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Food/Nutrition Columnist Author: Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN - Food and Nutrition Columnist - Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

It’s Summer – Hydrate The Right Way

By Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN - Food and Nutrition Columnist -
Jul 5, 2014 - 4:01:04 PM

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( - Approximately 13% of all drinks consumed in the U.S. are alcoholic. The remaining are: soda, bottled water, milk, coffee, fruit drinks, tea, energy drinks, vegetable juice, powdered drinks, and tap water. I'm not going to try to encourage or discourage you from drinking your favorite beverage. We'll just look at some of the issues and let you make your own decisions.

Beware of calories in a glass.

Calorie-containing clear drinks - soda, fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, coffee and tea - all have a very low satisfaction value. The more you are offered the more you drink. Up to 35% of our daily calories come from these, with soda being the single largest source of calories in the U.S. diet. Interestingly, as we've consumed more calorie-containing clear drinks over the past 3 decades, there has been a sharp rise in weight gain, too.

At the same time, the portion sizes have increased. We went from an 8 ounce bottle of Coke to unlimited soda refills served in a quart-sized glass. A small coffee has grown from 6 to 10 ounces. Add cream and sugar and your small coffee equals 100 calories. And few of us ever order "small."

How much water should you drink each day?

You may have heard the 8 X 8 rule - drink 8 servings of 8 ounces each day. It sounds good, but there is no foundation for this recommendation and no scientific evidence to support it. It can go down as another urban myth.

There is no question you do need water every day. How much? Physiologically it is based on your calorie need - 1 milliliter of water for each calorie. If you need 1,800 calories a day, you also need 1,800 milliliters of water. Translated into cups - 1 cup 240 milliliters. 240 ÷ 1,800 = 7.5 cups per day

But, these 7 ½ cups a day don't have to all be water. Solid food contains a lot of water; you get 3 to 4 cups a day from food. Other liquids like juice and soup count too. If you drink caffeinated beverages - tea, coffee, soda, energy drinks - you can count half of your intake toward your daily fluid, but not all, since the caffeine acts as a diuretic, causing you to lose some of the water. In many cases you can meet your fluid requirement without extra water. The exceptions would be during extremely hot weather or during heavy exercise when you need more fluids.

Drinking some water daily is a good habit. Water is calorie free and contains calcium, magnesium and fluoride. Plain or calorie-free flavored water is your best thirst quencher.

Should you drink bottled water?

From a nutrition standpoint, there is no advantage - water is water, as long as it is clean. But you might like the convenience, flavor or natural carbonation.

Bottled water is regulated for purity. Most bottlers belong to the International Bottled Water Association. There are no regulations, however, for enhancing bottled water and no oversight for some of the claims being made. Do you need vitamin or herbal enhanced water? Should you be paying a premium price for these miniscule additions? Does your water need to travel thousands of miles before you drink it? Did you know the sweeteners many producers put in bottled water are to mask the bitter taste of the added nutrients? If the mild taste of flavored water gets you to drink more, or if you use it in place of higher calorie fruit drinks or soda, that's fine. Paying for water with add-on is your choice, but it may not be the best investment you'll ever make.

What about alcohol?

Alcoholic drinks can be very calorie dense. If you drink alcohol before a meal, it makes you hungrier while at the same time decreasing satisfaction during eating. Some studies have shown that when alcoholic drinks are added to a meal the calorie intake can go up as much as 40%.

Don't forget milk.

A cold glass of nonfat milk has only 90 calories - less than most sweetened drinks or soda. Plus it is rich in calcium, phosphorus, protein, riboflavin (a B vitamin) and vitamin D. Non-dairy alternatives, fortified with calcium and vitamin D, can be a good milk alternative for vegetarians or those with allergies.

How do you know if you are well hydrated?

You have consumed enough fluids each day if your urine is pale or almost colorless.

© NRH Nutrition Consultants, Inc.
Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN is a registered dietitian and the author of the nutrition counter series for Pocket Books with sales of more than 8.5 million books.

Look for:

The Diabetes Counter, 5th Ed., 2014

The Fat and Cholesterol Counter, 2014

The Most Complete Food Counter, 3rd ed., 2013

The Calorie Counter, 6th Ed., 2013

The Complete Food Counter, 4th ed., 2012

The Protein Counter, 3rd Ed., 2011

The Ultimate Carbohydrate Counter, 3rd Ed., 2010

The Healthy Wholefoods Counter, 2008

Your Complete Food Counter App:

For more information on Jo-Ann and her books, go to:



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