3 Disadvantages of Drinking Water During Exercise

Now I’m going to start this off by saying that drinking water during exercise isn’t all bad. But sometimes, there can be serious problems with it.

In fact, I was drinking TOO MUCH water while I was working out that it was just messing me up mentally and physically, it was terrible for my health.

So, just a preface- drinking water isn’t bad. And it’s always safer to drink more water than less, as the effects of dehydration can be pretty bad.

Most people are actually pretty dehydrated and have no idea!

But for some of us, drinking water during exercise just doesn’t work and we find it better to drink some more water before and after our work outs.

So- here are 3 disadvantages of drinking water during exercise:

First of all, drinking too much water during your exercise can cause serious nausea, headaches, and even cause you to pass out. Plus, you might puke or even end up with that dreaded ‘side stitch’ (that pain in your side when you’re running!).

But, let’s discuss this more in-depth, and explain a few ways to counteract this.

1 – Drinking Too Much Water Can Cause Nausea, Headaches, and Make You Pass Out

This is the biggest and scariest disadvantages of drinking water during exercise. It has come into recent attention lately after a lot of deaths were found to be caused by super overhydration.

You see, when you drink a ton of water, it messes up the electrolyte and sodium balance in your body.

This makes you incredibly nauseous, gets you a headache, and can even make you pass out. In the worst cases, your heart will stop due to the sodium and electrolyte imbalance.

This condition is called hyponatremia. Hypo- meaning lower, and natremia meaning the presence of sodium in the blood.

In simple terms, that means you have a low presence of sodium in your blood.

With a Too Much Water and a Low Sodium Presence, Your Body Falls Apart

When you start drinking all that water, it needs to go somewhere right?

So, it floods your bloodstream, but then we have a problem. There’s too much water. Your body for its’ entire life has fought to manage a 24/7 balance of sodium and water balance in the bloodstream.

Simply put, it’s the recipe for your life. Your heart relies on it, your muscles in your arms, legs- they all rely on it, even just basic chemical reactions rely on it.

With a low sodium presence in blood, or hyponatremia, your body’s critical systems will start to fail. You might have heart palpitations, or even pass out. If you have any of these signs, please stop reading and call 911 immediately.

Regardless, some early signs of this can be a headache or nausea, as your body isn’t ready to adapt to this change.

Your Brain Can Swell!

If things get really bad and you have an extreme amount of water in you, your brain might start swelling.

This is very obviously a life-threatening condition and can result in death if not treated immediately, please call 911 if you’re dealing with that.

Be careful to not overhydrate too much. Now, obviously, if you were dehydrated before and you had a little bit of water, you’ll be fine.

But, if you’ve drunken perhaps 128 oz of water in less than 30 minutes and your brain is just throbbing bad, you should see a physician immediately.

Your brain swelling is kind of a last resort effort saying, ‘hey, something’s wrong’.- and will likely happen when this sodium water balance is extremely out of place.

Here’s What Usually Happens

Okay, I’ve probably scared you with the last few paragraphs, let’s talk about what usually happens with one of the biggest disadvantages of drinking water during exercise.

Generally, you’re just going to feel a little nauseous or have a headache even.

Personally, this happens if you drink too much water way too fast. In most instances, it’s where I start working out hard, hydrating well, and then stop working out and end up talking to a friend at the gym I haven’t seen in a while or something.

Then, all that water is flooding my body, and I’m not sweating or getting rid of it or anything like that. Then, the bad things happen and you end up in a weird spot where you just don’t feel good.

This can really happen to anybody. It’s super easy and is usually just reversible by eating, drinking things like Gatorade (with electrolytes and sodium), or just giving it some time.

Now, this obviously isn’t the ‘scariest’ of realities, but it’s the most common reality. We obviously want to avoid it as most of the time it will just ruin your workout.

You won’t be able to lift weights or run well with most of your body’s muscular system being shut down due to the sodium imbalance.

So, let’s try to avoid it! If you want to drink water, try taking sips instead of drinking massive gulps like I used to.

2 – You Might Puke

This is a little different than above. Generally, when your body has that sodium/water imbalance you’ll feel nauseous, but that doesn’t always mean you’ll throw up.

Now, if you start drinking a lot of water and hitting some hard squats in the gym, you might feel that water come back up.

Let’s assume you just downed a solid 12 oz of water, and you start working out super hard, you might just blow some chunks in the gym before you can get back from your superset.

I’ve personally had this happen, and my friends have advised me to not drink water before my heavy lifts because of it. (I really am addicted to drinking water in the gym, I need help)

Oh well, it’s not my problem if I puke all over them. Not my clothes, right? I’m sure they can buy some of my merch for cheap.

3 – Could Cause ‘Side Stitch’ (That pain in your ribs)

You ever go on a run and the side of your ribs just has that horrible aching pain?

That’s called ‘side stitch’. For me, I feel it on the bottom left part of my lung, and it is just one of those pains that is just so aggravating. It’s almost so annoying that it can completely ruin my run.

I will literally postpone my run for another hour or so if I get side stitch because I’m just not in the mood half the time to deal with it.

While there is no ‘definite’ cause for side stitch, most people agree that eating or drinking before a run is a big cause of ‘side stitch’.

So, this is one of the biggest disadvantages of drinking water during exercise- the infamous side stitch.

3 Disadvantages of Drinking Water During Exercise / Photo by The Lazy Artist Gallery from Pexels
3 Disadvantages of Drinking Water During Exercise / Photo by The Lazy Artist Gallery from Pexels

Drink Gatorade/Electrolyte Drinks to Counteract This If You Need to Drink Something

Personally, I really like drinking water during the gym.

But, if you don’t want to deal with most of these problems, drinking something like Gatorade or an electrolyte sports drink can help mitigate these problems.

Sports drinks like Gatorade typically have sodium and electrolytes, which means that when you drink them, it helps your body balance out the water/sodium in your bloodstream.

This is why most people playing football or intense sports have these drinks. It helps the players keep going- all while staying hydrated and not dealing with many of the problems.

Although, don’t get too addicted, too much of that Gatorade can be bad for you.

Conclusion of 3 Disadvantages of Drinking Water During Exercise

Well, we learned a lot today.

For most people, drinking water during exercise is just fine. But for some people, myself included, it’s just not the best idea. I always recommend bringing a water bottle to the gym just in case you get super dehydrated.

But, this article was mainly aimed at the people who have been told their whole life that they need to constantly drink water while they workout, when it’s simply not true. And unfortunately, a lot of us have been conditioned this way even if it can hurt us.

If it’s ruining your workouts and making you feel sick, it’s okay- you can just save the water for after the workout and as long as you drink enough to replenish what you’ve lost, you’ll be just fine.

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