here’s what happens to the body during and after a workout:
- Adrenaline levels rise
- Heart rate increases
- Millions of sweat glands on your body kick in
- Muscles call on on stored glucose for energy
- Muscles become inflamed
- Blood flow increases to the brain
Essentially, exercise forces the body to use its reserve energy stores while waste is excreted through the sweat glands. This helps to keep you cool during a workout but leaves you feeling tired and dehydrated. Rehydrating post-workout is important and should be a part of your workout routine.
The 10 Best Things to Drink After a Workout
Let’s take a look at the ten best things to drink after a workout.
While it can be fun to try different drinks, the truth is, when it comes to hydration, nothing beats water. H2O is the natural drink that the body craves for hydration. The human body is made up of a majority of water, which gets lost through the skin via sweat during exercise. Water has zero calories, so if you’re trying to lose weight, water won’t pack on unneeded calories.
Professionals recommend that you aim to drink 17 to 20 ounces of water a few hours before a workout. After your workout, try to drink an 8-ounce glass of water to quickly replenish your hydration level.
Electrolyte water is water that has been enhanced with added electrolytes. Electrolytes are naturally occurring salts and minerals that are vital to various functions of the body including maintaining pH balance and hydration status. Electrolytes are found in sodium, calcium, and potassium. When we lose water through the sweat glands, we also lose electrolytes which can leave us feeling drained and wiped out after working out.
You can find electrolyte water in tablet form or in energy drinks like Gatorade. Be mindful of which type of electrolyte water you choose to drink as some options have a much higher calorie count than others and often contain added sugars.
Replacing your electrolytes is essential after an intense workout or when you’re doing a heavy workout outside. The amount of sweat you are producing is a key indicator. Unless you’re sweating quite a lot, you probably won’t lose enough electrolytes to make an electrolyte replacing the drink necessary.
Have you ever walked into a boutique fitness studio and noticed the shelves are lined with rows of coconut water? The drink is certainly having a moment in the limelight after being touted as nature’s healthy version of Gatorade. Rumor even has it, coconut water is more hydrating than water.
Coconut water has an incredibly high amount of potassium. In fact, it has around 10 times more potassium than most sports drinks. This makes coconut water a great way to replenish electrolytes without the added high sugar content that comes with many sports drinks.
Coconut water has a unique sweet taste that takes some getting used to. While some people love it, others find it has a sour and unpleasant taste that’s hard to stomach.
Green tea is one of those drinks that you really can’t go wrong with . This tea is a great source of hydration and has plenty of other benefits. Studies have shown that when mixed with exercise, green tea may help you to burn more calories from fat.
The mixture of caffeine and antioxidants gives green tea it’s seemingly mystical power. One antioxidant called EGCG has been shown to boost metabolism. Caffeine works to give all of the body’s systems a boost.
If your goal is weight loss green tea is a great beverage to drink before or after a workout and may help your workout result in maximum fat burning.
Not many people think of cherry juice as a natural choice to drink after a workout. For the last decade or so, the drink has been linked with muscle recovery after high-intensity workouts..
Studies suggest that protective antioxidants in tart cherry juice have the power to decrease muscle inflammation following use.
The best way to include cherry juice in your post-workout routine is to add 100% tart cherry juice to another, more palatable beverage, or mix it with water. You only need 4-6 ounces of this pure juice to make a difference.
If you tend to feel hungry or low on energy after a workout, you may want to choose a more substantial beverage like a smoothie. We recommend adding avocado to your smoothie because of its health benefits and its ability to help with recovery after working out.
Avocados are high in potassium, an important mineral that we can lose through sweat. When your muscles are depleted of potassium, you may notice cramping and twitching. By making an avocado smoothie, you’ll be able to replenish your potassium so that your muscles can recover and function properly.
Though healthy, avocados are also a source of fat. Consider adding ⅓ of a small avocado to your favorite smoothie blend for added nutrition.
Chocolate milk may sound like the wrong thing to drink after a workout. Surely chocolate is a dessert food that should be avoided after working out? You may be surprised to learn that there is a large group of people, including experts who swear by chocolate milk as a post-workout beverage.
Chocolate milk has a winning combination of post-workout ingredients. The drink is a source of water, protein, and simple carbohydrates, all of which can benefit the body after a workout. It turns out, chocolate milk has the perfect ratio of carbs to protein at about 4 to 1. This combination is ideal for helping the body to rebuild muscle after working out.
It may be best to reserve this beverage for after a hard, long workout. If you are planning on spending two hours exercising consistently, this drink may be for you.
Blueberries are often touted as a superfood and for a good reason. These delicious little berries are an excellent source of polyphenols, which are a plant-based group of antioxidants that are great for protecting your cells from damage.
Consuming blueberries may help to reduce muscle pain, cramping, and inflammation, so this juice is a great post-workout choice. They also contain complex carbohydrates, which provide your body with the healthy glucose it needs to re-energize and repair damaged muscles.
We’ve already spoken about replenishing electrolytes after a workout. Sports drinks are formulated to contain high amounts of electrolytes. Compared to coconut water, are sports drinks better or worse? Well, one study showed that the effects on rehydration were more or less the same.
If your main concern is rehydration after a workout, you can reach for either a sports drink or coconut water. However, if you’re concerned about added sugars, be mindful about which sports drink you choose. On average, sports drinks contain 56 to 76 g of added sugar per bottle. While this can give you an immediate energy boost, this amount of sugar is likely counterproductive to your overall health goals.
This is another good option for people who feel tired and even hungry following a working out. Health professionals recommend consuming around 20 to 40 g of protein shortly after working out in order to recover from exercise. Try whipping up a smoothie filled with peanut butter, coconut milk, seeds, or another source of protein.
Try choosing your drink based on what kind of workout you’ve had. If you’ve worked up a sweat, choose a hydrating drink with electrolytes..After an intensive muscle training session, you may want to choose a more substantial drink that will re-energize you for the rest of your day.
Let us know your favorite post-workout drinks!