Do you drink the recommended eight to 10 glasses of water a day? Most people don’t even come close; in fact, most opt for “other” beverages such as sports drinks, sodas, coffee, smoothies and alcohol. So do you truly know what you’re drinking? If it isn’t water, is it healthy drinks? Let’s go over the drinks that people commonly reach for and see what’s good and bad about each of them.
What Drinks Are Healthy Drinks?
- Water: Let’s start with the basics. Water has no calories, which is always a good thing—especially when you’re watching what you eat. Also, it’s easily absorbed. It helps us function and perform better. It’s also the ideal beverage for exercise that lasts no longer than 45-60 minutes. Here’s the bad news: If you’re an endurance athlete or competitor who is pushing his or her body well past an hour, water won’t give you the electrolytes you need nor the energy to keep enduring! While working out, try to drink at least eight to 12 ounces of water every 16 to 18 minutes during a workout for optimal performance.
- Protein drinks: Protein drinks should never replace whole protein sources such as fish and lean chicken or turkey. They do, however, help with muscle recovery and synthesis and are usually easily absorbed. I love the convenience of protein drinks—I can help my depleted muscles get the nutrients they need to recover from a tough workout. The negative aspect of protein drinks: They don’t contain the carbohydrates or electrolytes required during intense activities. Also, some protein drinks contain more than 20 to 30 grams of sugar per serving!
- Juice: We need vitamin C, and juice helps provide it. You also get a good dose of folate and fiber. Unfortunately, especially for those who are watching their waistlines, juices are full of calories and natural sugar. The acids can hurt tooth enamel as well. This isn’t an ideal drink before activity, because it can cause GI distress and a blood sugar crash during your workout.
- Soda: I think this one doesn’t even deserve much thought or debate. Yes, there are a lot of tasty sodas out there, but they’re full of sugar-laden empty calories. Even diet sodas can create sugar cravings, and caffeine can disrupt sleep. There isn’t any notable effect on athletic performance either, unless a beverage has 200mg of caffeine.
- Coffee: Studies are showing that coffee doesn’t cause dehydration if you keep your consumption in the moderate category. A cup of joe can boost athletic performance and endurance as well. Coffee can upset the tummy, however, and shouldn’t replace your recommended water intake.
- Smoothies: These should be an occasional treat. Though you might consume fruits and vegetables, you’re probably taking in a “meal” of at least 400 calories and more than 30 to 40 grams of sugar per serving!
Overall, it’s best to reach for water. If you absolutely can’t stand the taste, I recommend flavoring it with frozen berries and lemons. There are some water flavor pouches out there as well; just be mindful of how they’re sweetened and opt for calorie-free, naturally sweetened choices!