Post-Workout Hydration Tips from the Pros

Post-Workout Hydration Tips from the Pros(Source: Thinkstock)Hydration is key, especially for active types. But how much water is enough, when do we drink it, and how do we know we're dehydrated? We chatted with Susan Stanley, Equinox T4 coach and master instructor, to get her expert hydration tips.

How much water should an active person drink daily before, during, and after a workout?
"There is shockingly little research on this! The 'eight glasses a day' theory is completely anecdotal. The recommendations I hear from nutrition experts I respect are: one ounce per two pounds of body weight, plus about 20 additional ounces for each hour of exercise."

Why is water really the best and most powerful source of hydration?
"It contains no other chemicals or substances that interfere with the uptake of water into the cells. That being said, under some conditions, water with additional electrolytes will deliver water into the cell more efficiently, and hydrate more effectively than [regular] water. But these conditions are far more extreme than encountered in the gym."

Is it true that by the time you feel thirsty you're already dehydrated?
"It depends on how in touch you are with your own body, but I would say that generally, yes. Most of us are dehydrated. Thirst is your body telling you that water is overdue."

In addition to water, do you recommend electrolyte-filled drinks such as sports drinks or powders and coconut water?
"It is always good to know what vitamins and minerals you are deficient in, and endeavor to use real food or drink to replenish them. Using sports drinks to make up for insufficient nutrition is not the best strategy. However, in environmental extremes and exercise extremes, where the body is using more nutrients than is typical, drinks with electrolytes are indicated."

If you don't hydrate after a workout, what are some of the possible consequences?
"Inadequate healing and recovery, tight and restricted fascia and muscle––and thus, increased muscle soreness; blood volume can be lower, which makes the heart work harder; eyesight, brain function and coordination start to suffer. And of course, one percent dehydration can equate to about a ten percent drop in performance!"

Is it true the color of your urine can help you determine your hydration level?
"This can help indicate your level of hydration, definitely. Generally, the lighter the color, the more hydrated one is. However, color can be determined by other things as well: beets can make urine darker, vitamins can make them very yellow or green. If we drink a bunch of water all at once, our body recognizes the excess and may eliminate it quickly, and this will make urine lighter in color, but the water may not necessarily make it into the cells to hydrate the body. The best approach is to drink two to three ounces every 15 minutes or so, and move frequently. The body can absorb about this much water without recognizing excess to eliminate, and movement helps to deliver the water to all the cells."