The warmer months are upon us, so staying hydrated is extra important. And with all the varieties of sports drinks on the market and new ones coming all the time, how do you decide which one (if any) are right for you? While you don’t want to dehydrate your body during physical exercise, you also don’t want to drink unnecessary amounts of sugar or sodium. From a hydration standpoint, the goal during exercise to maintain proper fluid balance.

How do you ensure that you are maintaining proper fluid balance? You may often hear once you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated. This is why it is important to drink fluids throughout the day and not wait until reaching that point. Your body’s hydration status should not be monitored by thirst, though. It is not a good enough indicator, so there are other ways to check your hydration status.

Weighing yourself before and after physical activity is a good indication of fluid loss. For a pre-physical activity measurement, weigh yourself nude in the morning after using the bathroom. To ensure proper hydration, you can compare your weight after any physical activity. Weight loss is highly likely due to dehydration, so drink enough fluid to replenish yourself. Another good indication of hydration is urine color. The lighter the color, the more hydrated you are.

So how do you know how much to drink before, during and after physical activity? Always check your hydration status prior to any physical activity due to a wide range of fluid needs for individuals. Recommendations for liquid intake and physical activity are:


• 16 to 20 ounces of water or a sports beverage at least four hours before.

• 8 to 12 ounces of water 10 to 15 minutes before you start.


Choosing water or a sports beverage will depend on the length of physical activity.

• Drink 3 to 8 ounces of water for every 15 to 20 minutes of exercise for physical activity less than 60 minutes.

• If you plan on being active longer than one hour, drink 3 to 8 ounces of a sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes. (Choose a sports drink with 5 to 8 percent carbohydrates that includes electrolytes. For help picking out the correct sports drink, contact a registered dietitian.

• Be sure to drink less than one quart per hour during physical activity.


• Check your body weight and monitor urine color to estimate hydration status.

• Drink 20 to 24 ounces of water or a sports drink for every pound lost during physical activity.

*Choose a sports drink with 5 to 8 percent carbohydrate that includes electrolytes. For help picking out the correct sports drink, contact a registered dietitian.


Try this easy, fruit-infused water.

Cherry Limeade

Servings: 4


6 to 8 mint leaves

10 pitted cherries, cut in half

1 key lime, sliced thinly


Directions: Muddle mint leaves in bottom of glass. Combine mint with pitted cherries, sliced lime, ice and water. Let steep 30 minutes before serving.

Other infusion combinations include:

• Cucumber, lemon and sliced ginger root.

• Lime, orange and rosemary.

• Raspberries, mint and lime.

Tracey Shaffer, RD, LD, is a Hy-Vee dietitian at the Blue Springs location The information provided should not be construed as professional medical advice. Email her at