Ask The Diet Doctor: Should You Drink Flavored Water?
Read our expert's take on the vitamins and nutrients found in Gatorade G2, Powerade, and other flavored waters to see if they're worth drinking
Every day, we're presented with new, potentially better-for-us options when it comes to re-fueling after our intense training sessions. Flavored and micronutrient enhanced water is the latest option to enter the market. These drinks fall somewhere between water and a traditional sports drink. Should you use them? First, let's look at what the three most popular drinks are offering you.
Zero-calorie VitaminWater offers flavored waters that are enhanced with a variety of select vitamins and minerals. Depending on the flavor you select, a bottle of VitaminWater Zero will contain 6 to 150 percent of the recommended daily value for a combination of the following vitamins and minerals: potassium, vitamin A, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin B5, zinc, chromium, and magnesium. (Did you know Vitamin D May Improve Athletic Performance?)
Low-calorie Gatorade, G2 Low Calorie, is slightly different from VitaminWater Zero, as it contains 30 calories per 12 oz (and 7g of sugar) and is enhanced only with electrolytes, potassium, and sodium.
Powerade Zero is more similar to VitaminWater Zero, as it contains zero calories and is enhanced with the electrolytes-sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, as well as vitamins B3, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. (Find out The Truth About Vitamin B12 Injections.)
With all these flavored water options containing subtle differences, it can be confusing to determine which is best for you, or whether you should just drink water? If you exercise long enough (more than 60 minutes) and are sweating a significant amount, thus losing key minerals called electrolytes, then the use of a flavored zero calorie beverage to replace these lost key nutrients during exercise is recommended. In this case a flavored water with electrolytes is better than plain water. (See what the Diet Doctor has to say about Restoring Electrolytes.)
However, the use of flavored water over regular water after exercise is more of a matter of personal preference. The lost electrolytes lost during exercise will be replenished once you eat your next meal. And the other non-electrolyte vitamins and minerals provided in these kinds of drinks are not generally nutrients of concern in women's diets as a whole, so you'll get adequate levels of these vitamins and minerals simply by eating a well-rounded and healthy diet. B-vitamins are added to sports and energy drinks with the claim that they help your body convert food to energy. While this is true, it is a misleading truth, as this is not energy that you feel, like with caffeine-it's chemical energy that your cells use. There is also no evidence to show that taking in extra B-vitamins will give your cells a greater ability to produce energy. (Check out 7 Caffeine-Free Drinks for Energy.)
So, whether you drink a sports drinks, flavored water, or plain ol' H2O, the most important thing to do post-work is simply hydrate. Bottoms up!