- Proper hydration is essential for runners, as during intense running sessions, your body loses water, electrolytes, and other minerals.
- A good running drink should contain essential electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, and, of course, plenty of water.
- Regular sports drinks often contain too much sugar, flavour agents, and other artificial ingredients, so many athletes opt for other beverage options. These include FUL® sparkling spirulina drinks, vegetable juices and smoothies, plain or homemade flavoured water, salted water, maple water, coconut water, coffee, energy gels, tart cherry juice, beet juice, chocolate milk, and green tea.
These days running seems to be an integral part of most people’s mourning routines. This sport has an immense fanbase consisting of millions of dedicated runners, while also an equally substantial avid hate group who do not seem to find running such an enjoyable activity, especially in poor weather conditions. While you can be either in love with this sport or resent running in all its forms, you certainly can’t deny its benefits to your well-being and physical and mental health: it improves your cardiovascular system, makes your heart stronger and more resilient, enhances the production of bone-building hormones, helps increase body strength and build muscle, helps you to burn more calories, fights off stress, increases your self-confidence, and instantly improves your mood, ensuring you get a proper a boost of energy for the whole day. Isn’t it incredible how only a 30-minute run every morning can change your life and body?
However, for your exercise to be highly efficient, you need to put all your efforts into it and meet a few key requirements, such as staying hydrated all throughout the activity and nourishing your body with electrolytes. However, accomplishing this task might be quite tricky since, along with sweat, our body loses water, energy, and said electrolytes. To preserve these elements, renew energy, and ensure fast muscle recovery, you need to ensure that your body stays hydrated and gets all the necessary nutrients before, during, and after your running session. Most runners use sports drinks to achieve this goal.
Sports drinks, otherwise known as electrolyte drinks, are functional drinks intended to replace the electrolytes, water, and energy you lose during a workout. They provide your body with water, electrolytes, and energy (calories) that comes from sugar. These beverages can be consumed throughout the whole workout before, during, and after training. It is also claimed that these drinks increase endurance and enhance one’s performance.
Sports drinks seem like a perfect addition to your running sessions, right? However, nothing is perfect after all. Since sports drinks contain lots of sugar, they have lots of calories too.
So if you want to lose some weight, these beverages are not the best option for you.
Plus, some scientists believe that sports drinks may cause gastrointestinal problems. Doesn’t sound so perfect anymore, does it? But don’t you worry, not all hope is lost. We’ve got some great news for you: there are plenty of healthy, sugar-free alternatives to sports drinks for runners. Keep reading to find out all about healthy beverages you can consume and benefit from during your running sessions.
Which Vitamins and Nutrients Do I Need To Improve My Running?
Your nutrition is key to your health and, thus, to your performance. It can increase your speed, improve your endurance, fuel you with energy, and even reduce the pain you might experience during training. Still, if the food and beverages you consume don’t contain essential nutrients beneficial for your health but instead are filled with hazardous chemicals, it can cause harm to your body and prevent you from achieving your goals.
Below is a list of vitamins and minerals you should definitely include in your diet if you want to achieve your running goals and stay healthy:
- Electrolytes - These vital minerals help your body stay hydrated throughout the whole training. However, they go beyond that. Electrolytes assist your body in maintaining blood pressure and facilitate nerve signalling, muscle contraction as well as heart contraction, and help with many other bodily processes. They also help to keep your joints lubricated during the training and preserve your energy, preventing exhaustion caused by dehydration. You can find electrolytes in many sports drinks, energy drinks, and in FUL’s® refreshing spirulina-based sparkling drinks.
- Vitamin A - This vitamin keeps your skin healthy and improves your eyesight, so a short run in the evening or at night won’t be a problem for you if you get enough of this nutrient.
- Vitamin B12 - This vitamin helps your body turn the proteins and fat you consume into energy. It also helps your body produce new red blood cells that are responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body.
- Calcium - Calcium is responsible for maintaining the health of your bones and teeth.
- Choline - This nutrient regulates your metabolism, muscle control, mood, and memory and helps you focus. Healthy consumption of choline can also increase your endurance, meaning you’ll get less tired than usual during your training sessions.
- Vitamin C - This vitamin protects your body from free radicals caused by UV radiation, pollution, and cigarette smoke. It also helps boost the production of collagen to keep your skin smooth and healthy.
- Vitamin D - Vitamin D helps calcium absorb better into your bones, strengthens your muscles, and protects you from viruses and infections. A 2020 study discovered that athletes suffering from vitamin D deficiency might be more inclined to various diseases, stress fractures, and suboptimal muscular function.
- Vitamin E - It strengthens your body’s immune system, helps to fight off bacteria and viruses, serves as a potent anti-inflammatory agent, and keeps blood vessels pliable and wide.
- Fibre - Fibre reduces cholesterol levels in our bodies, helps your body maintain healthy body weight, and controls the level of sugar in the blood.
- Iron - Iron carries oxygen in the blood from your lungs to your muscles.
- Magnesium - Just like calcium, this nutrient helps to maintain tooth and bone health.
- Omega-3 fatty acids - These nutrients reduce post-workout inflammation, which can enhance tissue repair and ease muscle discomfort during training.
- Potassium- This electrolyte maintains optimal muscular function, helps your body to retain fluid, and contributes to normal muscle contractions. Interestingly, potassium is also considered to be the second most potent electrolyte after sodium.
- Selenium - This antioxidant maintains thyroid function, controls metabolism, reduces pain during training, and can even lessen post-workout oxidative cell damage.
- Sodium - This electrolyte helps to maintain proper fluid and electrolyte balance in your body and prevents muscle cramps during runs.
- Zinc - This mineral enhances the function of your immune system, improves your skin appearance, making it healthy and resilient, promotes wound healing, and turns carbohydrates into energy. If you don’t get enough zinc, you might be more prone to the overtraining syndrome.
Top 14 Best Hydration Drinks For Runners
#1 FUL® Sparkling Spirulina Drinks
One bottle of FUL® a day will keep you energised all day. FUL’s® main ingredient is a blue-green algae called spirulina, which has long been considered one of the most potent sources of nourishment on the planet. Our team of leading food scientists and ardent environmentalists worked hard on developing this drink and, in the process, found a very sustainable way to extract the nutrients present in spirulina while also eliminating the algae’s specific taste.
FUL® tastes great and makes you feel good on the inside. Due to the unique combination of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids in the beverage, FUL® enhances your power and speed during training.
The calcium present in FUL® beverages increases bone density and helps to improve the digestion process, whereas vitamin B2 and iron boost concentration levels and help your body convert food into fuel, bringing you a new burst of natural energy. Iron is also responsible for maintaining several vital functions in your body, such as producing haemoglobin and some hormones. Thanks to the presence of magnesium, FUL® sparkling drinks contribute to muscle regeneration, support the immune system, and improve nerve function.
Furthermore, FUL® beverages are known to help maintain normal blood pressure levels and replenish electrolytes as part of your post-workout hydration routine. FUL® is an ideal choice for your running sessions, and we’re certain that once you try it, it will quickly become one of your favourite beverages. Plus, FUL® drinks provide an awesome way for you to include spirulina in your child’s diet as well since it doesn’t have an unpleasant taste, unlike spirulina powder and tablets. Treat yourself to a tasty, healthy, high-quality beverage and enjoy an instant boost of energy with FUL®.
When it comes to running, staying hydrated is one of the most important things you need to take into consideration. Hydration has a great impact on a runner’s performance and health. Our body temperature is regulated by water, and the liquid is also responsible for flushing out waste, cushioning our joints, and helping our body transport energy to our cells. Proper hydration will result in better performance and faster recovery. It also helps to minimise cramping and damage caused to the muscles during the workout session. Calorie-free and pure, water is one of the best hydration sources out there. So grab a bottle of H2O and enjoy your run.
#3 Flavoured water
It should come as no surprise that when one is running, their body requires much more water. But not everyone is a fan of this liquid. Well, you can’t blame them - consuming up to 2,5 litres of water every day might seem pretty boring, to say the least. Juices are a great alternative, however, some people might feel that these drinks are too high in fructose. In that case, we suggest trying homemade flavoured water. All you need to do is add some flavoured syrup, fruit, or herbs to regular water and shake or stir the mixture. This will add some flavour to water, making it much tastier but equally healthy and beneficial for you.
#4 Water with a pinch of salt
If you’re not into sweet beverages or just crave something salty for a change, we have a solution for you too. Before heading out to your running session, add a teaspoon of salt to your water bottle. The sodium found in your drink will improve your cardiovascular system as well as your performance. So grab a bottle and hurry up to catch the best running weather.
#5 Coconut water
The transparent liquid inside the coconut, known as coconut water, has a tangy, delicate almond-like flavour and is devoid of fat present in coconut milk. Coconut water has much more potassium (670 milligrams) than sports drinks, but, at the same time, it contains much less sugar (11 ounces of coconut water contain 14 grams of sugar). When mixed with salt, potassium helps you to maintain water balance and triggers your muscles to contract and relax appropriately. Although coconut water provides a substantial amount of carbs that will get you through an hour-long run, keep in mind there is not enough sodium in this liquid for a prolonged hydration and nourishment effect.
#6 Maple water
This beverage is less famous than coconut water but equally as healthy. Maple water is essentially sap extracted from a maple tree, and unlike other staps, it has a thinner, more watery texture. This drink has only 15 calories per 8 ounces, contains various minerals, and has no syrupy taste, being rather faintly sweet. Plus, maple water offers quite a few health benefits. It helps you to maintain hydration and energy levels and speeds up your body’s recovery after a workout due to the presence of antioxidants and improves your performance.
#7 Coconut shake
Due to the high levels of carbohydrates, electrolytes, and protein, this beverage is a great addition to any post-run nutrition regimen. To make eleven ounces of coconut shake, you’ll need one 11-ounce jar of coconut water, one cup of cherry juice, one scoop of vanilla or unflavored protein powder, half a cup of frozen strawberries, and one banana. Then you’ll have to blend all the ingredients together until the texture becomes completely smooth. The coconut shake has 440 calories, but at the same time, it provides you with 27 g of pure protein, 70 g of carbs, and only 2 g of fat.
#8 Tart cherry juice
If you or one of your friends has a tart cherry tree growing on the property, do not even think about cutting it. Instead, collect the harvest and make tart cherry juice! Cherries have more potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects than any other kind of fruit. Not only is this juice delicious, but it’s also very healthy and beneficial, especially for runners.
The antioxidants found in cherries reduce oxidative stress, inflammation, and muscle damage caused by long-running sessions and improve blood flow. They also speed up post-workout recovery. We recommend drinking one cup of tart cherry juice after you’re finished with your daily running session, especially if you’ve put all your strength and power into it. However, don’t forget that tart cherry juice is not as light as tap water - one cup of this juice contains 130 calories and approximately 30 grams of natural sugar.
Tip: Tart cherry juice is a bit tart, as the name suggests. Thus, it’s not everyone’s favourite drink. So if you don’t like drinking it, try mixing it with other 100% fruit juices. This blend will be much sweeter than just a tart cherry juice.
#9 Beet juice
Do you know what a beet says to its lover? You make my heart beet faster. And your heart will beat faster when you hear about all the benefits this vegetable has to offer! Beets are high in all sorts of powerful antioxidants, such as carotenoids, vitamin C, flavonoids, and phenolic acids, as well as nitric oxide, a chemical that can improve blood vessel health. According to numerous studies, nitrate-rich vegetables benefit both physical and mental health, and beets are one of these vegetables. Nitric oxide can improve lung function, strengthen muscular contractions, and boost blood flow. Many athletes implement beet juice supplements into their diet to increase their cardiorespiratory endurance and improve their muscular function and, thus, their performance.
#10 Other vegetable juices and smoothies
Do you remember your mom telling you how vegetables are good for your body? Well, she was one hundred per cent right, and you should listen to her. Vegetables are packed with various nutrients and vitamins, and they are rich in protein and antioxidants, just like the juices made from the said vegetables. A simple yet tasty and healthy two-veggie smoothie can easily fulfil your daily fibre requirement. Tomatoes, for example, contain a large amount of the antioxidant called lycopene, which protects muscles from oxidative stress brought on by exercise. Some juices have 13–17 times the potassium and three-five times the salt of sports drinks, which makes vegetable juice an excellent addition to a post-run meal or snack. However, not all juice brands are beneficial for your health. Before purchasing a particular juice or smoothie, check the sugar content to make sure it’s not too high.
#11 Chocolate milk
You might be quite surprised by this one, but we are not joking: chocolate milk, aka everyone’s favourite childhood drink, offers an optimum ratio of carbohydrates and protein needed for faster muscle regeneration. Research conducted by Joel Stager, the director of the department of kinesiology at Indiana University, has shown that a cup of chocolate milk consumed after a particularly tiring running session can do miracles, as the beverage enhances muscle recovery and increases one’s endurance better than sports drinks. A 2007 British study claimed regular cow’s milk does a better job at replenishing fluid levels in the body than water or sports drinks. This is not to mention the benefits calcium and vitamin D present in milk have on our bones.
#12 Green tea with honey
If you’re looking for a healthy beverage that will not only quench your thirst but also improve your health and protect your body from diseases, green tea is an awesome option to drink during or after a running session. This beverage helps to prevent cancer and heart disease due to catechins, a group of antioxidants that are abundant in green tea. Research studies suggest that catechins can both speed up post-workout recovery and reduce muscle damage.
Another study showed that people who exercised and drank about five cups of green tea every day for three months shed more belly fat than those who only worked out. To keep yourself refreshed on hot days, add some ice to your tea. You can also mix tea with a bit of honey which will increase your speed thanks to the potassium present in it. We also recommend steeping tea bags for at least three minutes before drinking, which will help to release more catechins. And one more tip we have for you: try to avoid adding too much sugar into your tea to prevent consuming too many calories. If you choose to purchase bottled tea, avoid brands with more than 15 grams of sugar per eight ounces.
A morning cup of coffee can save your day. A morning cup of coffee before a running session can make your run an amazing experience. Coffee, or any form of caffeine for that matter, helps to increase one’s speed, endurance, and energy while decreasing fatigue and discomfort associated with running. A few cups of coffee before a run can boost your mental agility, making you feel more awake and thus present throughout the run. It’s also well-known that many endurance athletes and runners take advantage of caffeine supplements, such as espresso or energy drinks on race days before starting their runs. To make the best of your running session, we recommend taking about 5 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of your body weight.
#14 Energy gels
Energy gels are a go-to for marathon runners. They replace your body’s depleted carbohydrate resources while also nourishing your body with essential electrolytes and minerals, which improves your performance even more. But why energy gels and not sports drinks? Because of the concentration. Energy gels contain less water, which is why they are much more concentrated. Plus, it’s easier for your body to digest them while also keeping running at the same time.
If you are not a fan of sports drinks for running and are looking for an alternative, there are plenty of options for all tastes and budgets out there. Salty or sweet, fruity or not, something to increase your speed or to nourish your body with nutrients - regardless of your needs and preferences, you will find an option you’ll love.
And don’t forget to try out our healthy and eco-friendly FUL® sparkling spirulina drinks, which are packed chock-full of nutrients and minerals. FUL® is an ideal choice for those who are looking for a tasty and healthy beverage that brings all the benefits of spirulina without any of its foul smell. Plus, it's pre-made in a bottle or can, so you can just grab it before or after your run. Try FUL® now, and you won’t regret it!
What is the best hydration for runners?
Energy gels, sports drinks, FUL® spirulina drinks, iced tea, fruit and vegetable juices, coconut water, milk, and plain water - there are plenty of options for runners who are looking for a hydration source. Everything depends on the duration of your running session, its intensity, and your preferences. Plain water is an excellent choice if your running session lasts for less than an hour. If, however, you’re planning on running hard for more than an hour, beverages with maltodextrin (a slow-release carbohydrate), sodium, or sugar will help your body recover much faster.
Should I drink electrolytes after a run?
You definitely should. Electrolytes are the minerals that help hydrate your body, retain fluid inside of it during training, and rehydrate it after workouts. Thus, drinking electrolytes is necessary before, during, and after running sessions.
What’s the most hydrating drink?
A 2007 British study has proven that milk is, so far, the most hydrating drink there is. It has been proven to be much better at restoring fluid levels than sports drinks or regular water.