How Much Water to Drink During A Workout

Written By: Leah Perrier, RD

Title: Registered Dietitian

Alumni: University of Saskatchewan

Last Updated on:

Hydration and Workout

Our bodies are made up of 65 percent water. Maintaining hydration throughout the day is challenging enough, let alone making up for the water lost in sweat from a good workout. Being dehydrated by even 2 percent can decrease performance by 10 percent. This is just one more reason to pay attention to fluid intake!

Being well hydrated is critical to good blood volume, cardiac output and delivery of oxygen to the working muscles. Staying well hydrated also decreases the risk of muscle cramping, regulates core body temperature and gets rid of unwanted waste. The average amount of water that can be lost in a day through regular bodily functions is two to two-and-a-half liters! When we workout, we lose additional water through the sweat process. That is why I have a plan for staying well-hydrated on a daily basis and during exercise.

Guidelines for staying hydrated throughout your workout

Follow these guidelines to make sure that you are well-hydrated for your workout:

  1. Two to three hours prior to a workout, drink two to three cups of water (think of it as the 2:3 rule)
  2. During a workout, drink one-fourth to one-half of a cup of water or sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes throughout your training session. In warm weather you may need more because of increased water loss due to sweating. Your thirst mechanism is blunted during exercise, so don’t rely on drinking only when you are feeling thirsty. Instead, set your watch to go off every 15-20 minutes to prompt you to take a sip.
  3. During your post-workout recovery, don’t forget to recover with two to three cups of water. Replace each pound of body weight lost during your workout with at least two cups of water.

Monitoring hydration status

A good indication of hydration is the color and amount of urine produced. If you are experiencing small amounts of dark colored urine, it could be a sign that you are dehydrated. Another way to determine if you are well-hydrated is to weigh yourself before and after your workout. A good rule of thumb is that if you have lost more than two pounds during your workout, then you need to drink more water during

Daily hydration tips

Staying well-hydrated throughout the day is a good start to your hydration plan. Here are some tips that I use to make sure I meet my daily fluid needs.

  • I carry a water bottle with me to trigger me to drink more throughout the day.
  • I aim to drink water with every meal and snack.
  • I drink water at 1:1 ratio with alcohol, and caffeine. They are diuretics and will cause water loss through increased urination.
  • Some days I find it challenging to drink straight water. For a change, I will flavor my water with lemon or lime juice. You can also try replacing ice cubes with frozen pieces of fruit such as oranges or grapes.


athletes, exercise, sports nutrition, water, work out


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