Enhanced Water: Nutritious or just trendy?
By Susan Shinn
Water, water everywhere ó and a heckuva lot to drink. The market for “enhanced waters” is exploding these days. You’ve got vitamin water, protein water, water with fiber, water with caffeine.
Are all these choices actually good for you, or is it better just to drink plain ol’ water?
Local nutrition and fitness gurus agree ó plain ol’ water still provides the best nutritional value.
Those of us who’ve been on Weight Watchers know that drinking water is one of the bedrock principles of the program, along with eating a healthy diet and exercising.
Margie Hartley, a longtime Weight Watchers leader, notes that water helps maintain kidney function, and protects the body against dehydration. After all, she says, the majority of the body is made up of, you guessed it: water.
But there is a limit to what water can do for you, she notes. “It won’t flush out fat, and you can drink too much and mess up your electrolytes.”
Drinking six to eight glasses of water a day is part of the Weight Watchers plan. Once you get started with drinking water, she says, it’s not a hard habit to maintain.
Along with enhanced water, mix-ins are also popular at the moment. Sugar-free mix-ins ó among them Weight Watchers brand, Crystal Light, even Hawaiian Punch ó give you only about 5-10 calories per serving ó not bad, Hartley says.
She also suggests adding lemon to water or sweetener for a change of pace. She tells members that if you drink water when you go out to eat instead of ordering a beverage, you can save enough money to pay for your monthly meetings.
Water can also help assuage hunger.
“A lot of times, members think they’re hungry when they’re really thirsty,” she says. “If you feel hungry, drink a glass of water ó you may just be thirsty.”
Ester Hoeben, fitness director for the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA, thinks enhanced water is a good way to go for those who don’t like drinking plain water. But, Hoeben says, watch the calories.
“Personally, I think plain water is the way to go,” she says. “I don’t care for the taste of enhanced water.”
Michelle Henrickson, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with Rowan Regional Medical Center, thinks enhanced water is just a trend.
“Most people, if they’re taking a multivitamin, they’re going to get the nutrition they need,” she says.
As with any other food or beverage you consume, you have to read the label on enhanced water.
At 125 calories and $1.59 per bottle, Vitaminwater, for example, is an expensive ó and caloric ó way to stay hydrated.
Henrickson calls Propel Invigorating Water with caffeine an oxymoron.
“Caffeine is a diuretic,” she says. “It causes the body to lose water.”
Then there are products such as Special K’s K20 and the South Beach Living On the Go mix-in ó both of which have protein and fiber.
There are healthier ways, Henrickson says, to get protein and fiber in your diet.
“It’s a matter of choice, but I think there are some wonderful marketers out there, and I don’t know if it’s a nutritional advantage,” Henrickson says. “Water is zero calories. When you start looking at calories, for most people, 50 or 100 calories is going to sneak up and hinder weight-loss efforts.”
Still, Henrickson understands the popularity of enhanced water.
“As Americans,” she says, “we want things that are trendy. It all comes down to eating right and exercising and drinking water.”
Plain ol’ water.
Contact Susan Shinn at 704-797-4289 or firstname.lastname@example.org.