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From the National Federation of State High School Associations

What to Drink for Sports, What Not to Drink

Hydrate Before Sports, Re-Hydrate During and After Sports, Says NFHS

What not to drink during sports

  • Fruit juices with greater than 8 percent carbohydrate content and soda can both result in a bloated feeling and abdominal cramping.
  • Carbonated beverages, beverages containing caffeine, alcoholic beverages, should not to be consumed because of the high risk of dehydration associated with excess urine production, or decreased voluntary fluid intake.
  • Athletes should be aware that nutritional supplements are not limited to pills and powders; many of the new energy drinks on the market contain stimulants such as caffeine and/or ephedrine. These stimulants may increase the risk of heart or heat illness problems when exercising. 
  • Many of these drinks are being produced by traditional water, soft drink,  and sports drink companies.  As is true with other forms of supplements energy drinks or fluid supplements are not regulated by the FDA.  Thus, the purity and accuracy of contents on the label are not guaranteed.  
  • Many of the beverages which claim to provide additional power, energy, etc., have additional ingredients that are not necessary, some that are potentially harmful, and some that are substances actually banned by such governing bodies as the NCAA and the United States Olympic Committee. 

Hydration tips and fluid guidelines

In general, an athlete does not voluntarily drink sufficient water to prevent dehydration during physical activity so that by the time she becomes thirsty, she is already dehydrated. It is therefore important for athletes to drink before, during, and after practices and games.

Thus, the American College of Sports Medicine specifically recommends athletes:

  • Drink 16 ounces of fluid 2 hours before exercise.
  • Drink another 8 to 16 ounces 15 minutes before exercise.
  • Drink 4 to 16 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise.
  • Drink 24 ounces of fluid after exercise for every pound lost during  exercise in order to return to full hydration within 6 hours.

The volume and color of your child's urine is an excellent way of determining if he is well hydrated. Large amounts of clear urine mean your child is hydrated, small amounts of dark urine mean that he needs to drink more!  For a urine color chart, click here.  

The NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee strongly recommends that coaches, certified athletic trainers, physicians, and other school personnel working with athletes not provide or encourage use of any beverages for hydration of these youngsters other than water and appropriate sports drinks that meet the above criteria.  They should also make information available to parents and athletes on the potential harm and lack of benefit associated with energy drinks. 

Source: National Federation of State High School Associations 


Casa DJ, Armstrong LE, Hillman SK, Montain SJ, Reiff RV, Rich BSE, Roberts WO, Stone JA. National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement:  Fluid Replacement for Athletes.  Journal of Athletic Training. 35(2):212-224, 2000.  

McKeag DB, Moeller JL. ACSM’s Primary Care Sports Medicine. 2nd Ed, Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2007.

Current as of July 28, 2016