If your FYP is suddenly full of 40-ounce Stanley cups, pretty syrup bottles on turntables, and caddies chock-full of brightly colored water flavor packets, you’ve probably stumbled onto #watertok. It’s a world where plain water gets a glow-up with low-calorie flavors, all in the name of making hydration tastier. And there are actual water ‘recipes’ involved too. But experts are ringing the alarm about this trend.
Is flavored water good for you? Asking for a friend.
It’s complicated. #Watertok content creators typically spice up their drinks with powdered water flavorings — from brands like Nerds, Starburst, Gatorade, and Hawaiian Punch — or syrups that you might find behind coffee shop counters. Many of them have zero grams of sugar. That’s largely because the water flavorings are often sweetened with fake sweeteners instead.
The health impacts of low- or zero-calorie sweeteners are unclear. While the research hasn’t been able to definitively say if sugar substitutes like Stevia or Splenda are bad for you, it suggests that it may be harmful for gut health and increase food cravings. And some experts say that altering water — whether through flavor or carbonation — means that your body won’t benefit from it in the same way.
The other thing to consider is your hydration habits outside of flavored water. If drinking sugar-free, cotton candy-flavored water helps you cut down on sugary sodas or alcohol, some experts reportedly agree that it’s a step in the right direction.
Is there a healthier way to flavor water?
We get it, you’re sick of plain ol’ water. Experts agree the healthiest way to give your water a little zhuzh is with fruit, like a slice of lemon. It might not make a super cute water bar. But it comes with the added benefit of some minerals and vitamins, and reduces the potential health risks of flavor packets and syrups.
If you exercise or sweat frequently, you may also want to consider swapping out a flavor packet for an electrolyte water supplement (like a powder or tablet). Electrolytes — aka magnesium, sodium, potassium, to name a few — are minerals that help you stay hydrated. That said, they can come with some added sugar. So check the nutrition label before you start stocking up.
Cheers to you for wanting to drink more water. Just know that the health impacts of these powders and syrups to make your water taste better aren’t clear. So your best bet is to kick it old school with plain water, or add some fruit to it.
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