By Rachel Ho
Summer is coming and so is the blistering heat! An important yet overlooked tip to prepare for the upcoming months is to hydrate. What you choose to drink is just as important as what you choose to eat. Many beverages have added sugars and offer little to no nutrients. Here are a few tips to help you make better beverage choices!
What to drink
Most often: Choose these beverages most often – they provide proper hydration and key nutrients to support bodily function to feel and perform your best.
- Water (essential to life – your body is made of more than 50% water!)
- Milk (great source of calcium and vitamins)
- Unsweetened soy beverages (great source of protein)
Less often: Choose these beverages less often – they can be nutritious but may contain added sugars or be missing key nutrients to help you function properly.
- Flavored milks and soy/non-dairy beverages
- Fruit and/or vegetable juices and smoothies*
- Sweetened teas
*Missing nutrients (e.g. fiber) – it is recommended to eat whole fruit or vegetables!
Limit: Enjoy these beverages occasionally but generally avoid these options – they most likely are high in sugar and provide little to no nutrients:
- Regular soda or pop
- Energy and sports drinks
- Fruit flavored drinks (e.g. fruit punch or lemonade)
- Specialty coffee or tea drinks (e.g. frappucinos or sweetened lattes)
How often to hydrate
The Institute of Medicine recommends that most women drink 12 cups and most men drink 15 cups of water a day; however, everyone’s needs are very different. Most of us can get enough water from various foods and beverages, but it is important to hydrate properly. Your individual needs depend on many factors including:
- Body composition
- Weather and temperature conditions
- Physical activity level
- Sickness or injury
Check the facts
Use the Nutrition Facts label and ingredients list to help you choose the best beverage choices to hydrate and fuel your body.
Rule of thumb: If sugar is listed as one of the first three ingredients (or if there is more than 12 grams of sugar per 12 oz. serving), rethink your drink and go for a more healthful option.
Know where sugar is hiding
There many different names for sugar. Limit beverages that attempt to disguise sugar as the following ingredients:
- high-fructose corn syrup
- corn syrup
- juice concentrate
- cane or beet sugar
- and more!