Water is life. Water transports vital nutrients in your body and flushes out harmful toxins, while lubricating joints, aiding in digestion and regulating body temperature. Water is also essential for weight loss to keep your metabolism running efficiently to allow you to burn maximum fat while curbing those dehydration cravings that love to mask themselves as hunger.
You know all of this. You know you are supposed to drink your eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to keep you properly hydrated, especially while exercising. All too often, however, people make the mistake of thinking if something is liquid, or marketed as a beverage, it counts towards your water intake. Not so.
Some are obvious: soda, coffee, tea and anything else with caffeine actually works against you, dehydrating your system and leaching calcium from your bones. They also pack a caloric punch that will undo any burn you just put in at the gym. Those are no brainers.
It starts to get trickier when water itself is upgraded to sports drink status. The great marketing machine has taken water, the only beverage our bodies were meant to crave, and “improved” it. It’s bad enough water has been bottled and sold for $4.00 a pop, but now it’s being infused with chemicals and fake sugars to help it match our sweet-loving taste buds.
Traditional sports drinks, like Gatorade or Powerade, are full of sugar and calories, which has diet conscious consumers turning to zero calorie substitutions like Crystal Light and Fruit2O to get their hydration fix. These calorie free drinks, however, gain their flavor from artificial flavors, chemicals, and the ever-scrutinized aspartame, all of which can cause mood swings, head aches, gastrointestinal symptoms, and for you calorie counters, has been shown to stimulate appetite in the hours after consumption.
It might not be exotically flavored, but it is always best to get your hydration straight from the source. If plain water is just too boring from you, freeze up some slices of fruit to add taste, and be sure to eat plenty of deliciously water rich foods, like apples, watermelon, lettuce and cucumbers. Water is essential to proper health, but washing it down with acidic chemicals cranked out of a lab is hardly a combo for healthy living.