by KATIE MAXEY, MS, RD, IBCLC
Summer is here and the heat has been turned up! Before you grab your electrolyte drink or soda, make sure you check the label. Is it truly hydrating you or making you more thirsty? And are you drinking extra calories that your body doesn’t need?
The average woman needs around 8-11 cups of fluids a day. You may need more or less, depending on you as an individual. Stop and think about what you’ve had to drink today. Will you get to 11 cups and what were your cups filled with? They were probably not all water. Water is the most important fluid to use for hydration, but let’s be realistic, we all want some flavor throughout the day too, right? A can of soda can contain around 8-10 teaspoons of sugar. And an electrolyte bottle can contain 11 teaspoons of sugar. Would you normally take 10-11 teaspoons of sugar and add that to your water? Probably not, although some of you may be adding that much to your cup of coffee!
A teaspoon of sugar is equal to 4.2 grams of sugar on the nutrition label. Check out your refrigerator to see what the nutrition content of your drinks looks like. When we drink our calories, we do not feel “full” and therefore the calories you are getting from sugary drinks can add up quickly, causing you to possibly carry extra weight. So what can you drink that has flavor but not all of the calories? The good news is that there are some low-sugar options in the store and some ideas you can make at home!
Artificially sweetened drinks:
There are flavored drinks that use artificial sweeteners to give them a sweet flavor. Artificial sweeteners can be listed under several different names which includes sucralose, Splenda, aspartame, Equal, Saccharin, Sweet’N Low, NutraSweet, Truvia and more. Remember, the additive is artificial so even though it’s not extra sugar, it’s still an artificial substance going into your body. Be wise and drink these in moderation, just like with sugary drinks!
Artificially sweetened examples: Propel, Gatorade Zero, diet sodas, Sparkling Ice, Mio and more
There are sparkling, carbonated waters that have natural flavors and sweetness added, but without sugar or sugar-substitutes. These provide less flavor than other canned and bottled drinks, but are an option if you need a little more flavor than plain water!
Sparkling water examples: Bubly, La Croix, Spindrift, Pelligrino, Poland Spring and more
You can always flavor your water before you walk out of the door for the day! Any fresh fruit and even some vegetables, cut into pieces or slices, can make your water taste great! They even make water bottles that have an infusion area inside to place your produce. The most popular fruits and vegetables to infuse into water are oranges, lemons, strawberries, mint and cucumber. It also makes your water look fancy! Do them alone or pair them together to try new flavors for your water.
If you focus on drinking a combination of fluids throughout the day, not just one type, you will stay hydrated without too many calories going in! Check out the nutrition labels in your home and at the store next time you go grocery shopping. You can even have a taste testing night to see if there are any new options on the shelves that you enjoy! Stay hydrated and healthy!