6 Effective Drinks for Athletes

Looking to stay hydrated? Here are six good and inexpensive drink options for various kinds of activity.

Cup of water offered to marathon runners

Ready to find the best hydration drinks to ease your thirst and give you power during workouts, intense training and lengthy sports sessions? Here are some effective and inexpensive options.

Sports Drinks

Sports drinks provide sodium, potassium and a dose of carbohydrates through (hopefully) natural sugars. They help your body absorb water quickly to replace nutrients you lose through sweat. As long as the drink includes carbs and dissolved minerals, just pick a flavor you like. Stay away from sugary fruit drinks, which taste good but are no healthier than soda.

Homemade Juice Drinks

Some of the best hydration drinks can be made at home. Add a tiny amount of fruit juice to a large amount of water for the same carb benefits as a store-bought drink. These simple drinks can give you energy—and they cost less and have fewer calories than the ones you buy at the store.

Green Teas

Green tea has caffeine and plenty of antioxidants. It is easier to drink cold than coffee beverages and it does not have the calorie load of most sports drinks. For best results, make your own green tea and ice it, or, in a pinch, use a pre-mixed green tea powder. Green tea works best for moderate exercise. If you are working on endurance for an hour or more, you may want to add minerals and carbs from another source. Stay away from bottled green teas, which have as much sugar as soda.

Easy Shakes

A little bit of protein powder or chocolate milk can provide great workout hydration. This is another homemade option that is less expensive than a sports drink but provides similar benefits. Shakes have the highest calorie range and provide the most protein and carbs. They're an ideal option for hardcore endurance and lengthy muscle-building sessions.

Coconut Water

Coconut water (not to be confused with coconut milk) gets a lot of attention for its natural sweetness and healthy fats. This makes it a refreshing alternative to sports drinks—although you may find that the price is a little higher, too.


For most physical activity, water is still the least expensive and most effective hydration option. For long workout sessions, though, you may want to add minerals, carbs and caffeine.

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