Staying hydrated is one of the simplest things you can do to keep your body healthy, but we get it: It's hard to remember to drink as much as you should. Water can get boring after a while, and maybe you want something with flavor to pair with a certain meal. Either way, hydration is important for regulating body functions, improving sleep, and keeping your immune system strong. We connected with Kimberly Arnold, licensed Dietitian Nutritionist and owner of Enlitened Nutrition for her insight on the best hydrating drinks—and the the least hydrating ones, too.
Best Drinks For Hydration
This one is a no brainer. Water (both still and sparkling!) is the easiest way to stay hydrated on a day to day basis. It's calorie-free, more readily available, and super refreshing on hot days. Our bodies are also made up of about 60 percent water, as Arnold pointed out, so it's important we are constantly putting more into our body. "On any given day, we lose about eight to 12 cups of water through sweat, breath, and urine. Aiming for half your body weight (in pounds) in ounces of water every day, will keep your mind and body working optimally," she said. Pro tip: If you don't love the taste of plain water all the time, mix it up with fresh fruit slices or frozen juice ice cubes.
Sports drinks like Gatorade are good for rehydrating, but only under specific circumstances. Arnold said these drinks are only really helpful after you've worked out or done any other high intensity activity. "When we sweat, we lose both water and electrolytes. Many people assume that these recovery drinks are healthy or even essential because they provide these electrolytes," she said. "In most circumstances, these drinks are only needed after moderate to high intensity workouts that have lasted over an hour or with excessive sweating." Arnold also suggests really reading the labels before you choose a sports drink because there can be tons of artificial colors, sweeteners, and excess sugar depending on the product.
Tea or Coffee
If you want a caffeine boost that doesn't totally dehydrate you, go with tea or coffee instead of an energy drink. Many energy drinks have way more caffeine from both natural and artificial ingredients than the recommended daily intake. "Energy drinks can be deceiving and may contain excessive amounts of caffeine, often alongside herbal stimulants, sugar, sodium and artificial ingredient," Arnold explained. "In healthy adults, 400 mg caffeine per day or less is generally considered safe if consumed over the course of a day. Some energy drinks can contain close to that in one bottle." Tea and coffee are also good options because you can dilute tea with water and add milk or your preferred sweetener to your coffee yourself rather than guessing what you're getting from a label.
Worst Drinks For Hydration
Energy drinks pack way more sugar and unwanted ingredients than you may think. That's why Arnold suggests sticking with coffee or tea if you really need that extra boost. Energy drinks are also a bad choice for children and adolescents because of the caffeine content. Whenever you're looking for a caffeinated drink, "Be sure to look at the serving size and count all sources of caffeine towards your total," Arnold said.
This should seem like a given, but it's an important one, nonetheless! Any alcoholic beverage like beer, wine, or liquor, and especially anything with over 10 percent ABV will be dehydrating. This is why if you're drinking and it's hot out, you should definitely take that one water per drink ratio seriously. It'll keep you hydrated while keeping you buzzed and lessen your chances of a nasty hangover.
Sure, you may not be gravitating toward hot beverages in the summer, but in case you were thinking about it, hot cocoa isn't a great choice for hydration purposes. It's thick in consistency and packed with sugar making it more of a dessert than a hydration beverage. This also goes for other fancy drinks like pumpkin spice lattes and secret menu Starbucks Frapps. Drinks like that are great for Instagram pics and satisfying your sweet tooth, but make sure you're drinking a lot of water throughout the day, too.
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