Staying hydrated is crucial for athletes for optimal performance on the field and when you’re on a roadtrip. So when you know the best gas station drinks you’ll be prepared to grab a drink that will meet your sports nutrition performance plan.
While it’s always best to plan ahead and bring your own drinks to practices and games, there may be times when you need to grab a quick beverage on-the-go.
Fortunately, many gas stations offer a variety of options that can help you stay hydrated and fuel your body without resorting to sugary sodas or energy drinks.
In this post, we’ll take a look at the 9 healthiest gas station drinks for athletes.
Whether you’re looking for a refreshing way to rehydrate after a tough game or a healthy gas station drink to fuel your body before a game, we’ve got you covered.
9 healthiest gas station drinks
The most hydrating drink at the gas station is water. Since water is critical to maintaining optimal athlete hydration and to reducing the risk of dehydration related injuries for athletes, it’s one of the best gas station drinks to choose. (1)
Drinking water is important for staying hydrated, regulating body temperature and replenishing fluids lost during practices or games. It’s a great option for athletes who need to stay hydrated and focused during practice or games.
Or for athletes who are rehydrating and refueling between games.
2. Carbonated and flavored water
Carbonated or flavored water is another of our recommendations for best gas station drinks for hydration, but it’s important to read the label and check the ingredients. Some carbonated or flavored waters may contain added sugars.
If you’re looking for a flavored water, opt for options that use natural flavorings or are infused with fruit. These can provide a refreshing taste, without adding extra sugar or calories.
Some carbonated water options may also contain added electrolytes, which can be beneficial for athletes who need to replenish their fluids after a game or practice.
However you want to avoid carbonated drinks before sports activity since they can cause bloating, gas and heartburn which could impact your performance.
3. Coconut water
Coconut water is a natural source of electrolytes like potassium and sodium, which are help to maintain hydration and muscle function during activity. However coconut water has about 404 mg of potassium per one cup serving, while only 65 mg of sodium. (2)
Sodium is the primary electrolyte to support fluid balance and prevent muscle cramping, so coconut water isn’t an adequate electrolyte replacement drink.
Since sodium is the primary electrolyte lost in sweat and also helps to stimulate thirst, you’ll want to choose a drink higher in sodium for fluid and electrolyte replacement. (3)
But coconut water can be a good pre game or recovery drink when paired with carbohydrates and protein for recovery. Or you can enjoy coconut water when you’re looking for a lower calorie refreshing drink.
Unlike water, coconut water has sugar, so you want to look for a low sugar option.
4. Sports drinks
Sports drinks contain electrolytes like sodium and potassium. Electrolytes, especially sodium, maintain hydration and replace lost fluids and electrolytes lost when you sweat.
Ideally you can find a sports drink that has 14-18 g of carbohydrates per 8 ounce serving, and at least 200 mg of sodium. The carbohydrates at this concentration are easy to digest and provide a quick source of energy.
Check out our post on how to choose the best sports drink for more details.
5. 100% fruit juice
Pure 100% fruit juice contains vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, potassium and folate. However, it’s also high in sugar and calories, so it’s important to consume in moderation. Most gas stations will have apple, cranberry and orange.
Since fruit juice has a higher concentration of sugar, it’s not a good choice for pre game or half time fluids. Drinking fruit juice cause stomach upset and hurt your sports performance during activity because higher sugar content can slow absorption and delay rehydration. (4)
6. Vegetable juice
Vegetable juice is a great way to get a wide range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in a quick and convenient way. It’s also low in calories and sugar, making it a healthy drink option for boosting nutrients.
Vegetable juice can provide numerous benefits for youth athletes, including reducing inflammation and supporting overall health and immunity. However, it’s important to note that vegetable juice should not replace whole vegetables in your diet.
While vegetable juice can be a great supplement to your diet, it’s important to also consume whole vegetables for their fiber content and other health benefits. When choosing a vegetable juice, look for options that are low in sodium and free from added sugars or artificial additives.
7. Milk and chocolate milk
Milk is a great drink option for youth athletes due to its numerous health benefits. Milk is a rich source of calcium, essential for bone health and strength. It also contains high-quality protein, which can help repair and build muscle tissue after exercise.
Additionally, milk is a good source of vitamins and minerals like vitamin D, vitamin B12 and magnesium. It also contains electrolytes, sodium and potassium, which are important for maintaining overall health and supporting athletic performance. (5)
Milk can also be a great option for post-workout recovery due to its carbohydrate content, which can help replenish glycogen stores and aid in muscle recovery.
Chocolate milk contains all the protein, calcium and electrolytes as regular milk. But it also has additional carbohydrates from the added chocolate. Athletes regularly drink chocolate milk as a good recovery drink.
8. Protein shakes
Protein shakes can be a healthy gas station option for youth athletes who need to quickly replenish their muscles after a tough workout or game. You’ll likely find a few standard brands and flavors such as vanilla and chocolate.
Since protein is essential for building and repairing muscle tissue and protein shakes can provide a quick and convenient way to get the nutrients your body needs.
When choosing a protein shake, it’s important to opt for a high-quality, low-sugar option. Look for protein powders that contain at least 20 grams of protein per serving and are made from high-quality sources like whey or plant-based proteins.
Overall, a high-quality protein shake can be a great option for youth athletes looking to support their athletic performance and recovery. However, it’s important to remember that whole foods should always be the first choice for getting the nutrients your body needs.
9. Iced tea
Unsweetened iced tea is a healthy and refreshing option for athletes, especially when choosing options with no caffeine. Tea contains antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Herbal teas like peppermint, chamomile, and ginger can be soothing to the digestive system and help promote relaxation.
It’s best to drink these on rest days and always be sure you read the ingredient list to make sure there are no hidden caffeine or supplements added.
This blog provides valuable information for youth athletes who are looking for healthy drink options while on the go. Now you know the benefits the best gas station drinks for improved bone health, muscle repair and overall sports nutrition.
By choosing healthy gas station drink options rich in nutrients and good for optimal hydration, youth athletes can fuel their bodies and support their athletic performance.
And use our hydration sweat calculator to make sure you know how much you need to drink, since you may need to buy a couple more bottles of sports drinks!
Now you’re ready to make a good choice for healthy drinks when you’re on the go.
Steph Magill, MS, RD, CD, FAND has over 22 years of experience in public health and nutrition. As a performance registered dietitian nutritionist, Stephanie specializes in sports nutrition and provides simple and actionable information so that athletes can be well fueled for high performance on and off the field. Stephanie has a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and is a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.