You go to the grocery store and instead of turning on the tap, you want to buy flavored water. There are several dozen choices including VitaminWater, Fruit20, Fruitopia, and Ozarka just to name a few. Many drinks labeled as water are loaded with sugar and empty calories. Even though these drinks have ‘water’ in their name, drinking them regularly may increase your calories and lead to obesity. What does one do with so many choices?
Here’s what to look for — and what to avoid.
1. Check the calories
Real water has zero calories. Always check the packaging label to see if a so-called water beverage has calories.
2. Watch out for sugar
Some so-called water drinks include sugar, fruit juice or other sweeteners. So, be sure to check the total carbohydrates and sugars on the nutrition label.
Your drink is only real water if the total carbohydrates and sugars are listed as 0.0 grams.
Over time, drinks with a lot of sugar and/or caffeine can lead to dehydration as large amounts of sugar and caffeine act like diuretics.
3. Don’t be fooled by added vitamins, minerals or fiber
It’s okay to occasionally drink a beverage with added vitamins, minerals or fiber. But beware: beverage companies often market these nutrients to trick you into thinking you’re getting something healthy — and to make you overlook the unhealthy parts of the drink, such as sugar.
Keep in mind that you should get your nutrients from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein whenever possible — not from drinks.
4. Electrolytes aren’t usually necessary
Many drinks promise electrolytes and improved athletic performance. But in most cases, your body doesn’t need to replenish electrolytes unless you’re doing aerobic or outdoor activity for longer than 60 minutes. Regular water should provide the hydration you need.
Whenever possible, opt for filtered tap water. Not only will you save money; you’ll also reduce your exposure to toxins like Bisphenol-A (BPA), which may get into water that’s sold or stored in plastic bottles. Play it safe by keeping your filtered tap water in a glass container.
Try to drink at least 64 ounces — or 8 glasses — of real water each day. Your body needs this much water to stay hydrated and work efficiently. And, it helps you feel full longer so that you eat less and maintain a healthy weight. Research suggests that replacing sugary drinks with water may help you shed a few pounds.
Don’t like water? Cut up berries or an orange, lime or lemon and put them into your water for extra flavor. Added bonus: you’ll get some disease-fighting vitamins and antioxidants.
Bottom Line: Water is the elixir of life. Drink lots of it, especially filtered tap water and avoid the marketing hype of flavored waters. Drink up.
This blog was modified from an article by Mary Ellen Herndon, a dietitian at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The article appeared in Dr. Kevin Pho’s blog, http://www.kevinmd.com