Whether you’re going to the beach, working out in the sun, hiking your favorite trail, or just trying to stay cool, proper hydration is essential. Drinking fluids is crucial to maintaining the function of every system in your body, keeping your heart, brain, and muscles performing optimally. But we get that plain ol’ H2O gets boring. You want some alternatives to water that’ll keep you hydrated and make you more inclined to drink more (and more frequently).
Why Hydration Is Important
Water accounts for about 60 percent of your entire body weight, but you’re constantly losing this fluid through sweat, urine, and respiration. And that happens more rapidly in the heat, as your body works to keep you cool (via sweating and blood circulation). Proper hydration supports healthy skin, wound repair, and your immune system, too.
How Much Water You Should Be Drinking
Recommendations for how much fluid you need to drink daily depends on your body weight, physical activity level, and individual sweat rate. A general recommendation for a minimal daily goal is drinking half your body weight in fluid ounces (for example if you weigh 200 lbs, aim to drink 100 ounces of water).
While recommendations on fluid intake run the gamut, one thing is consistent: Water is the best thing to drink. While soda, tea, coffee, sports drinks all contribute to hydration, regular water is the most effective way to hydrate. Why? Juices, energy drinks, and sodas can be high in sugar and possibly lead to unnecessary empty calories if you aren’t working out and just sit around. Of course sports drinks can be effective if you’ve been exercising in sweltering temps and are losing important electrolytes that help with fluid balance.
If you’re pining for alternatives to water that are effective, affordable, and tasty, we’ve got five stellar options (plus one homemade recipe). You can add fruit and fresh herbs to infuse your water with added flavor. Try this recipe for a refreshing cucumber- and blackberry-infused water.
Cucumber- and Blackberry-Infused Water
- ½ cucumber, thinly sliced
- ½ cup blackberries
- ½ lime, thinly sliced
- 4 cups (32 fl oz) water
- Place the cucumber, blackberries, and lime into an infuser or regular pitcher. Fill the pitcher with water and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Enjoy!
Each cup contains about 3 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g carbohydrates, 0 g sugars
5 Healthy, Low-sugar Alternatives to Water
1. Nixie Sparking Water
Launched by the founders of Late July Snacks, Nixie Sparkling Waters are USDA Certified Organic. They’re infused with just-picked fruit flavor (not juice) and come in botanical flavors like Lime Ginger, Peach Black Tea (caffeinated), Watermelon Mint, and Pomegranate Green Tea (caffeinated). With 0 calories, 0 g sugars, and 0 g sodium, Nixie never contains synthetic solvents, carriers, artificial flavors, or preservatives. You’ll be craving these all summer long.
[$5.99, 8-pack; wholefoods.com]
2. Èsse Water
What makes Èsse beverages unique is the use of essential oils that are extracted from the peels of lemons, grapefruits, and blood oranges, rather than “natural” flavors. They use a proprietary process that strictly involves those essential oils—and nothing else. Their Lemon Water contains only 3 calories and 0 g sugar for a naturally refreshing changeup from plain water.
[$48, 12-pack; drinkesse.com]
3. Aura Bora
One of the newest sparkling waters to hit the market, Aura Bora is made from real herbs, fruits, and flowers. Their flavors are whimsical—Lemongrass Coconut, Watermelon Peppermint, Lavender Cucumber, Basil Berry, and Cactus Rose—but all contain 0 g sugar, 0 calories, and 0 g sodium, and use only natural ingredients. Each can is vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO to boot.
[$30, 12-pack; aurabora.com]
Spindrift was one of the first sparkling waters to the scene to be made with real squeezed fruit, rather than ambiguous “natural flavoring.” Their Cucumber Sparkling Water clocks in at just 2 calories and 0 g sugar, comprising carbonated water, cucumber juice, and citric acid. All their beverages are non-GMO certified.
[$26, 24-pack; drinkspindrift.com]
NOOMA is a newcomer to the sports drink arena, and they’re making a name for themselves by using only natural ingredients. Electrolytes come from coconut water and Himalayan pink salt to give you fast-acting, effective hydration without all the added sugar and artificial ingredients. Their Watermelon Lime flavor contains only 30 calories and 0 g of added sugar. They’re also organic and non-GMO verified.
[$27.99, 12-pack; drinknooma.com]
Jordan Mazur, M.S., R.D., is the coordinator of nutrition and team sports dietitian for the San Francisco 49ers.
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