We all know that hydration is important, but sometimes we get sick of sipping plain old water. Don’t fall into the afternoon soda trap – here are our top picks for water alternatives that won’t wreck your diet and in fact, will boost your health.
1) Flavour your own water
Switching up your daily drink can be as easy as slicing up some cucumbers or watermelon and placing them in your water bottle. Experiment with herbs and figure out your own creative combinations.
Green tea is loaded with antioxidants, which help prevent heart disease. Drinking green tea reduces LDL (harmful cholesterol) and raises HDL (good cholesterol). It contains less caffeine than coffee, making it a good afternoon pick-me-up that won’t leave you jittering.
3) Peppermint tea
Peppermint tea is a renowned stomach soother and stress-reliever. If you tend to get tense at work, try sipping at your desk. If you have trouble shutting your body down at night, try a cup before bed.
Milk is a bone-health superhero, containing calcium, potassium and vitamin D, all of which are crucial to bone development and maintenance. Runners with strong bones are at a lower risk of injuries like stress fractures.
Give your hot chocolate a healthy makeover by ditching the sugary powder and heavier dairy in favour of cocoa powder and skim, soy or almond milk. The flavanoids in cocoa have been shown to reduce blood pressure and decrease bad cholestrol while regulating blood sugar levels.
This is not water with coconut flavour added to it, but rather the fluid from the inside of a coconut. It is a great source of potassium, with one serving of coconut water beating out a medium sized banana. Coconut water is a good source of other electrolytes as well, including sodium and magnesium. Be careful to stick to varieties without added flavouring, as that will add sugar and calories.
Beet juice is a powerful drink, with the ability to lower blood pressure better than some medications. The juice is high in nitric oxide, which has been shown to increase stamina during exercise. The juice is also rich in folate, vitamin C and antioxidants. Just a heads up – beets can turn urine a reddish colour; this is not a cause for alarm.
8) Apple cider vinegar
Created through fermentation, apple cider vinegar is rich in potassium. Preliminary studies have shown that the vinegar may aid in weight loss, as the acetic acid suppresses appetite and revs up your metabolism. For the ultimate healthy drink, add 1-2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar and 1-2 tbsp of blackstrap molasses (one of the richest sources of iron out there) to 1-1/2 cups of water. If that’s too strong for your taste, mix the apple cider vinegar in a glass of grapefruit juice.
In the running world, coffee (and more specifically, caffeine) is always a hot topic. The camps often seem divided between coffee lovers and haters. The research shows that at the very least coffee is a performance enhancer for running.
Kefir is another fermented option, made from milk and yeast. It is an even better source of probiotics than yogurt and jam-packed with protein.