5 Things You Should Not Drink When Walking

Hydration Advice for Walking Workouts

Are you confused about what you should and shouldn't drink for your walking workouts? Are you tempted to try a sports drink or a bubbly beverage during your next fitness session?

Exercise guidelines suggest that you should drink when thirsty. While water is often the best choice, there are other options available.

For example, some experts suggest that when you exercise intensely for more than an hour or work out in high heat, you should consider drinking an electrolyte (salt) replacement sports drink. And there are products on the market that claim to provide additional benefits, like vitamins or minerals.

While you you shouldn't force fluids, you can aim to consume a cup of fluid every mile or every 30 minutes. You don't have to stick to water, but there are certain beverages that some people should avoid before, during, and immediately after walking for exercise.


Untreated Water

drinking and walking

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Water in a lake, stream, or spring may look beautiful, but you shouldn't drink it. In many places, nasty parasites such as Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium are found in "unspoiled" water sources. These parasites infest the local squirrels and other animals, who then contaminate the water.

In fact, The Centers for Disease Control cautions campers, hikers, and travelers against drinking water that is not filtered. Infection from parasites can lead to weeks or even months of treatment. If you are going for a hike, carry a water filter or purification tablets and do not drink untreated water from any natural source.


Alcoholic Beverages

Considering a cold brew to refresh yourself during a walk? You should probably consider a different option. Alcoholic beverages will make you more dehydrated. Drinking alcohol can also impair your athletic ability, coordination, balance, and judgment. And if that is not enough, it can also make you more prone to heat sickness and other problems.

To ensure a healthy and safe walk, it is a good practice to abstain from alcohol during and before a big event like a charity walk or other fitness event. Skip the adult beverages the night before and hydrate with water instead. Save the celebratory drink for after your walk and after you have fully rehydrated.



Drinking caffeinated beverages can be a double-edged sword during a walk. Research has shown that caffeine can enhance exercise performance by making workouts feel more tolerable. In fact, as part of a position stand on caffeine, the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) has even stated that it provides benefits to trained athletes when consumed in amounts ranging from three to six milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight.

However, drinking caffeine has substantial drawbacks, as well. For example, you may need to urinate more often, you might experience gastrointestinal distress, headaches, or jitters. However, these side effects are more likely to occur if you consume too much caffeine.

If you find yourself making too many restroom stops, you may want to limit your caffeine intake to see if it is causing the problem. Stick to decaffeinated beverages or drink as little of the caffeinated stuff as possible before your walk. Keep in mind, however, that coffee drinkers can get a headache if they go cold turkey, so experiment with how little you really need.


Dairy Products

Some people tolerate dairy products well. But others are lactose intolerant and experience stomach cramps, gas, nausea, and diarrhea from milk and milk products. Even if you are not lactose intolerant, consuming dairy before or during a workout has been known to cause stomach problems in certain athletes.

If you've ever experienced gastrointestinal distress from dairy, avoid milk products for at least 12 hours before your walk. If you have no problems with milk, indulge in chocolate milk after you exercise. Studies have shown that the balance of carbohydrate and protein in the beverage provides effective nutrition for post-workout recovery.


Carbonated Beverages

Many walkers report gas, belching, and stomach cramps from drinking carbonated drinks when walking. If you experience any of these symptoms, save the bubbly beverages for after your walk. However, if you enjoy sparkling water, there are no medical reasons not to consume it.

There have been a few (not many) studies comparing the benefits of sparkling beverages to non-carbonated beverages during exercise. Researchers have investigated whether or not adding bubbles to a beverage affects the volume of fluid consumed. The limited studies have found no relationship between carbonation and drink consumption.

Keep in mind, however, that there are practical considerations to take into account. Walking with a carbonated beverage in your bag may lead to a disaster when you pop to the top to consume it. Preventing a fizzy shower may be a smart reason to opt for flat water instead.

Keep in mind that while drinking fluids during exercise is important, drinking too much can cause problems as well. Studies of slower marathon runners and run/walkers have shown that some of these athletes experience hyponatremia—or water intoxication. The condition occurs when too much water or fluid is consumed and causes sodium levels in the blood to drop.

You can use a water calculator to get an idea of how much water to drink during exercise. If walking for more than an hour and sweating, you should replace the salt lost in your sweat with an electrolyte-replacement sports drink such as Gatorade or Powerade, or with a snack that contains salt such as mini pretzels or trail mix that includes salted nuts.

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