Different Types of Fluid for Hydration

The male body is made up of approximately 60 percent water and female body 50 percent water so it is extremely important to replenish that fluid. This is especially important for athletes who are continuously training, racing and recovering. Here are different types of fluids used for hydration. Discover which are the best suited for you!


Water is second only to air for survival; it assists the body with many things such as regulating temperature, lubricating joints and transporting nutrients and waste throughout the body.

  • Water alone lacks electrolytes, potassium and sodium but it isn’t necessary to replace these unless you are exercising for prolonged periods such as over 2 hours, or if there is excessive heat. If water is your drink of choice as you increase your training, it may be beneficial to consume electrolyte-rich foods such as avocado, seafood, olives, and table salt.

Sports drinks

  • Electrolyte sports drink is 4-8 percent solution of carbohydrate and electrolytes. If used with endurance exercise over 60 minutes, it can aid in maintenance of blood sugar and supports hydration, but if less than 60 minutes, the effects are negligible in comparison to water.

  • “Super starch” beverage is cornstarch treated with a heat moisture process that alters the metabolism of starch in the body intending to prevent the “crash” phenomenon and to breakdown increased fat during exercise and recovery. Exercise must be prolonged such as 2-4 hours (at a minimum 120 minutes for results).

  • Caffeinated sports drink contains caffeine which is a stimulant, not a nutrient, which claims to increase energy. This product does not give muscles energy or help with hydration. It can improve performance for high-intensity (3 to 10 seconds), prevent exhaustion, and improve mood but this is attributed to decreased perceived exertion. More does not mean better performance.

  • Coconut water is clear liquid from young coconuts as it claims to be more natural with increased potassium and mineral content. There has been no difference shown between this, a conventional sports drink, or water. It does not have carbohydrates or sodium for prolonged exercise (more than 2 hours).

  • Combination carbohydrate and protein drinks are approximately 7 percent carbohydrate and half a percent protein. Ingesting protein during exercise has been shown to improve muscle recovery and reduce post-exercise soreness, even during a 30 minute window. Adding protein does not necessarily increase uptake of carbohydrates for endurance while exercising.

Chocolate milk

  • Chocolate milk has double the carbohydrates and protein of your average sports drink, which is best as a post workout hydration drink. It is an optimal combination of protein to carbohydrate ratio, making this essential for repairing muscle and restoring glycogen, your muscle’s fuel.


  • Many foods are high in water content that you can add to your diet to continue hydrating! Celery, watermelon, bell peppers, cucumbers, strawberries, cantaloupe, lettuce, tomato and broccoli are all 89 percent or more water. Don’t forget coffee, low-fat milk, oatmeal, low-fat yogurt and ice cream, which are also high in water content.

Megan Check is an occupational therapist with ThedaCare Orthopedic Care. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a child and youth emphasis from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a master’s degree in occupational therapy from UW-Madison. She is a registered occupational therapist and licensed in the state of Wisconsin.