Water, Gel, Or Sports Drinks: What’s Best?

We all know that staying hydrated is good for us – but have you taken the time to think about why? Not in terms of keeping a healthy glow or flushing toxins, but in relation to physical activity. When you sweat, your body loses water + your blood volume decreases. The lower your blood volume – the harder your heart has to work to pump oxygen through your body to the muscles.

Your body doesn’t just lose water when you sweat, though. Things like sodium, potassium, + other important electrolytes are also lost. The loss of these nutrients can lead to fatigue + muscle cramps – they need to be replaced, but what’s the best choice? Water? A sports drink? Or maybe even a gel or chew?


It’s always best to go into a workout well high hydrated. Because you haven’t lost any important minerals just yet — water is the best place to start. Drink up within two hours before a workout. Water will keep blood volume up + ensure that the body stays hydrated.


During your workout, the beverage you choose will all depend on the duration + conditions of your workout. Any moderate to heavy activity performed for over an hour will definitely require water – the higher intensity may also require a sports drink. Sports drinks contain a small amount of carbohydrate + electrolytes to help boost performance + replenish muscle cells. Sports drinks can also help people who struggle with muscle cramps during workouts. These drinks can be a useful tool while training or during a long race – however, they do contain a substantial amount of calories, so it’s always good to be aware of when + how much you are using them.


Post workout it’s important to replace fluids + other nutrients [i.e. carbs + minerals]. Typically a post workout snack//meal//protein shake will do the trick – but if you are unable to do this, carrying a sports drink with you or some chews//gel is the perfect way to go.


These items are pretty much made to keep you going during a long event or replenish stores after strenuous activity. Gels + chews contain a lot of carbohydrate in the form of sugar. This can be useful to delay muscle fatigue during an event – studies have shown that a steady supply of carbohydrate keeps active muscles from tiring. Again, these items usually contain a significant amount of calories in the form of sugar [++ most contain chemicals as well]. I personally believe that real food is a better source of nutrients to replace lost body stores – but in a pinch, these things will work.


Food + pure water are always the best choice – but when these things are not the most convenient choice, sports drinks + chews can take their place. Water is your best friends when it comes to hydration – it can be used at any time. However, when exercising for periods greater than 1 hour [or when it is SUPER hot outside], sports drinks can be more beneficial to replace important minerals in the body. Chews//gels should only be used when absolutely necessary — during a long event or to recover in place of an adequate meal.

For me personally – I think that sports drinks make me more thirsty during a race. I prefer water, but if I feel like I’m getting run down a little too early, I’ll choose the sports drink for the next couple stations + follow it with water. Sometimes this jolt of energy is what I need to push through. BUT — It’s important to find out what works for you. Depending on how much water//electrolytes your body naturally loses at a given time – you may require a different method of hydration//recovery. It may help to experiment with different sports drinks in training so that you are ready on race day. Another thing worth mentioning is that sports drinks are different than *flavored water.* The best sports drinks to use will have about 6-8% carbohydrate content + 500-700 mg of sodium + potassium per serving. Read this article that compares different brands of *sports drinks*.


Stop, drop + CHUG. Today [+ every day!] make a point to carry your water bottle around with you! We want to see those water bottle selfies today ; ) [bonus points to anyone who drinks a gallon of water!] Make sure to tag #CHAARGSBFP + @CHAARG in your posts!

// FEATURED BEACH BAG PRODUCT: Bobble Sport in Sky Blue [gimme eerrrrything blue]. This water bottle filters as you drink for the purest water possible, exactly when you need it. Follow @bobblelove on insta for more inspiration to stay active and hydrated. We are so thankful to have this amazing company a part of the #CHAARGSBFP.

+Alexa, RD [@lexx_inchaarg] — Community Outreach

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