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Healthy and fit on the go: Better beverages

What we drink throughout the day affects our health and the environment. Use these tips to choose better beverages throughout the day.

Drink more water

Water is the best choice of beverage to meet your daily fluid needs. The amount of water you drink depends on your activity level, the climate and other sources of fluid in your diet. Water is free, has no calories, is sugar-free and contains no added sodium.

There is no hard and fast rule for how much water to drink each day. Follow your body’s cues and drink when you’re thirsty. If you are physically active, you may need more water to replace fluid you lose in sweat. Drink water frequently during hard physical activity. Heat will also lead to fluid loss so drink water more frequently when the temperature is high. There is such a thing as drinking too much water so be sure to balance your water intake with food and rest breaks.

Choosing and cleaning water bottles

Use a BPA-free plastic, glass, porcelain or stainless steel bottle filled with plain tap water. It’s better for the environment (and your budget) compared to individual disposable plastic bottles.

Clean your water bottle daily. Use dish soap and water, rinse thoroughly and air dry. After cleaning, you can sanitize your bottle by filling it with water and 3-4 drops of household bleach. Leave the bleach water in the bottle for about 10 seconds, then dump it out and let it air dry.

Choose your beverages wisely

Think about all the beverages you consume on a daily basis. What do you drink at each meal? What do you drink in between meals? Many of the beverages we consume contain added sugar and extra calories. Try replacing one or two added-sugar beverages with plain water each day and see if that makes a difference in how you feel. It may even lead to weight loss!

Nutrition facts

  • Calories, sugar and fat from beverages can add up quickly because liquid is not as filling or satisfying to your body as solid food.
  • Read the nutrition facts label. Look at the number of servings in the package. Many beverage containers hold 2 servings or more. The nutrition facts list the amount of calories and sugar per serving so if you drink the whole bottle, multiply the calories by the number of servings.
  • Sweeteners that add calories include sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, honey, syrup, sucrose and dextrose.
  • Sports drinks aren’t necessary during or after most physical activity. Water is best for rehydrating before, during, and after exercise.
  • Energy drinks are often high in calories, caffeine, and herbal supplements, and may cause unintended health consequences.

Additional tips

  • Drink water. Keep a pitcher in the refrigerator for convenience.
  • Add flavor variety with lemon, lime, melon or cucumber slices.
  • Choose low-fat or fat-free milk.
  • If you drink juice, make it 100 percent juice (with pulp for fiber). Limit the amount of juice you drink and eat whole fruit instead.
  • Drink coffee and tea black or with low-fat or fat-free milk.
  • When you have a soft drink, choose the smallest size available.
  • Make your own soda with sparkling mineral water and fruit juice.

Reviewed by Jimmie Johnson, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2023

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