5 drinks to avoid when you need to hydrate

It’s no secret that staying hydrated is essential to feeling your best. Plain H20 is the ideal choice, but other liquids from sparkling water to prebiotic sodas, plus consuming water-rich foods also contribute to your hydration. However, not all drinks are created equal. Certain drinks can cause your body to lose water, leading to dehydration.

So what drinks should you avoid when you want to hydrate? Keep reading to learn about the worst hydration drinks and the best (water-free) options to enjoy.

The 5 Worst Hydration Drinks

1. Sugary drinks

Sugary drinks, such as sodas, energy drinks, and sweet teas, can lead to dehydration. Beverages containing fructose and glucose, two types of sugar commonly found in sugary drinks, have been linked to worsening dehydration, says registered dietitian Brittany Lubeck, MS, RDN. These drinks often contain high amounts of sugar. When you drink a sugary drink, your body has to dilute the sugar by pulling water from your tissues, which can lead to dehydration over time, according to research. What’s more, Lubeck says, is that drinks like soda have been shown to increase oxidative stress in the adrenal organs that play an important role in your hydration status. Consuming a sugary drink in moderation is fine, of course. Problems are more likely to occur when you consume these beverages in large quantities or continuously throughout the day.

2. Drinks with caffeine

First, caffeine has a diuretic effect, meaning it makes you urinate more. However, the good news is that the juice you get from your morning cup of coffee offsets this effect. In fact, drinking two or three cups of coffee doesn’t seem to affect your body’s hydration. Problems arise when caffeine intake is excessive, which can become dehydrating. Lubeck recommends limiting excess consumption and drinking plenty of water after consuming coffee, tea, energy drinks, soda, or other caffeinated beverages. Additionally, look for decaffeinated versions of your favorite caffeinated beverages or herbal teas.

3. Alcohol

Alcohol is another diuretic that sends you making frequent trips to the bathroom. Alcohol directly inhibits vasopressin, an antidiuretic hormone that helps retain water, Lubeck explains. If you don’t drink water or other hydrating beverages along with the alcohol, then you could find yourself dehydrated, she says. There are so many ways you can enjoy a drink while maintaining your body’s fluid balance, such as drinking a glass of water between alcoholic drinks or drinking low-alcohol drinks such as spritzers. And stick to the recommended limit of one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.

4. Energy drinks

Energy drinks often contain high levels of caffeine and sugar, and as mentioned earlier, this is a dehydrating double whammy for your body. Caffeine increases urination, while sugar can lead to an imbalance in fluid levels. Instead, opt for natural energy-boosting alternatives like green tea or matcha or coconut water. You can also make one yourself to control the ingredients and cut back on added sugar and calories, like this EatingWell energy drink that contains green tea and yerba mate.

5. Fruit juice

While fruit juice can be hydrating, some varieties, such as fruit, lemonades, juice cocktails, or fruit-flavored drinks can contain a lot of added sugar. And like the other drinks on this list, drinking them throughout the day can contribute to dehydration. Not to mention, sugary fruit juices are also linked to higher calorie intake. Alternatively, choose whole fruit over juice whenever possible to make sure you’re still getting fiber and other nutrients that help keep you hydrated. If you drink juice, look for 100% juice, ideally one that contains pulp so you get some fiber, and enjoy in moderation.

The best drinks for hydration

When you need to quench your thirst, take these four sips:

  • Water: Water is the best hydrating drink. It is essential for the regulation of body temperature, helps digestion and transport of nutrients. Plus, pure water contains no calories, additives or sugars, making it the perfect choice for staying hydrated. And if you get tired of drinking water, you can always opt for sparkling water.
  • Milk: Milk contains water, vitamins and minerals important for fluid and electrolyte balance, says Lubeck. Cow’s milk provides an excellent balance of carbohydrates, protein and essential electrolytes such as calcium and potassium. Additionally, research suggests that milk can support post-exercise recovery by replenishing fluids and electrolytes lost through sweat.
  • Drinks with electrolytes: Formulated to replenish fluids and essential minerals lost during intense exercise or in hot weather, electrolyte drinks typically contain a mix of sodium, potassium and magnesium, all essential for maintaining proper hydration and muscle function. Sports drinks and other drinks that contain electrolytes help rehydrate quickly after a hard workout or day out, says Lubeck.
  • Coconut water: Also rich in electrolytes, especially potassium, coconut water is a fantastic choice for staying hydrated and keeping body fluids balanced.

After all

Staying clear of drinks that can dehydrate you, such as sugary sodas, overly caffeinated drinks, and alcohol, is essential for proper hydration. Instead, choose hydration alternatives like water, milk, electrolyte drinks, and coconut water. These drinks help quench your thirst while replenishing essential nutrients lost during physical activity or in hot weather.

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