You already know staying hydrated is vital to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But there are more delicious low or zero calorie drinks available besides water. And you may be surprised to know that there are more efficient ways to rehydrate than liquids alone.
When hydrated, you feel more energized, focused, and strong. It also aids in the body’s ability to perform involuntary functions like regulating blood pressure, digestion, and heart rate. So, how do we keep our bodies and minds running efficiently in a more satisfying way?
Gaining all the benefits of a well-hydrated body and a clear mind is simple when you keep your fridge and pantry stocked accordingly. This article will provide tips on how much, when, and what to drink to rehydrate effectively and feel your best. To round things out, we will list our five favorite types of low or zero-calorie drinks and examples of each to try.
How Much You Drink
By now, most everyone knows it’s best to aim for 8-12 cups of water or other liquids per day, but this rule of thumb fails to clarify how to budget fluid intake and counteract things that may cause us to dehydrate faster.
A person sticking to just 8 cups a day that exerts a lot of physical effort through work or exercise each day is also likely to find themself feeling dehydrated because they did not account for the extra water lost through sweat. Physical exertion will also impact when we hydrate, which will be covered in the next section.
It may be a surprise, but where you live and the season will also determine hydration. How dry, windy, or hot the climate is will impact how much moisture is pulled from the skin and breath compared to cooler or more humid climates. Altitude will also affect hydration, similar to how it impacts blood oxygen levels and other body functions, so use extra caution when traveling to places of different altitudes.
Your diet is the next thing to consider when determining how much fluid is best for your body. Are you eating a lot of sodium or carbohydrate-rich foods? If so, your body will crave extra liquids that may also contribute to bloat. Maintaining a more balanced diet can help aid in hydration. More on that later.
So, when determining how much fluid you need to stay hydrated, look at your physical rigor, the weather where you are, and what’s on the menu. Depending on your mix of these elements, you may need to adjust when you’re hydrating for optimal benefit.
Opt for Low or Zero Calorie Drinks to Rehydrate
It’s always a great idea to jump-start your system after a good night’s rest with a refreshing glass of water first thing in the morning. Yes, before your coffee. This primes your body a little before the jolt of caffeine kicks in. It also helps counteract the natural diuretic and dehydrating effects of the caffeine found in coffee.
I think it’s a natural human thing to try to hack or cheat the system, but I caution against trying to do so when it comes to hydration. If a person chugged all ten glasses of water at once, it wouldn’t have the same rehydrating effect as taking in water throughout the day and could have potential risks like ‘water intoxication.
Taking in all that water at once floods your system with water faster than the body needs it. The water would all be discarded through multiple back-to-back trips to the restroom. The best tip is to plan and spout your fluid intake to match your body’s natural processing cycle. However, there is a time when front-loading extra liquid is a good thing.
When you know you have a long endurance exercise planned or know you’ll be outside all day in the hot, emphasizing hydrating early is a great idea. Once your body starts depleting moisture through sweat and muscle activity, it becomes a race to keep up with.
The body’s nervous system is incredibly efficient and uses up internal resources much faster than we tend to replenish them. So hydrate early and rehydrate often when physical rigor or environmental conditions demand it.
What You Drink
Yes, there is water in every type of beverage, but drinks have many other ingredients that might inhibit any hydrating benefits. Knowing the nutritional value of each type of beverage is very important not only for hydration but for healthier living in general. When you can, stick to naturally low or zero calorie drinks.
Watch out for drinks touted or marketed as ‘healthy.’ If they’re prepackaged, it’s common to find a number of items on the ingredients list that are not so great for hydration. Some specific ingredients to watch out for are added sugars by another name, like dextrose, sucralose, or turbinado.
Alcohol is another large beverage category with major dehydrating traits. The alcohol found in beer, wine, and cocktails is a natural diuretic, meaning it encourages the body to release more water through urination – making it harder to stay hydrated. In addition to being diuretic, drinks containing alcohol are likely to also have excessive amounts of sugar or caffeine that will compound the dehydrating effects of alcohol on its own.
The bottom line is to check your ingredient labels and take a moment to look up any unfamiliar-sounding words. If an ingredient sounds like a science experiment, it is likely not the best thing for you. To help you save time and the frustration of researching dozens of ingredients, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite low or zero calorie drinks filled with electrolytes, antioxidants, and natural sugars.
Refreshing Hydrating Drinks Other Than Water
Below is a list of beverages linked for your convenience that may earn our site a commission at no additional cost if purchased. These are just ideas. Please use your best judgment or consult your healthcare provider when selecting the items that best suit your dietary needs.
A big thing to look at when choosing flavor powders to add to water is the sodium content and hidden sugars. Though some artificial sweeteners are not the worst, taking in a large amount of sodium may not help you rehydrate very well.
- Liquid IV – Great for rehydration and recovery
- True Citrus Lemon or Lime
Homemade or store-bought, check that your tea is low or free of sugar, and be mindful of caffeine content. I cannot get enough home-brewed sun tea in the summer. It’s one of those drinks I look forward to all year.
- Black Tea
- Herbal Tea
There is no shortage of delicious aromatic herbal teas, from specialty loose-leaf blends to tried and true store-bought options. Don’t be fooled. Herbal teas can be brewed to make delicious iced tea just as well as black teas. This way, you can enjoy your favorite tea options all year long.
- Celestial Seasons Raspberry Zinger or Tension Tamer are go-to favorites
- Tazo Herbal Passion Tea is super refreshing. You can brew this tea at home and enjoy it hot or iced.
- Bigelow Herbal I love Lemon or Blackberry Citrus tea are always in my pantry.
I will typically cut all my fruit juices with water or enjoy them in single-serving portions as the calories and sugars can add up. However, since the sugars in these juices occur naturally, it’s not quite as detrimental as added sugars in sodas or other drinks.
- Langers 5 Calorie Cranberry Juice – though it does have sucralose listed as an ingredient, this is the best-tasting low-calorie juice I have found. It also doesn’t contain other fruit or vegetable juices for flavor or sweetness, so it retains a strong cranberry taste. I usually mix mine with a little water and a splash of lemon juice.
- No sugar added orange juice
- Grapefruit Juice
Fruit infused water
Though you’ll not often find true fruit-infused water available in stores, they are very simple to make at home. Try using the juice from the fruit you’ve just cut up or purchase no sugar added 100% juice to make ice cubes with. You can always mix the juice right into your water, too.
- Fresh lemon or lime slices
- Watermelon Juice Ice Cubes
- Pineapple Juice Ice Cubes
Additional Ways to Rehydrate
Eat more fruits and vegetables! Fruits and vegetables are high in water content, so they can help you rehydrate while providing essential vitamins and minerals. The vitamins and minerals in fruits and veggies are electrolytes, which help the body regulate and retain water. This is why eating a balanced diet of fruits and veggies is so vital for nutrition. They check so many beneficial boxes all at once.
Dairy products are another food group with surprising hydrating effects on the body. The secret ingredient found in some dairy products is a protein called albumin, which is vital in body fluid regulation. But be cautious; consuming dairy can be a slippery slope. Stick to low-fat options and watch out for high-fat, cholesterol, or sodium options. Some safe picks include low-fat plain yogurt, cottage cheese, or 2% milk. The best part is that these dairy picks are also electrolyte-rich foods too!
Hydrating your body is essential for many aspects of physical health and overall wellness. It’s worth knowing what you’re consuming to ensure you’re giving your body what it needs and avoiding the things that may negatively impact your hydration.
It’s best to emphasize hydration early and often by consuming refreshing hydrating drinks. Some great options include electrolyte powder, iced tea, herbal teas, and fruit juices, or eating plenty of fruits and veggies.
Being mindful of your own individual hydration needs will help you feel more energized, focused, and strong throughout the day. Stay happy and healthy out there!
Marly is a lifestyle writer and creator of simplylivinghappy.com, a site dedicated to helping readers improve their health, wealth, mindset, and overall happiness. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her listening to audiobooks while gardening, visiting with family, or traveling.