Not hydrating before a workout is like not learning to swim before going swimming- basically a terrible idea. Hydrating in general is crucially important, and most athletes are aware of this, but what exactly you use to hydrate is just as important.
According to Columbia University, you’re supposed to drink 20 ounces of water two hours before a workout, another eight ounces during warm-up, and an additional eight ounces every 10 to 20 minutes depending on the amount of sweat you’re producing. That’s a lot of liquid—so you best be sure you’re sipping the right stuff.
Here are 5 drinks that you should never drink before your workout.
1. Sugary fruit drinks
As fun and easy as squeezable juice pouches are to drink, just say no! “Most of these fruity drinks are loaded with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a manmade sweetener that’s been shown to initiate liver dysfunction, metabolic syndrome, and obesity,” says Angela Onsgard, R.D., resident nutritionist at Miraval Resort & Spa in Tucson, Arizona. Instead, liven up your water bottle with fresh citrus fruits, berries, mint, or basil. “Or opt for coconut water, which replenishes the electrolytes you’ll lose during your workout,” Onsgard says.
2. Sports drinks
Tragically, your beloved sports drinks aren’t as hydrating and good for you as they commercials portray. Most sports drinks on the market are actually loaded with sugar and contain little-to-no nutrition. “You might get some added vitamins and electrolytes from some brands on the market, but the high sugar content goes right through your system to cause an energy crash later on,” says Onsgard. “It can wreak havoc on your hormonal system and is a strain for your body to process, on top of the repairing requirements that follow a workout.” Instead, try some additive-free tomato juice (if you can stomach it), which provides potassium, has natural sugars, and promotes healthy blood pressure.
3. Carbonated beverages
Fizzy drinks, like soda and seltzer, can cause bloating, abdominal pain, and gas (as if getting through your workout wasn’t hard enough). They also contain significant amounts of sodium, which draws water out of the body’s cells and can cause dehydration. If you’re a diet soda fiend, know that most brands contain aspartame, an artificial sweetener that’s been linked to a number of side effects such as migraines, dizziness, memory loss, and mood swings. “Instead of soda, go for an iced-cold green tea drink,” says Onsgard. “It’s naturally high in antioxidants and is shown to reduce the risk of several types of cancer.”