7 Drinks That Boost Performance

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Coconut Water - Light and refreshing, coconut water is the translucent fluid present inside young green coconuts and has a wonderful tangy flavor. Your body will appreciate that each cup has much less sugar than juice and twice the potassium of a banana. "Potassium is a major electrolyte lost in sweat and urine so it needs to be replaced in the diet," says Gidus. As a perk, this au naturale sports drink contains antibacterial proteins and has none of the saturated fat found in coconut milk. Fortunately, you can skip the flight to the tropics for a swig as coconut water is now available at many health food stores.

Sip on this: O.N.E (onenaturalexperience.com) offers 100 percent coconut water in go-anywhere packs.

Cherry Juice - A 2008 British study reported that runners who downed 16 ounces of tart cherry juice for five days prior to and two days after the London Marathon had reduced inflammation, oxidative stress and muscle damage. The findings support earlier research that endorsed the value of this fruit juice in helping alleviate muscle pain and strength loss after a tough workout.

Sip on this: Created in conjunction with Cornell University scientists, each bottle of CherryPharm (cherrypharm.com) cherry juice is made from 50 antioxidant-loaded whole cherries.

Chocolate Milk - A 2009 study shows that the drink you guzzled as a tyke may be better than sugar-loaded sports drinks to help you recover from a bout of exercise. British scientists found that drinking chocolate milk after intense exercise allowed subjects to cycle 50 percent longer after a four-hour recovery period than after ingesting a carbohydrate replacement drink. "Chocolate milk is a natural recovery drink because the carbs help replenish energy stores, the protein repairs tired muscles and electrolytes replace losses in sweat," Gidus says.

Sip on this: Farmer-owned, hormone-free Organic Valley one-percent chocolate milk (organicvalley.com) comes in handy single-serving containers for after a race.

Hemp Milk - Vegans, those who are lactose intolerant or those just looking for a little variety from dairy should consider pouring a glass of nutty tasting hemp milk. Beyond a good mix of protein and carbohydrates for your working muscles, creamy hemp milk--made by blending hemp seeds and water--is a natural source of heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory omega fats as well as iron, which is not found in cow's milk. The iron boost is particularly important for women, says Gidus, because "women tend to be more iron deficient because of monthly blood losses, and low levels can compromise endurance." Try hemp milk in cereal, mixed into a post-run smoothie or simply served over ice.

Sip on this: Living Harvest hemp milk (livingharvest.com) is deliciously creamy and fortified with several vital nutrients for runners.