Let’s face it: Water, though a life-giving miracle, is kind of boring. You should definitely still drink it! But we get it if you’re less than enthusiastic about water. Sometimes it can feel a bit like a task to get to the recommended 2.7 liters of liquids a day for women.
But fortunately, there are tons of hydration options beyond plain water. Check out these fun, healthy ways to mix up your daily hydration.
Water That’s Far from Plain
There’s plenty you can do with water to make it flavorful and fun. One option is to infuse water with flavors of your choosing. Water can be infused with a range of fruits, herbs, and even vegetables. Some favorite ingredients for infusion are berries, cucumber, basil, mint, watermelon, apples, and kiwi, although there are many more. Hello Glow has a great article on how to infuse water, and with what.
A quick infusion involves just squeezing a few drops of fresh lemon into your water, giving it a boost of vitamin C and flavonoids, and possibly aiding with keeping blood pressure healthy.
Laura Kadner at Hello Giggles has a hilarious article about hating water. One of the ways she gets around it is with bubbly water: “Despite hating water, I strangely love its classier more glamorous cousin, sparkling water.” Kadner recommends a SodaStream to cut down on the cost (not to mention all the plastic bottles that accumulate). Be mindful, if you go the sparkling water route, of the carbonic acid in it. Though it’s relatively weak, according to The Atlantic, it can affect tooth enamel.
Coconut water is the clear liquid inside a young coconut. Coconut water has electrolytes and potassium, although it can be pricey, and it was overhyped for a while there. As WebMD puts it, “If you enjoy the taste and your budget allows it, coconut water is a nutritious and relatively low-calorie way to add potassium to your diet and keep you well-hydrated.”
Quick tip: Download our free guide on rehydration for a deep dive into the science behind hydration.
Get the guide: How to Rehydrate
Fruits and Vegetables
WebMD notes that about 80% of our water intake comes from drinking fluids; the other 20% comes from food. There are plenty of fruits and vegetables that are high in water content. To name just a few:
- Cucumber: 96% water
- Celery: 95% water
- Tomatoes: 94% water
- Asparagus: 93% water
- Spinach: 91% water
- Cantaloupe: 90% water
- Peaches: 89% water
- Carrots: 88% water
- Bananas: 75% water
(Source: Berkeley Wellness)
Incorporating these and other water-rich fruits and vegetables into your diet gives you an easy way to hydrate. Check out these recipes from Eating Well that bring together hydrating ingredients in delectable ways.
Coffee and Tea
Myth debunking time! Coffee and tea get a bad rap for causing dehydration, but it isn’t at all deserved. Caffeine is indeed a diuretic, but you retain most of the water from the beverage. “Even though caffeine is a mild diuretic,” according to Dr. Daniel Vigil’s explanation to Time magazine, “you won’t lose more fluid through urine than you take in by drinking a caffeinated beverage. Your body is able to absorb as much fluid as it needs and expel the rest….Vigil says that coffee and tea ‘can and should’ count toward your daily eight-or-so cups of water per day.”
Milk and Juice
A 2015 study that measured a “beverage hydration index”—that is, fluid retention in the body—found that four beverages had higher hydration indexes than water: oral rehydration solution (such as Pedialyte), fat-free milk, whole milk, and orange juice. Dr. Ronald J. Maughan of Loughborough University told the New York Times, “Normally when you drink, it signals the kidneys to get rid of the extra water by producing more urine,” whereas “when beverages contain nutrients and electrolytes like sodium and potassium, as milk does, the stomach empties more slowly with a less dramatic effect on the kidneys.” You can see the full hydration index at Runner’s World.
If you drink juice such as orange juice, don’t go overboard, since fruit juices can have concentrated sugar quantities. Berkeley Wellness recommends limiting yourself to one cup a day if you’re trying to lost weight.
Mix It Up!
You can get great hydration with some creative kitchen experimentation. Two options are to make smoothies or homemade juices, which are especially hydrating if you incorporate high-water-content fruits and veggies. Mocktail recipes can also result in delightful hydrating drinks—for instance, check out this fruity mock sangria. Eating Well has an excellent collection of drink recipes.
What NOT to Drink
Alcohol is not a good way to hydrate. As Jillian Kramer at Food and Wine explains, “Alcohol—despite being a fluid—inhibits the release of vasopressin, an anti-diuretic hormone that rushes to our defense when our concentration of electrolytes rise above a certain level.” During a night on the town, minimize dehydrating effects by looking for lower-alcohol-content drinks and drinking slowly. If you enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, consider adding sparkling water to turn it into a spritz.
Other drinks that aren’t great for hydration are sugary sodas, sugary sweetened iced tea, sugary energy drinks, sugary coffee drinks … well, you get the point!
Tips on Staying Hydrated
If you find that you’re not getting the recommended daily amount of water, and especially if you’re seeing and feeling signs of dehydration, try these tips for staying on top of your hydration game.
- Download a water-tracking app, such as Waterlogged or Daily Water – Drink Reminder, which let you see your daily progress toward your imbibing goals.
- Keep liquids nearby. If you carry around a water bottle, you’ll be more readily reminded to drink throughout the day. Rachel Link, the founder of Nutrimental, recommends marking lines on your water bottle so you know how much you should have sipped by certain times of the day.
- Exercise! As if you need another reason to exercise, besides all the many health benefits, drinking water while exercising can be surprisingly refreshing. You’ll find workouts more satisfying when you’re hydrated before, during, and after them.
What's your favorite way to rehydrate after a workout or midday?