A sports drink won't make you run faster or jump higher—it'll merely replenish fluids and nutrients you lose while sweating. But there are beverages that really do have a training effect. Sip water as you work out (dehydration can slow you down), and try these other drinks for real results.
How much: 2½ cups
Best time to sip: Every day for a week leading up to (as well as the day of) any athletic event like a race.
Beverage benefits: Endurance athletes who drank cherry juice before running a marathon felt less pain afterward than those who didn't. Phytochemicals in the drink appear to ease inflammation.
Best time to sip: Right after strength-training
How much: 2 to 4 cups
Beverage benefits: The protein in the milk helps repair muscles you've exerted. The calcium and vitamin D strengthen bones and may help you lose more fat.
Best time to sip: Daily, including right before a workout
How much: 3 to 4 cups
Beverage benefits: The caffeine in green tea will help you work out longer. You'll also shed more fat, thanks to compounds called catechins, which increase fat burn, especially during aerobic exercise.
How much: Add ½ teaspoon grated ginger to 8 ounces of lemonade
Best time to sip: Daily
Beverage benefits: Ginger, which contains anti-inflammatory compounds, has been found to ease postworkout muscle soreness by up to 25%.
How much: Daily, especially before a workout
Best time to sip: Drink 3 to 4 cups prior to a workout
Beverage benefits: Caffeine can increase endurance and delay fatigue—helping you exercise longer and stronger.
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