Hydration beverages: How to choose your drink

Choosing the right beverage to keep you hydrated and in fighting shape can be a challenge. Many ready-to-drink products on the market claim they “perform” better than the rest. However, some fall short on the key components you need to rehydrate, recover, and refuel. Find out which beverages best fit your performance needs.

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Published on: November 27, 2020


  • Plain or carbonated
  • Zero calories
  • For exercise less than 60 minutes
  • All-day hydration (before, during, and after exercise)
  • Add lemon, cucumber, or mint to enhance flavor


  • Plain or flavored low-fat milk or milk alternative
  • For recovery after intense or long workouts
  • After more than 60 minutes of exercise
  • Some milk alternatives are good options if you're lactose intolerant (but protein content varies)

Sports Drinks

  • Optimal sports drinks contain, per 8 fluid ounces...
    • Carbs: 10-20 g
    • Sodium: 80-160 mg
    • Potassium: 20-45 mg
  • For exercise more than 60 minutes, especially in high heat and humidity
  • Avoid sports drinks with caffeine or excess carbs
  • Avoid sports drinks with too much or too little of the nutrients above

"Enhanced" Beverages

  • Many "enhanced" beverages contain...
    • Caffeine
    • Excess carbs
    • CBD or hemp - prohibited for use by Military Service Members
  • Often lack sufficient sodium and potassium needed for hydration
  • Consume in moderation - can contain excess calories
  • Read the label: Watch out for questionable health claims and ingredients you're not sure about
  • Extra vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, herbals, or botanicals might NOT provide extra benefit

Electrolyte Waters

  • Most electrolyte waters contain...
    • Water
    • Added electrolytes
  • Usually not the best choice for hydration
  • Often lack sufficient sodium and potassium needed for hydration
  • Avoid electrolyte waters with caffeine or excess carbs


The above include only ready-to-drink products that have a Nutrition Facts label. They do not include powders, tablets, drops, or other hydration products that carry a Supplement Facts label.

USU: Uniformed Services University | CHAMP: Consortium for Health and Military Performance

Human Performance Resources by CHAMP | HPRC-online.org


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