To make sure you’re getting the daily eight to 10 cups (64 to 80 fluid ounces) of water recommended by the National Academy of Medicine, find a way to do it that you’ll be able to maintain, advises registered dietitian and nutritionist Lauren Wonderly. “Make it something you actually want to drink,” Wonderly says. “A lot of patients tell me mineral water tastes better to them than tap water. That could be — everyone is different. “The most important thing is to find water that tastes good to you that you will drink enough of to keep hydrated.” For that reason, we’re doing a water comparison on everyone’s favorite types of H2O.
Here are eight things to know about water that may help you decide how to maintain that healthy habit:
1. You’re mostly liquid
Water is 60 to 70 percent of the average healthy adult’s total body weight. The body needs water to keep its temperature normal, transport nutrients, lubricate joints and get rid of waste. It can also help control blood pressure.
2. Water comparison tip: Plain water is best for hydration
“It’s the best option because you don’t have to worry about added calories from sodium and sugars,” Wonderly says.
However, adding a pinch of salt to water may be the best option for someone who needs to replace electrolytes after working out for more than hour. “Water follows sodium,” she says. “A little bit of salt will help you absorb the water, but you don’t need a ton.”
3. Spruce with fruit
Add some natural flavor to a pitcher of plain water using fresh or frozen fruit. It’s an inexpensive way to give your glass a fresh taste without the added sugar and calories a bottle of flavored water may have. Wonderly’s favorite ingredients are watermelon and mint (together), lemon and orange slices, and frozen raspberries.
4. Watch out for tonic
If you’re keeping an eye on your sodium intake, know that tonic waters have 25 milligrams per eight fluid ounces. It also has 90 calories coming from high fructose corn syrup — an added sugar. “Ideally, you want the label to say zero of everything,” Wonderly says. “But even if it does, it may still have a very small amount of sodium or sugar. If it’s less than 5 milligrams, they don’t have to put it on the label.”
5. Alkaline has no effect
“One of the biggest things I hear about is alkaline water,” she says. “A lot of people think it’s going to help their body pH (acidity level), but it’s not. “As soon as it gets to the acidity of your stomach, it will be neutralized. And then the kidneys will filter it out. You’re basically just making expensive urine.”
6. Be careful with carbonation
Again, check the labels for sodium and sugar content if you’re watching your intake or counting calories. Seltzer water has all zeroes on its label, just added carbonation. La Croix, one of the most popular brands, has all zeros, too. Another, Topo Chico, has 15 milligrams of sodium, which is still considered a low-sodium product. S.Pellegrino contains 10 milligrams. “Carbonated waters can cause bloating and gas,” Wonderly says. “I don’t recommend them as a drink before or during a workout. Stick with a still water during that time.”
7. Food hydrates you
You might not have considered food when looking at a water comparison and the best ways to add water to your diet, but several foods contain water. Lettuce, celery, cucumber, cabbage, watermelon, spinach, oranges, apples, grapes and tomatoes are all more than 80 percent water. Eating them raw is the best way to consume that hydration, because cooking dries food out — unless it’s a soup.
8. Caffeine can hydrate… sort of
Weak brews (mostly water) are the most hydrating option, but Wonderly says new research indicates that habitual coffee and tea drinkers’ bodies adjust to the caffeine intake. “People who drink up to three cups of caffeinated beverages per day won’t see it affect their hydration,” she says. “But people who only drink it sporadically will see more of a diuretic effect.”
Find more nutrition pointers from our experts:
Sweet or Savory: A Guide to Choosing Healthy Condiments
Considering Keto? Learn More About This Diet
(Meal) Prep School
Breakfast Balance Leads to a Better Day of Eating
Easy Tips for Staying Hydrated