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Are Fitness Drinks Really Good for You?

By Sarah Densmore

First, let’s define “good.” A good fitness bottled water adequately hydrates your body without adding lots of sugar-based calories that’ll make you gain weight from drinking it.

Sound a bit like regular old water? Well, for the most part it is, except that fitness water also contains a little shot of fruit or herb flavoring that appeals to folks who find the taste of plain water boring. If having a little citrus juice or green tea in your water means you’ll keep your body adequately lubed, then drink up.

Just be sure you pick your fitness water consciously, because hidden calories and unwanted ingredients could be lurking inside.

  • Artificial sweeteners: That sweet, fruity taste sensation could be coming from an artificial sweetener like sucralose. While it won’t add as many calories as sugar, you may not want an artificial sweetener in your diet.

  • Caffeine: If you’re looking for an energy boost, you might like a fitness water with caffeine. But remember that too much caffeine can — among other things — increase your heart rate, make you irritable, and give you a headache. If you prefer to avoid the stimulant, steer clear of fitness water with green tea. It’s loaded with caffeine.

  • Calories: Some fitness waters don’t have any calories. Others have as many as 50 per serving. Don’t assume it’s calorie free because it’s water. Sometimes the flavor boost comes in the form of calorie-filled sugars.

    Read the Nutrition Facts label on your fitness water carefully. The Food and Drug Administration requires manufacturers to clearly identify the flavorings, ingredients, and nutrients added to bottled water.

  • Electrolytes: Yes, your body needs to replenish the electrolytes (ions essential to cells) you lose when you sweat. However, unless you’re exercising vigorously for a prolonged period of time, or you’re working out in intense heat, you’ll be able to replace your electrolytes by eating well and drinking plain water. So don’t let the addition of electrolytes be the deciding factor in your fitness water choice.

  • Serving size: One bottle of fitness water can contain two or more servings. If you’re counting calories, this can be a big deal. Let’s say one serving is 15 calories, but there are two servings in the bottle. You drink the entire bottle and you’ve just added 30 calories, not 15. Drink more than one bottle a day and the calories can pile up quickly.

  • Sugar: If you’re on a sugar-restricted diet, or simply want to monitor your intake for the sake of your overall health, be sure and check the amount of sugar in your fitness water of choice.

  • Vitamins and minerals: Many fitness waters tout the addition of vitamins and minerals; however, in most cases the actual percentage of these nutrients is negligible and can be obtained easily by eating a well-balanced diet.

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