The 3 Best Hydrating Beverages That Aren’t Water, from a Certified Sports Dietitian

Updated: Jun. 10, 2024

A sports dietitian who has worked with NFL and Major League Baseball players shares her list of the most hydrating drinks for when your body needs them most.

Keeping your body hydrated is key for so much of what your body does. According to Harvard Health, staying hydrated helps to regulate your body temperature, delivers nutrients to your cells, keeps your organs functioning properly, lubricates your joints, helps to prevent infections and even improves sleep, cognition, and mood. Hydration is also important after a workout, since your body loses fluid as you sweat. Drinking a hydrating beverage post-workout is important for replenishing the body with fluids you just lost, while also maintaining normal body function and assisting with muscle recovery.

While water is usually the go-to when you’re thirsty—and rightfully so, since it’s great for you—it isn’t the only beverage that will hydrate you and benefit your body post-workout. Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics who has worked with teams like the Texas Rangers and Dallas Cowboys (as well as the author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook), shares three alternative hydrating drinks you can enjoy that will also aid your muscles and even give you a nutritional boost.

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Cow’s milk

“Did you know that milk is approximately 90% water? This makes it an excellent source of hydration,” Goodson says. Milk also contains potassium, which is “an important electrolyte for hydration and muscle function.” (So that explains why sometimes, nothing quenches thirst like a glass of milk does!)

Along with its hydration benefits, milk contains 13 essential nutrients—such as calcium, vitamin D (good for bone health), selenium (a powerful antioxidant), B vitamins, and some very healthy protein“Because of its high-quality protein content, milk and chocolate milk are superior sources of hydration post-workout as well,” Goodson says.

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Smoothies made with cow’s milk, Greek yogurt, fruit and even vegetables actually provide a variety of sources of hydration,” says Goodson. “[Because] milk provides lots of nutrients, it’s a great base for a smoothie.”

Similar to milk, fruit and vegetables have high water content that amps up the hydration of the smoothie. Smoothies like the ones offered by reHarvest, for example, are loaded with good-for-you, hydrating ingredients such as goji berries and spinach.

“Plus, they’re packed with nutrients and antioxidants,” says Goodson. “Milk, yogurt, Medjool dates, strawberries and bananas are all high in potassium.” Drop ’em in!

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Sports drinks

“If you are an athlete, a heavy exerciser, or work outside, sports drinks are a great source of hydration for you,” says Goodson. “They provide sodium and potassium, which are the main electrolytes lost in sweat.”

Electrolytes in the body are important for moving water and nutrients to parts of the body where they are needed while maintaining fluid balance within your body’s cells. Sports drinks with electrolytes help to replenish what was lost during a workout, keeping your body hydrated.

“[Sports drinks] also provide carbohydrates, which is necessary for workouts lasting well longer than 90 minutes,” she says. “If you aren’t exerting as much energy, but sweat a lot, choose a lower-calorie sports drink that still contains electrolytes.”

Another tip? Watch out for added sugar—the less, the better. Also beware of a list of synthetic ingredients, as chemicals and dyes aren’t ideal for your wellness.

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