Water is the best drink to quench thirst without calories. But admittedly, clear water is not particularly exciting. As a result, many are turning to alternatives that are considered healthy, designed to keep the body hydrated and taste more exciting than water.
However, such special drinks are not always as good as their reputation – like these five, for example.
1. Kombucha and kvass
Kombucha has gone from being a hidden gem to a supermarket staple in recent years, and kvass, a similar fermented drink, is also growing in popularity.
Both are touted as probiotics, which are foods that contain live bacteria thought to (theoretically) colonize the gastrointestinal tract and improve health.
But according to nutritionist Dr. Joanna McMillan, most bottled kombucha contains less live bacteria than tap water — negating the probiotic benefits. It’s also not scientifically proven that taking probiotics actually does much for otherwise healthy people.
While the health benefits aren’t actually as great as they’re made out to be, that’s not to say there aren’t any.
“If you’re having either drink instead of a soft drink, fruit juice or a beer, that’s brilliant,” McMillan told coach.nine.au. “But always look at the nutritional information for ready-made products because some of them contain quite a lot of sugar.
2. Coconut Water
Only drink coconut water if you’re obsessed with the taste—not in the hope that it will automatically make you a healthier person. In general, coconut water has a few good qualities: it’s all-natural, low in sugar, and a good source of potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure.
But the popular claim that coconut water is better at quenching thirst than water is, frankly, utter nonsense. “All we really need is water to keep the body hydrated,” says McMillan.
3. “Healthier” water
With today’s obsession with low-fat and low-carb products, protein is considered the magic bullet of the macronutrients, which is why we can now buy protein bread, cereal, chips, chocolate and yes, protein water too.
The protein water mostly contains whey protein – which is also used in many protein shakes because it is very easily digested by the human body.
A portion of protein water provides about 20-30g of protein. Sounds good at first – but you probably don’t need that much.
Because you can easily get all the protein your body needs from whole foods and beverages, even if you have very high protein needs.
According to McMillan, so-called vitamin water is also not recommended: it does contain vitamins, but usually also a good amount of sugar and/or caffeine.
“You don’t need vitamins from your water,” she explains, adding that you can better control the dose and type of a particular vitamin by taking a specific supplement or (best) getting enough vitamins from food.
The expert therefore recommends eating enough fruit, vegetables and other whole foods.
4. Green Juices
“Beware of green juices,” McMillan warns. Bottled green juice is often just fruit juice in disguise — which can be sweeter than any soft drink.
“Grab a smoothie rather than a juice so you can get all of the pulp and fiber,” she advises.
“Always read the ingredients list, though. Vegetables should be at the top, followed by fruit, but sugar shouldn’t be included.”
5. Isotonic Sports Drinks
Specialty sports drinks are vital – if you’re an endurance athlete competing in a marathon, Ironman or other sporting event, or if you’re engaging in intense physical activity in hot weather.
Otherwise, isotonic drinks are not recommended – you don’t necessarily need the electrolytes they contain, and the sugars found in many varieties are likely to be stored as fat rather than being burned directly for energy.
“These drinks are not suitable as an energy boost in the afternoon,” says McMillan.