Ranked: Best Drinks for Hydration (and the Worst) this 2023

With the current heatwave baking Europe, you’re probably wondering what the best drinks for hydration are. Let’s face it: when the sun’s blazing, it’s easy to feel parched and fatigued. Staying hydrated isn’t just about quenching your thirst—it’s vital for keeping your body ticking along smoothly, from your brain to your muscles. 

In this article, we’ll break down the top beverages to help you stay hydrated and even call out a few drinks that aren’t as hydrating as you might think.

Importance of Hydration

Understanding the best drinks for hydration can make a significant difference in how you feel and function daily. According to a study, hydration is especially important during exercise and heat exposure, helping to maintain cardiovascular health and peak performance.

  1. Overall Health

Proper hydration is essential for almost every bodily function, from regulating body temperature to ensuring smooth digestion. To achieve this, knowing the best drinks for hydration is key.

  1. Mental Clarity

Dehydration can affect cognitive function, making concentrating hard or even causing headaches. The best drinks for hydration can alleviate these issues.

  1. Physical Performance

Optimal hydration is necessary for endurance and peak exercise performance, particularly in hot conditions. Learning about the best drinks for hydration can be a game-changer here.

  1. Temperature Regulation

Hydration helps maintain a stable internal body temperature, especially during heatwaves or intense physical activities. The best drinks for hydration play a role in this.

  1. Nutrient and Oxygen Transport

Water is a carrier for essential nutrients and oxygen to different body parts.

  1. Skin Health

Adequate hydration can help keep your skin looking plump, youthful, and less prone to dryness.

  1. Detoxification

Proper hydration helps flush toxins from your body through sweat and urine.

Best Drinks for Hydration

With so many beverage options available, how do you choose? In this section, we’ll guide you through the best drinks for hydration. You’ll learn about their hydrating abilities, nutritional content, and when to opt for one over the other. 

  1. Water

Dr. Emily Smith, a nutritionist, suggests, “Plain water should be your go-to for hydration. It’s the most effective and healthiest option for staying hydrated.” Your body absorbs it quickly, making it highly efficient for immediate rehydration. It’s the simplest way to keep your body functioning properly with no added ingredients.

  1. Milk

A study states that milk can be more effective than water or sports drinks at rehydrating the body post-exercise due to its electrolyte content. Whole milk contains more fat, which can slow down hydration, while skim milk is more quickly absorbed. Therefore, milk could be considered one of the best drinks for hydration.

  1. Fruit-Infused Water

If you find water too boring, fruit-infused water is a wonderful alternative. You can easily make it home by adding sliced fruits like lemon, berries, or cucumber to a water pitcher. It provides a flavour without added sugars, giving you a tasty and hydrating drink.

  1. Fruit Juice

100% fruit juice can provide a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals. Dr Laura Williams, a paediatrician, advises, “While fruit juice can provide some hydration, it’s better to consume it in moderation due to its high sugar content.” Opting for natural, no-sugar-added versions can offer hydration along with nutritional benefits. Therefore, fruit juice can be on your list of best drinks for hydration, but with caution.

  1. Watermelon

According to a study, watermelon is made up of about 92% water, making it one of the most hydrating foods you can eat. Both the fruit and its juice are excellent for hydration. You can also make watermelon juice for a refreshing and flavourful way to stay hydrated. 

  1. Sports Drinks

These are particularly useful when replacing electrolytes lost during intense or prolonged physical activity. Still, they can be among the best drinks for hydration if chosen wisely.

  1. Tea

Tea can be a good hydrating option whether you prefer herbal or caffeinated. Herbal teas are generally better since they are caffeine-free. It’s advisable to go for unsweetened versions to avoid added sugar. So, tea can be among the best drinks for hydration if chosen carefully.

  1. Coconut Water

Known for its natural electrolytes and low sugar content. Dr. Sarah Miller, a registered dietitian, says, “Coconut water can be an excellent hydration option post-exercise or during mild dehydration.” Hence, coconut water is on the list of best drinks for hydration.

  1. Milk Alternatives

Almond, soy, and oat kinds of milk each offer decent hydration along with their unique nutritional profiles. Almond milk is lighter and lower in calories, oat milk provides fibre, and soy milk is a good protein source. Your choice should depend on your nutritional needs and how quickly you need to rehydrate.

Worst Drinks for Hydration

We’ve discussed the best drinks for hydration, but what about the beverages that aren’t doing you any favours? Here, we’ll dive into the worst drinks for hydration so you’ll know what to sidestep when your goal is to stay hydrated.

  1. Soda

Dr. Karen Lee, a healthcare provider specialising in endocrinology, warns, “Drinks high in sugar and caffeine, like soda, can actually lead to more rapid dehydration.” While it might be tempting to reach for a soda, think twice. The high sugar and caffeine content gives you empty calories and can contribute to dehydration. Sometimes, you may end up even more parched after drinking a soda.

  1. Beer

The myth that beer hydrates you couldn’t be farther from the truth. Alcohol is a diuretic, causing you to lose more fluids through urine. Forget about “beer hydration” — it’s simply not a thing.

  1. Wine and Hard Liquor

Like beer, the alcohol content in wine and hard liquor can significantly contribute to dehydration. Quantity does matter here; the more you consume, the more dehydrated you’ll become.

  1. Hot Cocoa

Dr. Jennifer Robinson, a cardiologist, suggests, “Hot cocoa is best enjoyed in moderation and should not be relied upon for hydration.” A winter favourite, hot cocoa may be comforting but isn’t hydrating. The sugar and milk content makes it better suited as a treat than a go-to hydrating beverage.

  1. Coffee

Though many of us rely on coffee to kick-start our mornings, moderation is key. The caffeine in coffee acts as a diuretic, leading to increased urine production, which can result in dehydration.

  1. Lemonade

Sure, it’s refreshing, but store-bought lemonades often contain high amounts of sugar. If you’re a fan, consider making your version with less sugar to avoid the dehydrating effects.

  1. Sweet Tea

Dr. Ramesh Kalari, a gastroenterologist, says, “Sweet tea, due to its high sugar and caffeine content, can contribute to dehydration.” This Southern classic is high in both sugar and caffeine. If you must have your tea, opt for an unsweetened version to avoid dehydration.

  1. Energy Drinks

Despite being marketed as performance boosters, many energy drinks contain caffeine and other agents that can contribute to dehydration. It’s better to read labels carefully and opt for more hydrating options.

  1. Flavoured Milk

While milk can hydrate, adding flavour means adding sugar. This additional sugar content can negate the hydration benefits, making it better to stick with plain milk for hydration.

  1. Smoothies

Smoothies can be hydrating or dehydrating, depending on the ingredients. Versions made with sugar or ice cream can work against your hydration goals. If you’re a smoothie fan, use hydrating ingredients like coconut water, fresh fruits, and veggies.

Thirsty? Choose Wisely

Hydration isn’t just about drinking lots of water, although that’s a great start. From milk to coconut water, there are plenty of options that offer not just hydration but also other health perks. But watch out for those sugary and caffeinated drinks; they’re hydration traps! Knowing the best drinks for hydration can guide you. Keep a bottle of water close by in this heat and listen to what your body needs.