During the summer it is more important than ever to stay hydrated. Whether you’re dancing at an intensive, spending the day at the beach, or walking in the park you’re bound to lose water. Replacing this lost fluid is crucial in order to maintain optimum physical performance and health.
The concept of hydration is simple, but the execution can require a bit of effort. Let’s face it: Water is boring. Though it’s refreshing after a long workout or a few hours in the sun, it can be hard to remember to drink H2O when you’re not thirsty. One trick to help you get your fluids is to add some pizazz to your drinks. Here are some healthy and tasty beverage options to fill the gap in your water intake without adding too many extra calories to your diet.
Before you try bottled drinks off the shelf, try adding flavor to your existing glass of water.
Lemon Water: Lemon juice not only adds flavor, but also is great for your digestive system, immune system, skin, and tissue and bone health. It is recommended that you consume at least half a lemon per day to reap its full benefits. You can also create a zero- calorie lemonade by combining water, lemon juice, and stevia. Add a bit of cayenne pepper for some healthful heat!
Infusions: By adding berries, cucumber, herbs and spices to your water you can create great flavors without the extra calories. Fill a big pitcher with water, add fruits and herbs of your choice, and let it sit for a few hours. Here’s one tasty infusion recipe.
Though they have a higher sugar content, juices (especially homemade) are a good addition to your daily drinks. Juices provide extra vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables and are good for digestion. Avoid to many processed juices, as they tend to lose nutritional value and often have excessive amounts of sugar. Try making your own and get creative! Here are a few recipes to get you started.
This beverage has gotten a lot of publicity and for good reason. Coconut water is extremely high in potassium, with around 570 mg per serving. It also helps replenish electrolytes after a workout. Coconut water has been found to be most beneficial when consumed in conjunction with short workouts. If you don’t like the taste of it plain, there are lots of different flavored versions you can buy (keep in mind the sugar content will be higher).
A personal favorite of mine, tea, is rich in antioxidants, can provide a little energy boost from caffeine, comes in a million flavors, is easy to make, and has zero calories (as long as nothing’s added). The kind of tea you choose to drink depends on your personal preferences. Some have a more bitter or leafy taste, such as black and green tea, while others such as herbal tea can be naturally sweet and fruity. You can also have it hot on a chilly day, or iced if you want to cool off.
Black, Green, and Oolong Teas
These three contain higher caffeine levels, though still less than a cup of coffee (black tea has the most, around 40 mg in one cup). They’re extremely rich in antioxidants and have a slew of health benefits like improved metabolism and disease prevention.
Brewed with younger leaves, white tea is very mild. It has a small amount of caffeine, but won’t make you as perky as a mug of black tea.
These teas are generally made from herbs, flowers, and oils and as a result contain no caffeine. There are lots of flavors available, all with different benefits. Mint tea, for example, can help to soothe the stomach, while chamomile promotes sleep and relaxation.
There is an ongoing debate about the pros and cons of drinking this highly caffeinated beverage, but it’s generally accepted that drinking a couple cups of joe a day won’t hurt (the daily caffeine recommendation is 200 mg max, or about four cups of coffee). In fact, coffee provides some great health perks! It’s low calorie, assuming you don’t add an excessive amount of sugar or order a sugary coffee shop concoction, it helps stimulate the metabolism, and can fight the onset of certain cancers and diseases. Remember, moderation is key. Caffeine is addictive, so stick to at most a couple cups a day.
Milk and Non-Dairy Drinks
Milk is a good source of protein and calcium, which promotes strong bones and muscle development. A glass of chocolate milk is often recommended after a workout, since it provides a balanced amount of protein, and carbohydrates. For those avoiding dairy, try an unsweetened soy milk or almond milk. Both types are generally enriched with extra calcium equal to a glass of milk. Soy milk naturally is high in protein and there are now varieties of almond milk that have protein added.
Need your daily fix of carbonation? Skip the diet coke and opt for a Zevia! This sugar-free, zero calorie soda is sweetened with stevia and comes in a wide variety of flavors that taste just as good as your typical grocery store pop.
Also found in yogurt, probiotics do wonders for your digestive system. You can consume them in supplement form, but why not have them in a fizzy, delicious, low calorie beverage? Kevita and Kombucha are two such drinks. Kevita is a fermented tea containing probiotics and enzymes, and is rich in antioxidants. There are around 35 calories per serving, depending on the flavor, of which there are many (mostly fruity).
Kevita is another fermented drink full of probiotics and comes in LOTS of different flavors, including a daily cleanse with lemon and cayenne. With only 5-45 calories per serving, this refreshing drink is worth every penny.
Now that you have the knowledge of such a wide variety of healthy drinks, there is no reason for you to go thirsty this summer. Stay cool and hydrated!
Contributor Caroline MacDonald, an intern at Barre, is a Portland, Oregon native who moved to Pittsburgh this year to dance in the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Graduate Program. As a lifelong vegetarian, she has a great interest in living a healthy lifestyle through exercise and good nutrition. Caroline loves to cook and runs her own vegetarian food blog, Caroline’s Kitchen.