Hydration is essential to optimal athletic performance, so don't be afraid to reach for that water bottle when you're feeling parched mid-run. It's important to rehydrate before, during, and after working out. Signs of dehydration are pretty serious, and include muscle cramps, nausea, headaches, fatigue, and dark urine—no thanks. Luckily, dehydration is pretty preventable. 

water, beer, iced water, ice, glass, water cup
Jocelyn Hsu

While there's no exact amount needed for training (the whole 8-glasses a day thing is arbitrary), you should definitely drink up before and after a workout to feel and perform your best. Everybody's hydration needs are different. Listen to your body's needs and watch your pee. Yes, I'm serious! It should be a natural, light yellow hue, not too dark or too clear. 

Water works well for in hydrating most people engaging in moderate exercise, but some extreme athletes or endurance exercisers require more. Keep in mind that hydration is more than chugging water — it's a balance of fluids and electrolytes (including potassium, magnesium, sodium, chlorine, calcium, and phosphate). Certain high-water foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables, can contribute to your fluid intake, too. 

It's also possible to be over-hydrated. Drinking too much fluid can lead to electrolyte imbalances and may make cause dizziness, fatigue, and heart arrhythmia. 

fitness, Sneakers, running, Tennis shoes, Yoga, water bottle
Jocelyn Hsu

#SpoonTip: Other factors can influence your hydration status. If you are training at high altitudes, you are likely to need more fluid than when you train at low altitudes.

Drinking plain water can be hard for some people, though. It's kind of, well, boring. Below is a list of beverages, besides plain water, to help you rehydrate your workout routine to feel and perform your best.

1. Water With Fruit Slices

juice, cocktail, sweet, ice, mint, lime, lemon, alcohol
Jonathan Hsu

As mentioned above, there's nothing better than good old H20 for most people engaging in low or moderate intensity exercise. But if you can't get yourself to drink plain water, you can try to liven it up with some fruit or vegetable wedges to infuse it with some flavor

2. Water with a Splash of Sports Drink, or a 50/50 Mix

If you're working out for an extended period at high intensity, or engaging in endurance training, you may need more than water to rehydrate.

Sports drinks, although sugary, are appropriate for those engaging in intense exercise for over two hours. After two hours, most people run out of glycogen storage in their muscles, and need a little glucose to fuel their workout.

The boost of sugar from sports drinks can help endurance athletes overcome glucose level slumps and replace depleting electrolytes to fuel the rest of their workout.

If you're not training for over two hours but feel like you need a glucose or electrolyte boost after a hard workout, adding a splash of a sports drink to water, or diluting it 50/50 with water, is a wise way to rehydrate without over-loading on sugar. 

3. Coconut Water

juice, water, soda, ice
Sabrina Sadeghian

Like sports drinks, coconut water contains electrolytes, including magnesium, sodium, and phosphorous. It's lower in sugar than most sports drinks, and can be a good alternative for a hydrating beverage before, during, or after medium-intensity exercise. It also contains a particularly high amount of potassium, which is good for hydration and cell recovery post-exercise.

That said, it is lower in sodium than most sports drinks, so if you chose coconut water after high-intensity or prolonged exercise, make sure you get some additional sodium in you from another fluid or snack, or sprinkle in a bit of salt.

4. Water With a Splash of Fruit Juice

juice, sweet, cocktail, orange juice, smoothie, ice, milk, orange squash
Jocelyn Hsu

Although juice isn't the best thing to drink on a regular basis (it's better to eat whole fruits over juice!), adding a splash to your water during or after a low to moderate-intensity workout can give you a little glucose boost and add flavor to entice you to keep drinking.

Certain juices, like orange juice, also contain potassium and calcium, which are important electrolytes. Though not a full spectrum of electrolytes, paired with the right snack, it can help you replenish what you've lost.

5. DIY Sports Drink

sweet, salt, chocolate
Angela Kerndl

If you are feeling dehydrated after a workout but don't have a sports beverage on hand, you can make your own. Combine one teaspoon of salt, six teaspoons of sugar, and one liter of water, mix, and enjoy. A splash of juice will of course help enhance the flavor.

6. Pedialyte

Yup, you read that right. The drink you typically find next to diapers is also good for rehydration after a workout. Pedialyte contains electrolytes, zinc, and a small amount of glucose, making it an ideal beverage to sip on after a sweat session.

7. Oral Rehydration Tablets

For those engaging in strenuous activities who need an electrolyte boost, having some oral rehydration tablets (available at most sporting goods and supplement stores, and many grocery stores), is a smart idea. Simply dissolve them in water and drink up.

8. Electrolyte Water

Some commercially available waters are enhanced with electrolytes, which may help you rehydrate after working out. It's worth noting, however, that some brands add electrolytes for taste and not to help hydration, so they may not be a complete source of electrolytes.

These work great for everyday exercisers, but if you're doing high-intensity, prolonged exercise and need electrolytes and some glucose, a sports drink is a better bet.   

What About Protein Drinks?

coffee, tea
Malia Budd

While protein smoothies and powders may help you fill up after a workout, and you can also count the liquid added to them towards your hydration tally, protein drinks won't necessarily replace all the fluids and electrolytes you need.

If you want to enjoy a protein shake after a workout, go for it. But be sure to get some other fluids and electrolytes, too.

The Bottom Line

water, fish
Spoon University

No two bodies, days, or workouts are exactly alike, and every day requires different amounts of food and water. Listen to your body's needs and try some of the beverages above to stay hydrated post-working out.