Drink Up: The 24-Hour Plan To Stay Hydrated

By Jessica Poole, Certified Athletic Trainer

With the weather warming up, it’s nice to go outdoors and play. From workouts to working outdoors, our bodies need to adapt and prepare for the heat and humidity. Today I want to share with you a hydration protocol supported by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. Throughout the protocol I will provide you with some tips on how to make hydration happen. It may seem hard, but I promise, you will feel much better during and after your activity. So here goes…

Hydration should occur over a 24 hour period of time. I like to begin tracking post-workout for two reasons. 

One is so I know how much fluid I need to replace after my workout.
Two, I will be fully hydrated and fueled for my next workout session.

When it is hot and humid I weigh myself before and after my workout and keep track of the amount of fluid I lose. You cannot and will not lose three pounds of fat weight during a single workout. But you can lose up to 5-7 pounds of fluid weight during a workout on a very hot and humid day.  So after working out, you want to replenish what was lost. For every pound lost, you need to drink about 24 ounces of fluid. This will be included in the following hydration guide…

The 24-Hour Plan

This is a 24-hour plan that begins immediately after exercise to the end of the next workout.

Diet is key. Make sure you are eating a lean diet filled with foods that have a high water content (oranges, melons, vegetables, etc)
Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they tend to encourage water loss.

Average adult needs 64-80 ounces (8-10 glasses) of water every 24 hours

Plus, another 64 ounces minimum per day due to sweating/activity in hot and humid conditions. (Note: 64 ounces is basically 1 gallon or 4 liters)

Hydration after exercise
Optimally, begin to replace your fluids lost within two hours after exercise
Drink 20-24 ounces of water/sports drink per pound of weight loss
For maximum hydration and energy replenishment consume a carbohydrate drink (sports drink) within 20 minutes. Within two hours have a meal high in protein and carbohydrates. Now would be a good time for a meal and a glass of milk. Milk is loaded with protein, carbs and healthy fats. No dairy? No problem. Try soy, almond or cashew milk.

Throughout the rest of your day consume fluids that appeal with the majority being water. The occasional cup of coffee, sweet tea or cola is okay in my book (I’m an addicted sweet-tea-drinking southern belle) but some will disagree and I can agree with that, but I love my Coca Cola…

Hydration prior to activity
2-3 hours before drink 17-20 ounces of water or sports drink         
10-20 minutes before drink another 7-10 ounces

Hydration during activity
Drink before you are thirsty. If you wait until you are thirsty you are well on your way to becoming dehydrated.
Every 10-20 minutes drink at least 7-10 ounces

And that’s it. Hydration made simple. Try to keep a water bottle handy. I like to add flavor to my water to help me drink more. Adding simple fruit or vegetables to my water adds enough flavor for me (I love strawberries, apples, grapes, blackberries and lemon. I freeze them all in a bag and add throughout the day. They keep it cold). I will also make and keep cucumber juice in my fridge. It lends a nice refreshing flavor to my hydration plan. Coconut water is a fantastic hydrator as well, with tons of elecrolytes. I also like flavor in my water when I work out, so I will often dilute my sports drink. I also sweat a lot and lose a lot of salt, so the sports drink works well for me. You will need to experiment and find what works for you.

Good luck hydrating and stay healthy my friends.


Casa, D. J., Armstrong, L. E., Hillman, S. K., Montain, S. J., Reiff, R. V., Rich, B. S., ... & Stone, J. A. (2000). National Athletic Trainers' Association position statement: fluid replacement for athletes. Journal of athletic training, 35(2), 212.

Ryan, M. (2002). Sports nutrition for endurance athletes. VeloPress.


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