Of all the water you can drink, which is the best?
It’s a fact that water is essential to human survival. After all, it accounts for about 60 to 70 percent of a person’s body mass. Water has a lot of benefits. Our bodies require it to survive, and it can make us look and feel better. One study found that drinking half a litre of water increased metabolism by up to 30 percent for 90 minutes after ingestion. Proper hydration can also help increase our performance during physical activity and reduce the oxidative stress that occurs during high-intensity exercise.
So many waters, so little time! With so many opinions floating around about what to drink, choosing the right water for you has become complicated. But don’t worry: We’ve got you covered. Here are the basics on some of the trendiest waters out there—what they are, what they aren’t and what they may or may not do.
While some of us are fortunate to have access to clean drinking water straight from the tap—many other countries can’t say the same—Americans are still quick to dismiss tap water as an acceptable way to hydrate these days. Tap water is treated with fluoride and chlorine, which can alter the taste quite a bit, and is monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency, which identifies contaminants in drinking water and sets limits on the amounts of certain contaminants that it deems as safe for consumption.
Alkaline water is still a popular topic of discussion among proponents, with some supporting arguments emerging. One study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition supports alkaline water use by athletes: When your muscles produce more hydrogen ions than you can effectively remove, increasing internal acidity and inciting fatigue, drinking alkaline water—which has a pH greater than 7—can enhance your body’s buffering capacity, assuaging acidity and improving performance. A different study suggests that alkaline water could improve overall hydration by helping you retain electrolytes, it won’t do you any serious harm; it may cause some stomach upset if you’re not used to it, though but other than that, bottoms up.
Electrolytes are electrically charged particles. These particles help your body absorb water more quickly and contract muscles and nerves. When you sweat, you lose electrolytes. If you don’t replenish them, you could experience muscle spasms or cramping, fatigue, nausea and mental confusion. You’ll also feel weaker and unmotivated in subsequent workouts. Traditional sports drinks contain lots of electrolytes, but they also contain lots of sugar — which is great if you’re running a marathon but not so much if you’re doing a Tabata. Instead, try a calorie-free water infused with electrolytes.
Coconut water is lower in calories than a sports drink and can cause less nausea and stomach upset than a regular electrolyte drink. And while some research found it's no more hydrating than a sports drink and replenishes electrolytes no better than a potato, we think it tastes great — but it's expensive!
Hydrogen water is the newest of the trends, and all the Hollywood stars have been seen around Beverly Hills toting it. Proponents claim that adding hydrogen gas to plain water leads to increased energy, improved recovery and reduced inflammation after a workout. But so far, the evidence that supports these claims is scant: A small study published in the journal Medical Gas Research done on just 10 soccer players who drank hydrogen water found that their muscles were less fatigued post-workout. There are several other small studies but as of yet, there are no solid conclusions or guidelines as to how much hydrogen water you should drink in order to reap the benefits. Drinking it won’t harm you, so if you want to feel like a Hollywood star, go ahead! Just be sure to buy a brand that comes in an aluminium pouch; this is the only container that will hold the hydrogen inside.