Labor Day weekend is upon us, and it’s been a long, hot summer. So hot, in fact, that July 2016 has been declared the hottest July on record. The issue of global warming is an important one, but that’s not the reason I brought up temperature.
For those who love being outdoors, you probably know that staying well hydrated is important, especially in the summer heat. Our bodies sweat (i.e. lose water) in the attempt to keep us cool. These fluids must be replaced or dehydration will set in. I’ve written about hydrating foods and liquids before.
While nearly all of us have experienced dehydration at some point, let’s be clear: Our nation is not in a hydration crisis. Most of us are not in the military (if you are: thank you) or elite athletes training to the point of extreme exertion and dehydration. If you do intensely train, then you need more fluids (and calories) than the average Joe. The majority of us just need to pay attention, and respond accordingly, to our thirst. Luckily, we have a pretty sophisticated thirst mechanism to help with that.
For daily hydration, water is the best and most effective choice. This makes perfect sense, as water makes up about two-thirds of our body weight. Speaking of weight, water has the added bonus of being free of calories. Better still, water sometimes even comes free of charge. Drinking water in place of caloric drinks can be an effective weight loss, weight maintenance, or potential money saving strategy.
But does water have to be your only choice?
Not always. While water is the best first choice, it doesn’t have to be your only choice when thirsty. If you’re like me, sometimes plain water can leave your taste buds wanting more—more flavor, that is. As a rule, I try to keep my intake of calories from beverages on the low end, so when I’m in the mood for something more flavorful than water, l look for low-calorie options.
My drinks of choice are low-calorie sweetened sparkling waters. They come in a variety of fruit flavors—I prefer grapefruit. Upping my water game to include sparkling varieties makes a big difference in not only making sure I drink enough water each day, but that I actually enjoy it too.
But what works for me may not work for you. Some people avoid low-calorie sweetened beverages due to unsubstantiated claims they may have read. Although science has confirmed the safety of low-calorie sweeteners (over and over and over again) and their role as a helpful tool in managing weight, you don’t have to use them.
That’s the thing about diet and nutrition: There is a ton of advice out there. Not every bit of it will appeal or apply to you, nor should it. The best healthy habits for you to form are ones that are supported by science, but more importantly, ones that you will enjoy sticking with for the long haul.