We all know water is superior hydration (with an exception for some extreme sports) but for some reason, you just don't like it or you can't make yourself drink enough of it, you need flavor!
There are all kinds of water enhancing products out there that involve pouring powder packs or squeezing cute little containers into your water. Most sing their praises as "No calories! No sugar! No caffeine!" But are they good for you and can they take the place of regular water?
The short answer is, "no". There is no substitute for water and they shouldn't replace plain water.
If something tells you it has nothing in it and yet it's sweet, it has something in it. In the case of the new MiO water enhancer, that something is sucralose which is nearly 600 times sweeter than sugar and is also the same ingredient used in Splenda which swirls with health controversy to this day.
But does this count as your water consumption?
Technically yes, but it shouldn't. These flavored drinks should be seen as a sometimes thing, not an all the time thing. Your body and fitness needs the clear stuff and plenty of it. Sucralose, and most of the other artificial sweeteners, sometimes have the uncomfortable side effect of bloating and stomach issues. If all your hydration came from flavored water, you may find yourself not feeling well.
The FDA deems it safe and perhaps in the quantities you drink it in, it is. But the fact remains that if you buy something packaged to add to your water, you are adding chemicals to your body. Though we are probably inhaling and rubbing against chemicals all day long (car fumes, perfumes, cleaners, etc), this one gets ingested into your guts.
"But isn't it better to go sugar-free if I'm trying to lose weight and get fit?"
In general, yes, it's better to avoid sugar as much as possible, but it also depends on what and how much you're consuming. There is no one answer for every body.
Here are a few positives and negatives to adding sugar-free flavors to your water:
• If you're addicted to sugary drinks and you're working to wean yourself off them, and if cold-turkey isn't your style, the sugar-free versions can help you transition into healthier beverage drinking which can save thousands of calories and benefit your health.
• Too much sugar doesn't just add weight, it's bad for almost every piece of your body from your skin, to your brain. It's one of the leading causes for the rise in type 2 diabetes.
• If you just want some flavor now and again, the amounts of sucralose probably aren't harmful (though I'm not a scientist so I'm using the word probably).
Not so beneficial
• It's chemicals.
• It gives people a false sense of healthy. Things that are sugar free or fat free aren't necessarily healthy or better for you than their real version. You need to read the entire label and see what ingredients are being swapped. You can't have sweet with "no sugar added" labels.
• It's a bad idea to rely on these flavored waters for all your hydration. Your body needs clear water, and enough of it, for good health and fitness gains. There is controversy swirling about the safety of of artificial sweeteners and their long term use.
Flavor your water tips!
- Instead of buying packets and squirts, add some real fruit juice to your water. Squeeze some orange, lemon, lime, or even a mint leaf into your water. Natural and good for you!
- Chew a piece of gum (spearmint is my favorite) while you're drinking water. Viola - Flavor!
In the end, the answer is to drink straight H2O. Don't talk yourself into the fake flavors being "good for you", they aren't but if you love some sweet water once in awhile, then it's certainly a much better choice than the sugar filled drinks out there. Do your research and decide if they are worth the risk but there simply is no substitute for the clear stuff.