It is 106 degrees F today in Los Angeles. I've lost count of how many cups of water I've had, and I'm still thirsty. Hydration is one of those health topics that isn't usually talked about until you get sick or the weather gets unbearably hot, but mild dehydration can happen at any point.
You've probably heard the saying "If you feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated." Before you feel thirsty you may have a headache, low energy, have trouble concentrating or even feel hungry. I usually recommend to my clients to get a reusable water bottle to keep with you and drink from it regularly, once it's empty refill it and start again.
It's best to stick with water most of the day. I've had clients tell me before that water is "boring" and they don't like to drink it, but there are ways to change up and add flavor to water that don't include a Kool-Aid packet. Try adding some sliced cucumbers, strawberries, or oranges, or even a few sprigs of mint.
A lot of times we don't realize how many calories we're taking in with our beverages, even the healthy ones (did you know 1 cup of 100% fruit juice is about 120 calories? And how often are you really measuring exactly 1 cup of your drinks?). This doesn't mean you should never drink juice or milk (or even indulge in a soda or sweetened iced tea), but I suggest the majority of your daily beverage intake be from water.
There are some no calorie drink options, like diet soda, but I'm not a huge fan of diet drinks. Sugar substitutes have been proven safe, I know there are rumors out there about them causing cancer, but scientific studies have disproved all of them. In moderation, I think sugar substitutes are a great option, but a number of them (especially aspartame, sucralose, and saccharine) are so much sweeter than sugar that using them can often cause natural sugar, including fruit, to taste less sweet and be less satisfying.
In the end with beverages, like with food, it really comes down to decreasing your intake of processed stuff. If you can't start your day without a can of soda, have the soda! Just limit it to the one can, and then switch to water.
Stay hydrated, my friends!
Taryn is a Los Angeles based Registered Dietitian who's passionate about helping you be your healthiest you.