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Which Drinks are Best for Hydration? 5 Top Options (and What to Avoid)

man drinking water hiking

Have you ever heard that soda doesn’t hydrate you and wondered if it’s true? Or have you ever considered if there could be a better-tasting buy equally-hydrating alternative to water? We have been wondering what the best drinks are for hydration, as well as what drinks aren’t so effective, so we decided to find out.

In this article, we’ll talk about the five best and worst drinks to get and keep you hydrated. Plus, we’re going to discuss the best drinks for keeping hydrated while sick. Staying hydrated gives your body the energy and ability to fight back against sickness, so it’s important to know which drinks will help you stay the most hydrated while you’re fighting off sickness!

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The 5 Best Drinks for Staying Hydrated

We all have to stay hydrated, but some drinks are superior to others when it comes to keeping us from dehydrating. The following drinks are some of the best options to reach for when you need to get or stay hydrated.

1. Water

guy drinking water
Image Credit: sydneyra, Pixabay

Since our bodies are comprised of 60% water, it shouldn’t be surprising that plain old H20 is one of the best drinks for hydration. Most of the other drinks that are good at keeping you hydrated are water-based, so it’s pretty much king of the hydrating liquids. You need at least eight, 8-ounce glasses each day for a total of 64 ounces daily water intake. If you’re active, you’ll need even more. If it’s too plain for you, you can always add some fruit, such as lemon or lime. This will add some flavor while also providing some extra healthy vitamins.

2. Milk

milk and milk jug blue sky

Would you be surprised if we told you that milk is one of the best hydrating drinks, and that it might hydrate you better than water? Well, according to this study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, milk may be the better drink for hydration. The sugar, protein, and fat found in milk help to slow the emptying of fluid from the stomach. This keeps hydration occurring for longer, which helps you stay more hydrated overall. Plus, milk is high in sodium, which makes your body hold more water and urinate less. So next time you’re really feeling parched, try reaching for a glass of milk instead of a bottle of water.

3. Sports Drinks

powerade sports drink

If you become too dehydrated, drinking large amounts of water can actually exacerbate the issue by throwing off the balance of water to electrolytes in your body. That’s because water doesn’t have the vital minerals and electrolytes that you lose through sweating. Sports drinks do have those essential electrolytes, which is why they’re great for hydrating you. These drinks are formulated specifically to refill the electrolytes you lose through intense activity. But that also means they’re packed with sugar for an instant carbohydrate boost, so you’ll need to be careful of the excess calories you’re consuming with sugary sports drinks.

4. Coconut Water

drinking coconut

When you’re in need of electrolytes and hydration, sports drinks aren’t the only answer. Coconut water is also full of healthy and hydrating electrolytes, but it’s all-natural, unlike chemically processed sports drinks. Also, coconut water doesn’t contain anywhere near as much sugar or empty calories. More importantly, coconut water is devoid of the high-fructose corn syrup that you’ll often find in sports drinks, making it a more natural and healthier alternative.

5. No Sugar Added Fruit Juice

fresh fruit juices

Most fruit juice is loaded with excess sugars that aren’t going to help you hydrate or reach your goals. But 100% fruit juice with no sugar added is mostly water and it contains healthier sugars that come from fruit instead of processed sugars added in later. These fruits also contain plenty of vitamins and minerals that are essential for health and will help you hydrate faster.

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Which Drinks Are Worst for Hydration?

Now we’ve seen some of the best drinks for hydration, but what drinks should you stay away from when you’re feeling a bit dry? Whether you’re working, playing, or just thirsty, the following drinks are the worst for keeping you hydrated and they should be avoided when possible.

1. Soda

close up photo of a soda in a glass

A small amount of sugar can help to make a drink more hydrating by slowing down its digestion. But soda takes that too far and packs in tons of sugar that’s going to draw water in from the rest of the body when it reaches the intestine. Naturally, this results in less water for your body to utilize, creating a dehydrating effect instead of a hydrating one. Plus, soda is packed with those empty calories that add to your waist but do nothing beneficial for you.

2. Alcohol

cheers with bottles of alcohol

It may be surprising, but a lot of hangovers are caused by dehydration. This is because alcohol is a diuretic and it also removes water from your body’s tissues. If the alcohol is more than 10%, then it’s taking more liquid from your system than is being absorbed. That makes wine and hard liquor worse than beer, but they all have dehydrating effects. Don’t reach for alcohol to get you hydrated, and be sure to drink plenty of water while consuming alcohol to deter the effects of dehydration. One glass of water for each drink of alcohol you consume is a good rule of thumb.

3. Energy Drinks

hand typing on laptop with energy drink on the side

Energy drinks may seem like a great drink for sports, but they’re not great for hydration. These drinks are packed to the brim with chemicals, sugars, and caffeine. High amounts of sugar can dehydrate the body by absorbing water while in the intestines. Caffeine is a diuretic that will cause you to urinate more, reducing the amount of water inside your body even further. For energy without the empty calories and chemicals, try drinking some tea instead.

4. Coffee

hand holding a cup of coffee

On its own, coffee isn’t terrible. It is made mostly from water, but the caffeine is a diuretic that can cause you to release more water than you’re taking in. But on its own, that’s not the most detrimental to your hydration. Where coffee becomes an issue is when it’s loaded up with syrups, sugars, and flavorings. Most of the time, when you purchase a coffee drink from your favorite coffee shop, you’re getting a tasty drink that’s loaded with sugars, chemicals, and fake flavorings. While that may taste delicious, it’s not doing a lot to help your body stay hydrated. Next time, try skipping the coffee drinks loaded with syrups and sugars and opt for the plain coffee with a bit of creamer and a dash of sugar instead.

5. Sugary Drinks

sugary milkshakes

As we’ve mentioned, once sugar reaches the intestines, it starts to pull water in from the rest of the body through a process called osmosis. This removes water from your body, dehydrating you and not replenishing the lost liquids. For this reason, any sugary drinks are poor for hydration. Fruit juice that’s loaded with added sugars, chocolate milk, flavored kid’s drinks, and more, are all terrible choices for getting hydrated.

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What’s the Best Drink for Staying Hydrated While Sick?

At this point, we’ve discussed some of the best and worst drinks for maintaining hydration under normal conditions. But what about when you’re feeling under the weather? Are there any drinks that are great for hydrating while you’re sick? Luckily, there are a few options that are perfect for when you’re not feeling the best and need to keep your hydration levels high.

1. Pedialyte

Image By: Sean Freese, Flickr

Pedialyte is a drink that doctors often recommend for sick patients. It’s full of important electrolytes and minerals meant to get your body back on track and keep you hydrated. It can help you rehydrate quickly, giving your body the nutrients it needs to heal up and beat whatever sickness is wearing you down. And Pedialyte isn’t just for adults, it’s great for everyone. Prebiotics help keep your digestive system healthy while the Pedialyte quickly replenishes your fluids, zinc, and electrolytes, making it one of the best hydrating drinks while you’re sick.

2. Hot Tea

hot tea

Tea is made mostly from water, so it’s not surprising that it’s great to keep you hydrated. While you’re sick, the warmth can feel great and help to keep a cold under control. Moreover, tea has lots of antioxidants that can help your body heal quicker and feel great. Plus, a bit of tea with honey is a great remedy for a sore throat.

3. Water with Lemon

lemon water

Getting enough water can be difficult when you’re sick, so adding a little lemon can make it much more pleasurable and tasty. Lemon is also high in vitamin C, which can help you heal up and shorten the length of your cold or fever.

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When it comes to hydration, there are a ton of options available, but they’re not all created equally. While water tends to be the best drink for hydration, it turns out that milk can actually be slightly better at hydrating you because it takes longer to leave your stomach due to the added sugar, fat, and protein. On the opposite end of the spectrum, soda and alcohol are both poor choices for hydration. The high sugar content of soda and the diuretic effect of alcohol means they have the potential to dehydrate you further. Finally, if you’re sick, you should reach for the Pedialyte to provide you with the electrolytes and hydration your body needs.

Featured Image Credit: Sunti, Shutterstock


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