The Thinker

The virtues (and drawbacks) of flavored water

For us weight conscious people, drinking something with zero calories is preferred to drinking something loaded with calories. Dietitians will often suggest consuming plenty of water. Drinking water can help us feel full and thus may make us less inclined to eat. Staying fully hydrated is considered a healthy practice and good for the body. Therefore, I have been trying to drink more water, even if it has the side effect of having me run to the bathroom more often.

Is there a link between liberally drinking water and weight loss? I wondered about this. A shrink I used to see was a big proponent of drinking water. He told me he used to be overweight. Part of his strategy was to keep drinking water. He would constantly sip from bottled water during our therapy sessions.

There is one problem about drinking water: whether it comes from the tap or a bottle, it does not taste that interesting. A cold and refreshing glass of water can be invigorating, but it does not have much in the way of taste. Since we often feel fully hydrated even when we are not, it is easy to forget to drink water. That is what I noticed after a couple weeks of trying the full hydration strategy. There was too much going on to constantly remind myself to imbibe.

There are all sorts of zero or low calories drinks on the market. Each has some drawbacks. At home, I drink Crystal Light. While it is certainly less caloric than soda, it is hardly calorie free. While it has only 5 calories per serving, the manufacturer considers two ounces of water (a quarter of a cup) to be a serving, which is ridiculous. This means that one container of Crystal Light concentrate (which makes two quarts) actually contains 320 calories. On an active day, I can drink half a gallon of water without a problem, which means if I am drinking Crystal Light, I have also consumed 320 extra calories. There are plenty of zero calorie beverages out there, but even the zero calorie sodas are not necessarily good for you, considering that they are also acidic.

At a party a few years ago, I was introduced to flavored water. I found it to be a happy medium. Unlike ordinary water, it had some taste, but it did not have any calories nor the amount of acid that you find in sodas. It does have a number of sugar substitutes and depending on the brand, natural and/or artificial flavors. When our local superstore started offering flavored water in bulk, I picked up a case. Now I buy a case of flavored water every week or two. In addition to drinking flavored water at home, I usually take a bottle or two to work with me.

Flavored water is not for everyone. Sometimes the taste is a bit off or a bit too artificial. My wife handed them out to her friends at a party she hosted, and no one wanted a second. I have been drinking Fruit2O, which like Crystal Light, is yet another brand from Kraft Foods. While I would probably not prefer these flavored waters to their calorie-laden equivalents, I do like that they do not have any calories.

I have also found that flavored water does a decent job of suppressing my appetite. I eat a light breakfast in the morning. A bottle of flavored water consumed over the morning can carry me over to lunch quite well. In fact, often I am not particularly hungry by lunchtime. Having the taste of something in my mouth all morning provides the illusion that I am consuming something of substance, even if it is only just water.

Mind you, aside from the water there is nothing healthful or nutritious in flavored water. They are not loaded with vitamins and minerals, which most of us do not need anyhow. Moreover, depending on how safe you think artificial sweeteners like sucralose (Splenda) are, there might be some small risk consuming a lot of flavored water. Nonetheless, I am finding that flavored water is part of an effective weight management strategy. I consider it one reason I have lost a few pounds over the last few weeks.

Water from your tap is probably the safest form of potable water since it is treated. Most forms of bottled water are just filtered. Some might consider any kind of bottled water to be anti-environmental. Tap water has one big environmental advantage: it does not have to be transported on carbon producing trucks. Instead, plain old water pressure moves it from the water treatment plant to your house. Nor does tap water come in clear plastic bottles that may or may not end up recycled. While I am mindful of these environmental consequences from any form of bottled water, nonetheless they are not enough to dissuade me from keeping up the flavored water habit. My plastic bottles always end up in the recycling bin anyhow, even if they are transported by trucks.

You might want to consider drinking lots of water as part of an overall weight management strategy. In addition, if you find that ordinary tap and bottled water a bit too boring, you might want to try flavored water.


One Response to “The virtues (and drawbacks) of flavored water”

  1. 1:08 am on May 12 2007, Logan said:

    Try Metromint mint waters….This stuff is amazing, and all natural. It’s mostly all I drink!

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