Optimizing the restoration and maintenance of fluid balance after exercise-induced dehydration

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2017 Apr 1;122(4):945-951. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00745.2016. Epub 2017 Jan 26.


Hypohydration, or a body water deficit, is a common occurrence in athletes and recreational exercisers following the completion of an exercise session. For those who will undertake a further exercise session that day, it is important to replace water losses to avoid beginning the next exercise session hypohydrated and the potential detrimental effects on performance that this may lead to. The aim of this review is to provide an overview of the research related to factors that may affect postexercise rehydration. Research in this area has focused on the volume of fluid to be ingested, the rate of fluid ingestion, and fluid composition. Volume replacement during recovery should exceed that lost during exercise to allow for ongoing water loss; however, ingestion of large volumes of plain water results in a prompt diuresis, effectively preventing longer-term maintenance of water balance. Addition of sodium to a rehydration solution is beneficial for maintenance of fluid balance due to its effect on extracellular fluid osmolality and volume. The addition of macronutrients such as carbohydrate and protein can promote maintenance of hydration by influencing absorption and distribution of ingested water, which in turn effects extracellular fluid osmolality and volume. Alcohol is commonly consumed in the postexercise period and may influence postexercise rehydration, as will the coingestion of food. Future research in this area should focus on providing information related to optimal rates of fluid ingestion, advisable solutions to ingest during different duration recovery periods, and confirmation of mechanistic explanations for the observations outlined.

Keywords: alcohol; carbohydrate; protein; rehydration; sodium.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dehydration / metabolism
  • Dehydration / physiopathology*
  • Drinking / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Fluid Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Rehydration Solutions / metabolism
  • Water / metabolism
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance / physiology*


  • Rehydration Solutions
  • Water