Keeping your body hydrated is important as the temperature rises; not just to quench your thirst but also to rehydrate after physical activities on hot summer days. Obviously, water is the best option. But the good news is, there are other delicious, low-sugar beverages that can serve as an alternative to water. These refreshing drinks will also supply needed nutrients, antioxidants, and probiotics while bringing a burst of flavour.
1. Workout essential: Coconut water
Fresh coconut water is one of the most sought after drinks when tourists travel to South East Asian countries. So when coconut water was bottled, it instantly became a popular drink worldwide. Undoubtedly, coconut water is one of the best hydrating summer drinks. It is very low in calories and can provide some electrolytes needed during a workout. One cup of coconut water provides about 470 mg of potassium and 30 mg of sodium. In general, coconut water can serve as a sports drink for short-duration workouts. As some people prefer the taste of the liquid from a young coconut while others prefer it from a mature one, it is best to check the label when choosing your coconut water drink.
One cup (245 mL) of coconut water provides:
Calories: ~ 50
2. Energy boost: Natural fruit juice
Right before an outdoor activity, make sure your body has all the fuel it needs. If you didn’t eat enough earlier, the quickest way to provide energy to your body is to drink natural fruit juices. Natural sugar from fruit juice can fuel your body within 30 minutes. If you can juice with a juicer using fresh fruits at home, that’s the best option as you can ensure that only the best ingredients are used. Otherwise, if you’re out and about, try choosing freshly squeezed juice instead of commercially bottled juice. Commercial juices are sometimes added with extra flavorings and treated with heat for pasteurization; they have a longer shelf life but also tastes a little different due to the heat treatment. Cold-pressed juices, on the other hand, are a better-tasting option. The juice is slowly squeezed or crushed in a hydraulic press juicer instead of a high-speed, heat-generating juicer. Some claim that more nutrients, such as vitamin C, can be preserved in cold-pressed juice; however, the difference is not significant. Compared to conventional juice, calories and sugar levels don’t differ either. Regardless of which fruit juice you choose, make sure it’s freshly squeezed, or at least choose a product that contains 100% natural fruit juice.
One cup of orange juice provides:
Sugar: 20.8g (all natural sugar from fruit)
3. Post-workout snack: Cow’s milk or soy milk
After a workout, it’s best to replenish your body with some protein. It will help repair muscle damage and rebuild muscles; milk and soy milk is ideal for this purpose. If you don’t have enough time to grab a bite after your workout, drinking milk is a great alternative since both options are readily available at most convenient stores. A cup of cow’s milk provides ~8 grams of protein whereas a cup of unsweetened soy milk provides ~ 6 to 9 grams depending on the brand.
One cup of cow’s milk provides:
Sugar: 11.3g (natural lactose in milk)
One cup of unsweetened soy milk provides:
4. Gut health-friendly: Kefir
I reckon that the name sounds quite intimidating. But the simplest way to explain kefir is that it’s similar to a yogurt drink. Kefir is a fermented milk beverage; the name Kefir comes from the Turkish word “keyif”, which refers to the "good feeling" a person feels after drinking it. While yogurt is made from bacteria fermentation of milk, kefir is a combination of bacteria plus yeast fermentations. Kefir is quite tangy and thick in mouthfeel, and it’s often unsweetened or only lightly-flavoured. Nutritionally, it is a nutrient-dense drink to help supplement your body with extra protein and gut health-friendly probiotics into your diet.
One cup of kefir provides:
5. Zero calories: Iced tea
For those who prefer a burst of zero-calorie flavour on a hot summer day, iced tea is a sound option. Supermarkets and convenience stores have numerous bottled tea products without added sugar or artificial flavouring. Just remember to double check the ingredient list. In general, you want to see only one ingredient on the label - and that is “tea” only. Alternately, you can always brew your own iced tea. Prepare 8 cups hot water in a large jug, add 3 tablespoons loose tea leaves (or 6 tea bags). Steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove leaves or tea bags and let cool, cover and refrigerate.
One cup of home-brewed iced tea provides:
Gloria Tsang - Registered Dietitian