You’ve heard it all. Soda is bad. Too much alcohol is bad. In excess, so is coffee. Juice? Forget it. And don’t even think about ordering that large milkshake. It seems like every day, an expert pops into your news feed to let you know your favorite drink is terrible for you. You’re just trying to live your life, stay hydrated, and enjoy your coffee! You know you need to drink more — but what are you supposed to drink if you can’t have what tastes good?
We settle for bottled and fountain drinks because they are easy, and sometimes, extremely cheap. We get them even though we know they aren’t good for us. However, when we start replacing unhealthy drinks with healthier ones, everything changes. Suddenly we realize we can quench our thirst without all the other unwanted ingredients mixed in. Read on to find out how.
Worst drinks for your health
Let’s start off looking at all the drinks you should not turn to when you’re thirsty and need something refreshing to drink. The last thing you want to do, when you need to drink something is to pour sugar down your esophagus. There are a lot of drinks out there hiding calories — why choose them, when you could go for something low-cal — or even better, cal-free?
Regular and diet soda
Soda is unhealthy — you know this. It’s important to remember, though, that the easiest way to wean yourself off soda isn’t to drink less — but to drink something else in place of it. And if you thought you could rely on diet soda as a healthy substitute — you’ve been deceived. Most diet sodas contain artificial sweeteners, which experts still worry could negatively affect your health in the long-term. Soda may be fizzy and delicious, but it’s not worth the sugar, or the calories, or the probably dangerous dyes and fake flavorings.
Do you really need energy from a bottle? Energy and sports drinks are extremely high in sugar and calories. While this might be good for a marathon runner who’s just endured the heat for an hour or so to train for a race, it’s usually not good for anyone else. You’re not only rehydrating — you’re also replenishing salt, calories, and sugar. Unless you’re an athlete who really needs it, try to steer clear.
Blended coffee drinks
Some of the most sugar-saturated, calorie-dense drinks are blended coffee beverages, like Starbucks Frappuccinos. Coffee that’s flavored with syrup — with whipped cream and chocolate or caramel drizzle on top — is more of a shake than coffee. You are much better off sticking with black coffee, with a little cream and sugar to taste.
Fruit and vegetable juice
Fruits and vegetables are healthy, so drinks made from them should be, too — right? Unfortunately, most of the nutrition you will find in fruits and vegetables comes from the peel and the flesh. When you squeeze juice out of an orange, for example, you’re getting a whole lot of sugar — but leaving most of the orange’s nutrition behind. Even if juice is made with 100% fruit, it has way more sugar in it than you need to consume through a drink on a regular basis — especially for breakfast.
Now, let’s be clear — alcohol, in moderation, isn’t a bad thing. Consumed in excess, though, it can load your system with extra calories and sugar — and it can definitely dehydrate you fast. Mayo Clinic says moderate drinking includes one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men under 65. Try to avoid drinks like cocktails, which often result in drinking more sugar than alcohol.
Want to know more about what to drink to stay hydrated? These sugary drinks will sabotage your weight loss goals — and might even make you thirstier.
Here are a few drinks you can try that will keep you hydrated without adding too many calories or too much sugar to your diet. You can make many of them at home — and we’ve provided some easy-to-follow recipes to make it simpler to do this.
1. Infused water
Flavored water sounds tempting — and delicious. But did you know you can add flavor to your water without buying it from a bottle? You can easily add fruit to plain water and let its natural flavor soak into your glass. You can use any fruit you want — here’s a simple and tasty example.
Infused Strawberry Watermelon Water (serves 4)
- 1/2 cup strawberries, halved
- 1 slice watermelon, cubed
- 1/2 lime, sliced
Add fruit to a large pitcher of water. Add ice to the pitcher and serve.
Venture back to your childhood summers, filled with lemonade stands galore. While lemonade does have sugar in it — it wouldn’t really be lemonade without it — a glass of lemonade is much healthier than a glass of artificially sweetened soda. If you have leftover strawberries from your infused water, you can even add a unique spin to this classic drink.
Strawberry Lemonade (serves 8)
- 8 large strawberries, halved
- 1 cup and 2 tablespoons white sugar (divided)
- 7 cups water (divided)
- 2 cups lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Blend strawberries, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1 cup water until juiced. In a large pitcher, combine strawberry juice, 1 cup sugar, 6 cups water, and lemon juice. Stir until blended and chill before you serve.
3. Iced tea
As long as it’s unsweetened, iced tea can serve as an extremely healthy and refreshing drink. You can use whichever type and flavor you want to ensure your tea tastes exactly how you want it — without the extra sugar, of course.
Here’s how to do it: Combine 8 cups of water (to make 8 cups of tea) and 6 tablespoons looseleaf tea/10 tea bags in a large pitcher. Cover it and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 15 hours, up to 36, depending on how strong your preference. Strain the looseleaf tea or remove the tea bags after chilling and enjoy!
You may also like: