You just finished an intense workout, and your heart is pounding; you’re drenched in sweat, and your throat is parched. But this is not the first time it has happened, right? This is your body’s way of telling you that you need more fluids; you need to figure out how to rehydrate fast!
According to the International Olympic Committee, for every kg lost during exercise, you need to consume 1.2 to 1.5 L of water to rehydrate. That means if you lost just 2 kg, you need about 2.5 L of water to replenish the fluids you lost, or you risk dehydration symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, and impaired performance. However, ensure to spread your intake over a few hours—drinking a maximum of 1.35 L per hour—to avoid exercise-associated hyponatremia or water intoxication.
This guide outlines natural and supplemental means of rehydration after an exercise session and dehydration symptoms to look out for.
How to Rehydrate Fast: 4 Methods
Let’s face it: dehydration (either severe or mild dehydration) is no joke. When you’ve pushed your body to the max, the fastest way to feel human again is to restore lost energy and nutrients by drinking fluids.
Consider the following rehydration options to regain lost fluids:
- Sports Drinks
- Fruits & Vegetables
The simplest solution is usually the best when considering what to drink to get hydrated fast. For every kg lost, consume 1.2–1.5 L of plain water over the next few hours — that’s how much water to rehydrate your body. It’s important not to consume too much water at once to avoid the risk of exercise-associated hyponatremia or water intoxication; the CDC recommends a maximum of about 1.35 L per hour.
2. Sports Drinks
For intense activity, sports drinks with electrolytes like HIGH5’s ZERO can help replace what you’ve lost in sweat. The electrolyte content (e.g., sodium, chloride, etc.) enhances fluid absorption, helping you recover faster.
3. Fruits & Vegetables
Eating water-rich foods is an easy way to rehydrate. Have oranges, watermelon, cucumber, spinach or celery on hand — their high water content will add to your fluid intake.
Within a few hours of rehydration using any of these methods, your hydration and electrolyte levels should return to normal, and you can get back to exercising. However, remember to hydrate well in advance next time! Staying properly fuelled is one of the steps to becoming a better runner and attaining peak performance, but how do you know when you’re dehydrated? Let’s find out below.
7 Symptoms of Dehydration: How to Know if You’re Dehydrated
Did you know even just a 1–2% drop in body weight from fluid loss can zap your energy and impact your performance? Yes, that’s how bad dehydration can be, but how do you know you are dehydrated?
Thirst isn’t the only sign of dehydration.
Sure, thirst is an obvious clue you need to rehydrate quickly (but safely); still, don’t rely on it alone. By the time you feel thirsty, you could already be dehydrated.
Watch for these other symptoms instead:
- Dark Yellow or Amber Urine: Clear or light-coloured urine is a good indicator that you’re well-hydrated. As dehydration sets in, urine becomes more concentrated, giving it a darker hue.
- Dizziness or Lightheadedness: Dehydration reduces blood flow, so you may feel dizzy or faint, especially if you stand up quickly.
- Fatigue or Irritability: Dehydration tires you out and can make you grumpy. This is because water is essential for energy and brain function.
- Muscle Cramps: Dehydration causes electrolyte imbalance, which can trigger painful muscle spasms, especially in the legs and feet.
- Dry Mouth: Saliva flow decreases with dehydration, leaving your mouth parched and sticky.
- Headache: Dehydration is a common trigger for migraines and tension headaches, especially after running. This is because water is a key component of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), a clear liquid that helps cushion and protect the brain.
The good news is you can bounce back fast by drinking sufficient amounts of water or an electrolyte drink like the HIGH5 Isotonic Hydration Powder (More on similar rehydration supplements below). For every 1 kg drop in body weight from dehydration, aim to replace it with up to 1.2–1.5 L of fluid. Keep sipping steadily over the first few hours of rehydrating, and you’ll be back to feeling like your usual self in no time.
4 Supplements to Increase Hydration Fast
To rehydrate fast, you need to replenish the fluids and electrolytes lost from your body. Supplements are one of the fastest ways to boost your hydration and get you back to feeling like your normal self.
Here are some of the best rehydration drinks and supplements to boost your water mass:
- Electrolyte Tablets or Powders
- Coconut Water
- Bone Broth
- Water With Lemon
1. Electrolyte Tablets or Powders
Electrolytes like sodium and potassium have several benefits, like maintaining fluid balance, and they hydrate faster than water. Look for electrolyte supplements specifically formulated for hydration and recovery.
Drop a tablet in your water bottle or mix a scoop of powder into your drink, depending on the formula. These provide an optimal balance of electrolytes to accelerate rehydration. Popular choices among athletes include HIGH5 Electrolyte tablets and powders.
2. Coconut Water
Naturally rich in potassium, coconut water is one of the best ways to rehydrate. Low in sugar and calories, it provides 5 essential electrolytes: potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, all with important hydration benefits. For example, the potassium in coconut water helps your cells absorb water and restore fluid balance. For the fastest hydration, go for natural sources with no added sugar and drink around 475 mL (2 cups).
3. Bone Broth
Bone broth is rich in sodium, potassium, magnesium, and other minerals that help restore electrolyte balance. Sipping 235 to 475 mL of warm bone broth helps you rehydrate through the sodium it provides while also giving your gut health a boost. You can either prepare your own formula or choose an organic, low-sodium option from the store.
4. Water With Lemon
For a simple but effective option, drink water mixed with lemon juice. The vitamin C in lemon juice helps your body absorb the water. Lemon also provides potassium, an important electrolyte for hydration and muscle function.
This refreshing drink will hydrate you fast while giving your immune system a boost. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon into 2 litres of water and drink within 30 minutes.
Rehydrating is more than just drinking water. Supplementing with electrolytes, coconut water, bone broth, and lemon water will restore the fluids and minerals your body loses during sports activity. Keep these formulas on hand so you can rehydrate fast and recover after workouts.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the quickest way to rehydrate your body?
Here are the quickest ways to rehydrate your body:
- Consume enough water at a maximum rate of about 1.35 L per hour.
- Consume fruits and veggies rich in water.
- Drink rehydrating fluids before, during, and after exercises.
How to stay hydrated without drinking water?
While water is the most effective way to stay hydrated, there are alternative options.
- Fruits and vegetables with high water content, like watermelon and cucumber, can provide hydration.
- Skim and low-fat milk can be hydrating, too.
Remember, while these options can supplement your hydration needs, it’s still important to include water as your primary source of hydration.
What is the fastest way to cure dehydration?
The fastest way to cure dehydration is by consuming fluids, especially those rich in electrolytes like sports drinks. In cases where regular fluid intake isn’t possible or when experiencing symptoms like dizziness, confusion, or rapid heartbeat, we recommend seeking medical help.
How to stay hydrated in hot weather?
To stay hydrated in hot weather, ensure you drink enough water throughout the day. In addition to water, you can include hydrating foods like fruits and veggies into your diet, as well as sports drinks that contain electrolytes to replenish the salt lost through sweat. Ensure to steer clear of too much alcohol and caffeine when running in hot weather, as they can lead to dehydration.
How to stay hydrated overnight?
To stay hydrated overnight, consider the following tips:
- Limit alcohol intake.
- Consume water occasionally in the last 2 hours before you sleep, and anytime you wake up at night.
- Eat a lot of whole fruits and veggies during the daytime.
- Ensure the room’s temperature is cool enough to avoid sweating.
How to replace salts after sweating?
To replenish the salts and minerals lost after sweating, include foods and sports drinks high in minerals and electrolytes in your diet, such as
- Sodium-rich foods, e.g., salted nuts, Himalayan salt, and crackers.
- Potassium-rich foods, e.g., bananas, citrus fruits, dark leafy greens, and potatoes.
- Magnesium-rich foods, e.g., almonds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, beans, and spinach.
It’s important to maintain a balanced diet that includes these nutrient-rich foods to support proper electrolyte replacement. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalised guidance based on your specific needs and health conditions.
How long does it take to rehydrate your body?
The time it takes to rehydrate your body depends on your level of dehydration and the method of hydration. When you drink a glass (240 mL) of water, it generally takes around 15 minutes for your body to absorb the fluid. However, if you’re already dehydrated, it can take up to 3 times longer (approximately 45 minutes) for the fluids to be absorbed from the stomach into the bloodstream and reach the rest of your body.
You’ve pushed your body to its limits once again, but now it’s time for recovery. We’ve shown you how to rehydrate fast after intense activity and its importance for peak performance.
Remember, rehydrating fast or quick fixes aren't the way to do things moving forward. If you want to be serious about your performance and recovery, ensure that your exercise form, workout routine, nutrition and stretching are on point, as well as your hydration game.
It’s also important to watch out for the different symptoms outlined to avoid slipping into severe dehydration. Consider including a HIGH5 Run Pack in your workout sessions today for optimal hydration levels at all times.