It’s summertime, and that hot sun is making you thirsty and zapping your energy. Nothing sounds better than an icy cold drink.
Before you reach for an energy drink, you should know that many experts say they aren’t a good way to hydrate. In fact, the Mayo Clinic says you may find that their sweeteners, preservatives and other ingredients can cause health problems.
The Caffeine Kick
Caffeine is often the main ingredient in soft drinks and energy drinks. While a small amount may boost your mood or help you focus, large amounts can increase health risks. Overconsumption may cause heart palpitations, shaking and dizziness.
Earlier this year, the American College of Sports Medicine put out guidelines that recommend avoiding energy drinks before, during or after physical activity.
They also say these energy drinks may be particularly unsafe for children and teens — especially if they drink them quickly and have more than one at a time.
Whatever your age, you should avoid mixing energy drinks with alcohol. Those drinks may make it harder for people to tell their level of intoxication. This leads them to drink more and for a longer time.
Your whole body, from your organs to your individual cells, needs water to work right. We get most of the fluids we need from water and other drinks. We get about 20 percent of our fluids from food.
What should you drink for hydration? Plain water is always a good choice, and it doesn’t add calories, caffeine or artificial ingredients. Do you need sports drinks and the electrolytes they contain? Probably not, unless you are doing hard exercise.
Recommendations for daily fluid intake vary, and it depends on things like where you live, how active you are and your health status.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends the following amounts of daily fluid intake for the average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate:
- About 125 ounces for men
- About 68 ounces for women
This recommendation includes the amount we get from food. This is a general guideline, and what you need may be different.
If you think you may not be getting enough water, try these tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Carry a water bottle. Freeze the bottle if you prefer cold water.
- Choose water instead of drinks with sugar or caffeine.
- Drink water when you eat out. You will save money and calories.
- Add a citrus wedge to your water. It may improve the taste and help you drink more.
Avoid Dehydration During Summer Activity
It’s important to get enough water before, during and after exercise or other activity. It’s especially important to drink enough water in warmer weather.
Don’t wait to hydrate. When you’re feeling thirsty, you might already be dehydrated, says registered dietitian Judy Kolish.
When you don’t drink enough water, your body doesn’t work right. Watch for these signs of dehydration, especially when you work out:
- Dry mouth
- Feeling dizzy
- Nausea or vomiting
- Cramping muscles
- Lack of sweat
- Hard, fast heartbeat
Dehydration can range from mild to severe. Severe dehydration can cause you to be confused, feel weak or pass out. If you have any of these symptoms, get medical help immediately.
Don’t like water?
If you’re looking for something refreshing, the best choices are often the simplest. Nothing is easier to find or carry with you than water. And if you don’t like the taste of plain water, try sparkling water, waters infused with fruits or herbs like mint, or unsweetened teas.
Sources: Can Energy Drinks Really Boost a Person’s Energy? Mayo Clinic, 2018; Energy Drinks: A Contemporary Issues Paper, Current Sports Medicine Reports, American College of Sports Medicine, 2018; Water and Nutrition, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2016; Get the Facts: Drinking Water and Intake, CDC, 2017; Dietary Reference Intakes: Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate, Food and Nutrition Board, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2004; Hydration for Athletes, American Academy of Family Physicians, 2017; Water: How much should you drink every day? Mayo Clinic, 2017; Cut Down on Added Sugars, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2015; Tips for Avoiding Added Sugars, American Heart Association, 2015