Choosing the Right Post-Workout Drink

By Meghann Feely, Assistant Director of Fitness and Wellness

Meghann Feely, Assistant Director of Fitness and Wellness

Whether you’re heading off to Dark Room Cycle (check out the video above!), BearFlex, Energy Sculpt, or Barre class, it is always important to hydrate so you can stay energized and help flush your body of lactic acid. While staying hydrated with good old-fashioned water is natural to the body, I do get a lot of questions about electrolyte-loaded drinks, like Gatorade or PowerAde. 

Here is my advice about these types of drinks: bring your electrolyte-loaded drinks in when your workout lasts an hour or longer. Our bodies are made up mostly of water, which needs to be replenished during a workout. Electrolyte drinks help maintain fluid balance but unless a workout lasts longer than an hour, we can replenish electrolytes through foods we eat.

If you are going more than an hour and decide to give your body a quick little boost, be careful which electrolyte-loaded drink you choose. Many sports drinks are high in sodium, low in potassium, and have artificial flavors and colors with little to no nutrients or vitamins. Just like everything we put into our bodies, it is important to read the labels. Coconut water skips the extra calories from sugar and has more potassium and less sodium than sports drinks (most of us do not need the extra sodium for our workouts) and can be a great alternative post-workout option.

Another option available free inside Sumers Rec Center is chocolate milk. It contains more carbohydrates and protein than sports drinks or water alone, as well as a boost of calcium. In order for your muscles to metabolize the carbohydrates, chocolate milk is best for high-endurance workouts with constant movement like long-distance running, swimming, or cycling. Stop by the Zenker Wellness Suite for free chocolate milk, and look for our Tasty Tuesday programming for other nutrition and fitness tips.