The Best 7 Hydrating Drinks & 8 Worst Ones | Virgin Pure

By Bob Fear

The Best 7 Hydrating Drinks & 8 Worst Ones | Virgin Pure

Looking for the best drinks to hydrate? It turns out there are quite a few options when it comes to filling your body back up with water and electrolytes. Whether you're looking for post-workout replenishment or trying to keep your body hydrated during a bout of the stomach flu, these options will help you feel better. However, there are also some drinks that won’t help when it comes to being dehydrated, so watch out for those.

The importance of staying hydrated

Staying healthily hydrated means that you’re maintaining your body’s natural water balance. Your everyday optimal performance depends on keeping that balance right, so you should replace all fluid that you lose. As over half of your body is made up of water, all of your functions depend on there being enough. By knowing the best ways to rehydrate, you can easily maintain a healthy level of hydration in your body.

Don’t forget that there are many adverse effects of dehydration so you can stay motivated to drink more water!

What are the best drinks to hydrate?

Lucky for you, there are a few drink options when you’re looking to hydrate. Because there are a range of options, you can mix and match so hydrating doesn’t get boring! We’ve listed the best drinks for you to hydrate below, so make sure to read them all.

1. Water

No surprises here. Water is always going to be one of the best drinks to hydrate. Pure water is completely natural. A half to three-quarters of our bodies are made up of water, so when we start to lose some of it (ie: dehydration), what do you think it should be replaced with? There’s no arguing with that.

Take a look at how much water we should be drinking.

2. Milk & milk alternatives

One scientific study . has suggested that milk is right up there with the most hydrating drinks. This is because it contains the mineral sodium - an electrolyte also found in rehydration solutions such as Dioralyte. Along with the natural amounts of sugar (lactose), protein and fat also found in milk, this slows the amount of urine we pass and therefore can keep us hydrated for longer. As milk also contains calcium and vitamin D, it’s generally an all-round healthy drink to help hydration levels.

If you’re not into dairy, you should be able to find a milk alternative to suit your taste buds. They generally have fewer calories, fat and protein than milk (although soy milk has roughly the same amount of protein, and coconut milk may contain more fat). You can also go for the ones with added calcium, but best avoid those with lots of added sugar.

If you’re ok with dairy in principle and just want to avoid lactose, then lactose-free milk is your best bet as it has the same nutrient value than normal milk. Instead of lactose, it contains lactase - the enzyme that dairy-tolerant people produce that breaks down lactose in their bodies.

3. Fruit and herb-infused water

Adding a slice of fresh fruit or aromatic herb to your water is an ideal way to add a bit of extra taste while staying healthy. While a slice of lemon, ginger or mint remain the favourites, why not try some different combinations - such as strawberry, lime and basil or grapefruit and rosemary?

4. Fruit juice

That’s 100% fruit juice, not the stuff made from concentrate. Also, while the real stuff is best as it contains lots of vitamins and minerals, it does contain a fair amount of sugar - around 8-9g per 100ml. Therefore we’re advised to keep our daily intake down to roughly one small glass a day.

Find out more about the amount of sugar in fruit juices and smoothies.

5. Sports drinks

Not to be confused with energy drinks (such as Red Bull), isotonic sports drinks (such as Lucozade Sport, Powerade and Gatorade) are one of the best ways to rehydrate while exercising. While drinking water is sufficiently hydrating for light and moderate exercise, isotonic drinks are what you need if you’re exercising for over an hour or you haven’t eaten in a fair while.

Decent isotonic drinks should contain around 50mg per 100ml of that old hydration favourite, sodium, along with smaller amounts of other electrolytes such as potassium and chloride, and around 6-8% should be a carbohydrate solution (that’s where the sugar is - around 6g per 100ml). This ideal combination will help give you energy and replenish what you lose in sweat but, because of all the sugar, isn’t great for you if you’re not exercising.

6. Coconut Water

Coconut water has been called the natural sports drink as it contains all the essential electrolytes: sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. It generally has more potassium than sports drinks and, at around 4-6g per 100ml, slightly less sugar. Coconut water contains far less sodium though so it’s no substitute if you’re into serious exercise. But that amount of sugar, while less than most soft drinks and fruit juices, is still one to watch if you’re not burning it off.

7. Tea

While you don’t want to be drinking too much regular tea all day, as the caffeine may make you pee more and get dehydrated, herbal tea can be a great way to help stay healthily hydrated as, like normal tea, it’s full of antioxidants that can help fight off harmful free radicals that could contribute to diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Green tea is particularly great for antioxidants and has less caffeine than black tea. Decaf tea has obvious advantages over regular tea, but its antioxidant power isn’t so great.

If you’re intrigued by tea, discover our article on 30 things you didn’t know about caffeine.

The 8 worst drinks to hydrate

While most things are fine in moderation, there are some drinks that are less than ideal when you’re trying to find the best ways to rehydrate. Check out some of the worst drinks you can have when trying to stay hydrated:

1. Soft drinks

Most soft or fizzy drinks are packed full of tooth-rotting and weight-adding sugar, and some also have caffeine.

2. Beer, wine and spirits

Alcohol can have a diuretic effect, meaning that it can make you pee more often. Although this can affect some people more than others, anything diuretic will hinder your healthy hydration.

3. Hot chocolate

Although you’re only likely to drink a steaming mug of hot chocolate when it’s cold and you’re not losing more body fluid than usual through sweat, the bad news is that calorific hot chocolate can contain more sugar than a can of pop. Sorry!

4. Coffee

We’re not going to tell anyone they shouldn’t enjoy a lovely cup of coffee, but we would heed advice and not to drink too much of it. Excess caffeine can have a number of negative effects, from making you pee more, to stopping you sleeping, to upping your anxiety – although this does vary from person to person.

5. Lemonade

Why is lemonade on the naughty list? To counteract the naturally bitter taste of lemon, a huge amount of sugar is added to lemonade to make it sweet. It’s enough to make your teeth cringe. Maybe stick to a nice slice of lemon in your water.

6. Energy Drinks

As we mentioned above, when talking about sports drinks, you shouldn’t get your Red Bull confused with your Lucozade Sport. While sports drinks like Lucozade Sport, Powerade and Gatorade are isotonic (made for drinking during long sessions of heavy exercise) energy drinks are hypertonic (designed for post-exercise). Hypertonic drinks are more than 10% carbohydrate - that’s a lot of sugar and salt.

Most soft drinks are hypertonic, including Coke, Pepsi and lemonade. While they may give you an immediate rehydration sensation when you gulp them down after you’ve been exercising, all that sugar and salt will do you no good if you haven’t been active.

7. Flavoured milk

We’ve extolled the nutritional virtues of milk above, but when you start to head towards the flavoured varieties, then that simply means that more sugar has been added. And we don’t need to keep banging on about why added sugar is bad for you, do we?

8. Smoothies

It’s true, sorry. You think that smoothies are all well and good because of the fruit, right? Well, depending on what’s in them, some may be good as a post-exercise protein hit and most will be full of vitamins. But, more often than not, they’ll also be packed with ‘free sugars’ that are released when fruit and veg are juiced or blended. It’s that same sweet enemy again. The same rule as fruit juice above applies - stick to one small glass a day.

We already know that your body is constantly expelling water, making you dehydrated, and these sugar-filled drinks don’t help! Find out all the ways your body loses water throughout the day.

How to know when you’re dehydrated

The best way to rehydrate and stay hydrated is to stave off thirst by sipping water throughout the day, little and often. If you’re exercising or it’s hot, then you should up your intake to replace the extra fluid your body’s losing. Barring any health issues, your body does a great job at maintaining its natural water balance and, if you listen, it will tell when you need to drink more water. Nature’s best indicator is the colour of your pee - it should be clear or pale yellow, anything darker means you need to rehydrate.

What are the symptoms of dehydration?

Knowing when you’re dehydrated is important, so you know when your body needs a little more TLC. Here are the main symptoms of dehydration, according to the NHS

  • Feeling thirsty
  • Dark yellow and strong-smelling urine
  • Feeling tired
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • A dry mouth, lips and eyes
  • Urinating little, and fewer than four times a day

How does dehydration happen?

Other than not drinking enough water, there are some other ways that dehydration can occur. Dehydration can happen more easily if you have:

  • Diabetes
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Sweated too much after exercising
  • Drunk too much alcohol
  • Been taking medicines that make you pee more (diuretics)
  • Been in the sun too long (heatstroke)
  • A high temperature of 38C or more

It's important to know why you feel so thirsty , so you can avoid dehydration. Check out article on this and make sure to discover eight ways you can drink more water .

While we’ve listed all the most hydrating drinks, we’ll always stand by our number one choice - water. It’s only natural! While the odd little cup of all the other drinks are absolutely fine (we love our morning coffee!), you should always remember that your body has its natural levels of water, salt and sugar and will work best when that balance is maintained. Why create trouble by constantly adding too much sugar or too much salt? The problem with most drinks, other than water, is that they contain unnatural levels of sugar and salt, while pure water has all the healthy natural minerals you need. Some of us will also try to cut down on dairy and caffeine, so, again, water always comes out on top. We don’t think you can beat it.

For deliciously crisp water to rehydrate your body, discover why having a home water system is just like having mineral water on tap

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