View Full Version : H20 vs. Others

09-06-2002, 09:00 AM
This may seem like a dumb question but I don't know the answer.

I understand the benifits of drinking lots of water. But what makes drinking water better than drinking diet pop or other no calorie drinks? Do they not have the same benifits as drinking lots of water? They are after all mainly water themselves.

09-06-2002, 09:18 AM
There is no better replacement for water than water. You need water to sustain your body's many vital chemical reactions and maintain correct body temperature. Water also rehydrates you because during a workout, water is lost as perspiration (and expired air), and this can lead to dehydration if fluids are not replaced. Another plus -- drinking water before and during physical activity can enhance your athletic performance. (For more information, read archived Alice: Best thing to drink before a workout? After?).

Diet sodas are not an okay replacement for water. Diet sodas, particularly caffeinated ones, are not recommended for quenching your thirst and replacing fluids lost from exercise. Consider moderating your ingestion of foods and drinks containing aspartame (nutrasweet), the artificial sweetener in diet sodas, because its effects on health from long-term use are uncertain as of yet (check out archived Alice: Risks of aspartame). Also try to avoid caffeine because its action as a diuretic exacerbates dehydration.

If you still like or want to drink a carbonated beverage before, during, and/or after a workout, as an alternative, try sodium-free (because sodium promotes water retention) seltzer water instead. If you find seltzer bland-tasting or tasteless, enhance its flavor with some lemon or lime juice, or purchase one that has already been flavored (artificially) with fruit essence. Of course, if you prefer to stick with good 'ol water and would like it to tantalize your taste buds once in a while, add a little bit of fruit juice for a beverage with more flavor, sweetness, and oomph.

Fluid replacement drinks developed specifically for active lifestyles are also commercially available. These prepared sports beverages are 5% glucose solutions. Since drinks containing at least 2.5% (in water) of a simple sugar (i.e., glucose, fructose, and sucrose) significantly slow down the rate at which they are emptied from the stomach, rehydration is delayed. Consequently, it is not advised to consume these beverages during high endurance physical activity and/or exercise in the heat, when the need for water is primary to carbohydrate replenishment.

Finally, Alice noticed that you drink quite a lot of diet soda on a daily basis -- two liters plus is equivalent to at least 5 - 6 twelve ounce cans of soda! Carbonated soft drinks are high in phosphorus. Phosphorus appears to compete with calcium for bone, thereby limiting its absorption; in other words, bone loss may be greater than bone maintenance and/or formation, so that net bone density/mass would be less than optimal. This is particularly negative for women's health because of osteoporosis (see archived Alice: Women, calcium, and osteoporosis? and Calcium and osteoporosis). In general, women drink more diet soda than men and, unfortunately, diet soda (empty calories) may be replacing milk, the best dietary source of calcium and other essential vitamins and minerals, which may be another reason for increased osteoporosis risk for women. If you are a woman, consider consuming less diet soda, either by cutting back intake gradually, or by replacing it with other (non-soda) beverages. If you find it difficult to cut back on your soda intake, make sure you include plenty of rich sources of calcium in your diet, such as low-fat dairy products and green leafy vegetables, to reduce your risk for osteoporosis later on in life.