Hydration for Athletes

Hydration for Athletes

Drink this (in order of preference) . . . 

  • Water
  • Homemade “sports” drink
  • Diluted lemonade
  • Naturally Flavored water
  • Coconut water
  • Commercial sports drinks with reservations

Don’t drink this . . .

    • Carbonated drinks
    • Energy drinks
    • Drinks that contain artificial sweeteners
    • Unfiltered apple juice
    • Milk as a drink for hydration

The beverages in the “Don’t Drink This” category are specifically referring to around exercise, and even more specific to pre-exercise.

The term “energy drink” refers to a type of beverage containing substances that act as non-nutritive stimulants, such as caffeine, guarani, taurine, ginseng, i-carnitine, creatine and/or glucuronalctone, with purported ergogenic or performance effects. The stimulants in energy drinks are simply not appropriate for young, growing people.

Parents may think a diet soda or artificially-sweetened drink better for children so as not to add calories. Studies don’t support this. Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center recently presented strong data showing that drinking diet soda can be unhelpful for losing weight. They found that the more diet sodas a person drank, the more weight they gained. Some recent studies on sucralose (Splenda) and aspartame (Nutra-sweet) raise concern that weight gain may be the kindest of undesirable effects. Dr. Murdoch and I would encourage parents and coaches not to model drinking artificially-sweetened beverages, as the overall goal is to help young athletes find health through balance.

As benign and healthful as apple juice and milk seem, these liquids should not be drunk before or during a game. Unfiltered apple juice can cause stomach cramping in some players. Milk is a high protein food, not actually a drink considering the amount of calories and nutrients present. Also, some people find cow’s milk difficult to digest, causing bloating or cramping. If players choose to drink milk as part of their diet, best not to drink it right before or during a game, but instead save it for post-workout.

Try out your own homemade sports drink – it’s actually much easier than you may think!

Homemade Sports Drink
Do-it-yourself and be sure that the ingredients are what you want to ingest. Do not use unfiltered apple juice to make this.

1⁄2 cup 100% orange (or other preferred fruit) juice 1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
2 quarts of water

  • Combine first three ingredients in a large pitcher. Give it a stir.
  • Add 2 quarts of water and stir again.
  • Pour into sports bottles and you’re good to go.
  • This makes the carbohydrate concentration 6% fit within the optimal range.
  • Prep time: 2 minutes. Makes 2 quarts.

    Fresh Lemonade Hydrator
    It is hard to find pre-made lemonade that doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup or other chemical sweeteners. This made-from-scratch drink refreshes hot, tired players.

    2 cups water
    3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
    1/2 cup sugar or dried cane juice
    2 teaspoons lemon zest, minced About 1 1⁄2 quarts of additional water

  • Bring 2 cups water to boil. Add lemon juice, sugar and zest. Lower heat and simmer about 10 minutes, until sugar is dissolved. Let cool.
  • Pour into a large pitcher and add enough water to bring the amount up to 2 quarts.
  • Pour into sports bottles and you’re good to go.
  • Prep time: 15 minutes. Makes 2 quarts.
    –Amy Goodson

    amy-goodson-quarterback-ranchAmy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a registered dietitian for Ben Hogan Sports Medicine and serves as the sports dietitian for the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, FC Soccer Dallas, Jim McClean Golf School, Texas Christian University Athletics, and University of Texas at Arlington Athletics. In addition, she is an adjunct professor and dietetic intern preceptor for Texas Woman’s University, Texas Christian University and the University of Texas at Arlington and is a state media representative for the Texas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. . She received her Bachelor of Science degree in speech communications from Texas Christian University and Masters in Exercise and Sports Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University.