You’ve heard it more times than you can count: For optimal health, you should drink water, and lots of it – at least 64 ounces (the equivalent of eight, 8-ounce glasses) each day. You’re aware that water is a great way to help you feel full and satisfied without putting any extra calories into your body. You get it – water is good for you, and you probably need to drink more of it to help your body work properly. But what if you don’t like the taste (or lack thereof) of water? What if you struggle to drink as much of it as you should?
The good news is that almost any beverage (with the exception of alcohol) counts toward your recommended daily 64 ounces. However, most other beverages contain things that water does not, namely calories, sugar, artificial sweeteners, or chemical additives. There are, however, some healthy and tasty water alternatives you can turn to for hydration. If you don’t want to reach for water the next time thirst strikes, consider one of these alternatives:
- Unsweetened Iced Tea. Unsweetened iced tea is my go-to beverage when I want a drink that tastes like something. I have an iced tea maker at home (you can get one at stores like Target or Bed, Bath, and Beyond for less than $20), which I use to quickly and easily brew a pitcher of my favorite tea. If you don’t have an iced tea maker at home, you can just brew a few of your favorite tea bags (there are some great varieties of herbal tea that contain fruits and spices and are caffeine free), put the brewed tea in a pitcher with some ice, and refrigerate it until cold.
- 100% Fruit Juice. Since 100% fruit juice is made from real fruit, it often contains many of the vitamins and minerals found in whole fruit, making it a healthy choice. However, when fruit is juiced, the skin (which contains most of the fruit’s fiber) is discarded, so a glass of fruit juice won’t fill you up as well as a piece of whole fruit. This, in addition to the fact that fruit juice contains around 100 calories per cup and more concentrated sugar, is a good reason to limit yourself to one, 8-ounce glass of fruit juice a day. When choosing a juice, make sure to read labels to ensure it’s made from 100% fruit and doesn’t contain any added sugar.
- Skim or 1% Milk. While milk is not calorie-free, it’s one of the healthiest beverages out there, due to its high calcium content. Milk is also a great source of protein and is fortified with Vitamins A and D.
- Flavored Seltzer. If you crave a calorie-free carbonated beverage that doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners, seltzer is the way to go. Most seltzers on the market are flavored with natural ingredients (my personal favorite brands are Schweppes and Polar), and many taste similar to fruity sodas.
Although the above beverages are great alternatives, you should still try to drink a few glasses of actual water each day. If you really can’t stand to drink plain water, consider adding a flavor boost by squeezing in the juice of a lemon, lime, or orange or adding a little bit of 100% fruit juice to your glass. Your body will be reaping all the benefits water provides, and your taste buds will be satisfied, too!