What to drink (besides water) to meet water needs
Plain old fashioned water is your absolute best bet for meeting your fluid requirements. But trust me…I understand that water can get a little boring and sometimes you need to change it up a bit. To give it a little kick, I always recommend adding a splash of 100% fruit juice, a twist of lemon, lime or orange, or cucumber slices.
Water comes in many forms however, and most count toward your daily fluid requirements. They aren’t all created equal, though. Consider these beverages:
Gatorade and other sports drinks: Gatorade was created as a beverage to help the Florida Gators football team perform better during practice and games. As they sweat, they lost important electrolytes responsible for the body’s chemical balance (specifically sodium, potassium and chloride). As a result, they weren’t playing as well as they could have been.Scientists formulated a beverage to replenish these electrolytes, and Gatorade was born. It was created for athletes, but today it’s consumed by athletes and non-athletes alike. The problem is, if you’re drinking Gatorade to meet your fluid needs but aren’t participating in prolonged physical activity and sweating a lot, you’ll be taking in a bunch of extra calories that you probably won’t burn off. In this case, water is the better choice for you.
A 32-ounce bottle of Gatorade has 200 calories, 440 mg of sodium and 56 grams of sugar. If you drink two bottles of Gatorade every day, that’s 400 extra calories and 880 milligrams of sodium per day.
Again, Gatorade is a perfectly suitable choice if you’re participating in vigorous physical activity, but not when you’re sitting at your desk for hours on end. Better yet, for a more natural electrolyte replacement, try coconut water!
Coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages: Although once thought to dehydrate your body, scientists have determined that there’s no truth behind the caffeine-dehydration argument as long as you drink it in moderation. Drinking a cup of coffee in the morning to get you going counts, but don’t forget to count the extra calories from the cream and sugar. For example, a grande Caffé Mocha with whipped cream from Starbucks has a whopping 330 calories, 15 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat and 35 grams of sugar!
Soft drinks and diet soft drinks: Yes, they both count toward your fluid needs, but you want to go easy on them. Just like sports drinks and sweetened coffee drinks, regular soft drinks pack a sugary, calorie-loaded punch. Sugary beverages also cause the crash-and-burn effect. They give you immediate energy in the form of simple carbohydrates, which means you digest them rapidly and then crash and burn. Diet soft drinks contain artificial sweeteners and can actually make you crave sugar because they’re so much sweeter than regular table sugar.
Alcohol: Beer, wine and hard liquor dehydrate your body and don’t count (sorry!) toward your water needs. Actually, they have the opposite effect. Alcohol triggers your kidneys to produce more urine. The more you urinate, the more dehydrated you become.
Flavored water and vitamin-enhanced water: Some flavored waters are sweetened with real juice, others with artificial sweeteners. Read the label and go for the natural sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners include:
- Acesulfame potassium (Sunett, Sweet One)
- Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet)
- Saccharin (SugarTwin, Sweet’N Low)
- Sucralose (Splenda)
Vitamin water can be a nice change of pace from regular water once in a while but should never replace pure water. They can get pretty expensive, too! Drinking one bottle of vitamin-enhanced water a day will add up to over $400 by the end of the year!