The Pros and Cons of “Enhanced” Waters
The next time you’re feeling parched, today’s stores offer far more than just plain old water to quench your thirst. The number of “enhanced” waters out there — from vitamin waters to energy drinks to protein waters — continue to grow, and each one promises new and improved health benefits over traditional tap water. But does the hype stand up to scrutiny?
Pros and Cons of Vitamin Water
- Most brands offer promises to “energize” or “refresh” through a blend of vitamins, minerals and herbal additives.
- It may help fill any nutritional gaps in your diet without the need of carrying vitamin pills with you or mixing powders into your water at the gym.
- The different flavors can encourage you to drink more and stay hydrated (some people find plain water boring and uninspiring).
- Most products are extremely high in sugar (30+ grams of sugar in a bottle is not uncommon) or, if they’re not full of sugar, they often rely on artificial sweeteners that many health-conscious people try to avoid.
- It’s a pricy form of supplementation. Per dose, buying a multivitamin or supplement in pill or powder form is often cheaper than buying a premixed beverage.
- Over-reliance on vitamin waters can lead to high levels of vitamin A, vitamin E and other fat-soluble vitamins. Too much of these vitamins in your system can lead to health problems.
Pros and Cons of Energy Drinks
- Energy drinks can provide a quick pick-me-up. Specifically for athletes, the caffeine may help improve focus, endurance and strength when you’re exercising.
- These drinks can save you time, since they’re conveniently ready to go (no need to wait for coffee to brew!).
- Some energy drinks include additional additives, such as herbal supplements, to further boost performance.
- Taking caffeine over a long period of time can lead to tolerance, so you don’t get the same boost in the gym that you used to.
- Caffeine can affect your body’s natural sleep-wake cycles, and poor quality sleep can lead to an increase in the hormone cortisol (which is linked with muscle loss and fat gain).
- Many energy drinks are very high in sugar and other sweeteners.
Pros and Cons of Protein Water
- Protein water keeps you hydrated while also delivering a full serving of protein, which can help with appetite control, muscle growth, and exercise recovery.
- These pre-made shakes let you grab-and-go on your way to and from the gym instead of having to deal with messy protein powders and mixing it together in the locker room.
- Some protein waters include additional supplements, like creatine, to further improve your exercise results.
- Many pre-mixed protein products are high in sugars and filler, which you may want to avoid.
- It’s often harder to find niche or specialized forms of protein, such as hydrolyzed whey protein, in a pre-made product.
The Final Verdict
Don’t be lured in by fancy marketing and shiny labels. No matter what these enhanced beverages promise you, always take the following steps before buying it:
- Check the nutrition facts. Many products masquerade as a healthy fitness product but contain high levels of sugar and other ingredients that could sabotage your workout goals.
- Read the ingredients label if you’re trying to avoid certain things, such as artificial colouring, or if you’re looking for a specific form of a specific supplement.
- Consider the costs. Often, taking the supplements WITH water, versus drinking a water infused with these supplements, will save you a lot of money. Only you can decide if the convenience is worth the trade-offs.