What is your “go to” hydration beverage when you work out? For many people, it’s water. Water is a “must.” You can get by without eating for weeks but you won’t last more than a few days without the universal liquid. Fluid requirements go up when you exercise. After all, you’re losing water through your skin as you sweat. So, keeping up with your body’s fluid requirements is essential.
Unless you’re exercising for more than 90 minutes, water is an acceptable rehydration beverage. You can hydrate with water out of the faucet or you can get fancy and drink one of the “premier” waters that are now widely available. It’s easy to get sucked in by the pretty labels and sophisticated marketing but much of the water with a price tag is no better than what you get from your faucet. Here are five types of water that are overhyped.
At least you can say the bottles are pretty – yet, according to Consumer Reports, more than 40% of bottled is pulled straight from the faucet. To be fair, the water is purified, but it’s still tap water and it carries a hefty price tag. Plus, bottled water usually comes in a plastic bottle manufactured with BPA, a type of resin that may disrupt hormones. Some experts believe that endocrine disrupters like BPA are partially to blame for the obesity epidemic as they can mimic hormones, including estrogen. Studies show BPA from bottles can leach into the fluid, especially when the bottles are in a hot environment, like a warehouse. So, even if the water is clean when it’s packaged, it may have traces of BPA by the time you drink it.
Oxygenated water – ever heard of it? Marketers of this overhyped water claim it improves exercise performance by boosting oxygen delivery to your muscles. The claim is that this “super performance” water contains 7 times the oxygen of plain water. While oxygen delivery to muscles is a good thing, oxygenated water likely has little or no impact on exercise performance, according to the Penn State Sports Medicine newsletter. The problem is the oxygen in oxygenated water never reaches your muscles. When you open the bottle, a portion of the oxygen is released and the rest will be absorbed by the walls of your stomach and digestive tract when you drink it.
Still not convinced? The University of Wisconsin put these over-hyped beverages to the test. Twelve healthy, college guys and gals drank 16 ounces of either tap water or oxygenated water. Afterward, each group ran on a treadmill. The results? There were no differences in performance, blood pressure, heart rate, or lactic acid build-up. Although this study is small, it also doesn’t make physiological sense and oxygenated water is unsupported by science. Plus, you’ll pay a pretty penny to drink it.
Yes, we need vitamins, but do we need to get them from water? Not hardly. The best way to get your vitamins and minerals is by eating whole foods. Vitamin water is plain water, usually from a tap, with synthetic vitamins added to it. There’s typically plenty of sugar or artificial sweeteners as well. Some vitamin water also contains additives like food coloring – but beware. Some vitamin water manufacturers have received warnings about making misleading claims about vitamin water. Do you really need to get vitamins from the water you drink? That’s what food is for. So, skip the vitamin water in its BPA-laden bottle.
Tap water usually has a neutral pH, around pH 7. Alkaline water is more alkaline or basic. Human blood is actually slight basic, around a pH of 7.4. Some alternative practitioners believe that health problems arise when the blood becomes too acidic through diet and alkaline water help neutralize the acid. However, drinking alkaline water won’t make your blood more alkaline or neutral. Blood pH is closely controlled by your lungs and kidneys. You won’t sway your blood pH at all by sipping alkaline water – you’ll just drink an overpriced and overhyped beverage.
Spring water sounds like a purer alternative to tap water but it can be contaminated too. Spring water typically isn’t bottled at the source it comes from. Instead, it’s pumped into a tank and sent to a bottling facility. Once on site, it can be chlorinated to prevent the growth of bacteria. You sometimes see spring water described as “artesian” water. It sounds fancy but it’s not necessarily purer than tap water. On the plus side, spring water may contain more natural minerals compared to what comes out of your tap. Again, it frequently comes in a plastic bottle. Spring water isn’t as “scammy” as some of the other water alternatives out there but it’s not necessarily as pristine as you think.
The Bottom Line
Paying extra for bottled water won’t improve your health or exercise performance. There’s nothing “magical” about water in a plastic bottle, no matter what the ads tell you. If you’re concerned about impurities in tap water, a water purifier is a good investment, especially when you tally up how much water in a bottle costs. If you drink only one bottle of water a day, you could be spending as much as $60.00 a month. That money could go toward a water purifier.
Is a water purifier worth it? If your water has a strange odor or taste, it might be. Plus, tap water is treated with chlorine and the organic matter in water reacts with chlorine to form disinfection by-products. These aren’t healthy, although the levels in many areas aren’t high enough to be dangerous. Another concern is that prescription drugs are sometimes found in low levels in drinking water. Be mindful of what you put your water in as well. Plastic bottles aren’t good for your health or the environment. If you like to carry water with you, invest in a stainless steel water bottle.
What if plain water doesn’t do it for you? If your water tastes a little too “boring,” jazz it up with slices of fruit, herbs, or veggies like cucumber. Fruit, veggie, and herb infused water are popular. Check out some of the recipes for making it online. You definitely DO need to hydrate but you don’t have to get fancy to do it.
Consumer Reports. “Knowing Where Your Bottled Water Comes From”
ACE Fitness. “American Council on Exercise (ACE) Study Investigates Super Oxygenated Water Claims”
PSU.edu. “Super-Oxygenated Water Is Latest Sports Scam”
Mayo Clinic. “Is alkaline water better for you than plain water?”
Raw Food Scientist. “The alkaline diet – myths, benefits and the real reason it works”
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