On the list of daily human needs, water is non-negotiable. But we’ll be honest: The liquid of life can seem a little, well, boring. Though you might get some natural taste variations depending on the source of your water or the amount of minerals it contains, in general, water isn’t exactly bursting with flavor.
Still, good old H2O is the very best beverage around. “[Water has] zero calories, zero sodium, zero sugar, zero saturated fat, zero any of those things we are often told to avoid or cut back on,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It — Taking You From Label to Table, who is based in New York City. “Our bodies are made mostly of water, so we need to preface the amounts we lose by breathing, sweating, and everyday functioning. So many of us walk around irritated, listless, and feeling weak when we could just be mildly dehydrated.” A January 2023 study in eBioMedicine even linked greater hydration to longer life!
Clearly, we’d all do well to drink up — so it’s no wonder that an entire Tiktok trend has arisen around flavoring your water to make it more interesting. The so-called “WaterTok” phenomenon encourages experimenting with various flavor infusions in the form of powders, juices, or syrups. Some of the viral suggestions add calories, sugars, and preservatives, however, defeating the purpose of water as a low-calorie, sugar-free beverage.
Fortunately, there are plenty of healthier ways to make your water more intriguing. Try these 10 strategies:
1. Add Fresh Fruit
Tasty, fruit-flavored water is just a few slices away. “I love to keep a big pitcher of water filled with ripe cut fruit in the fridge,” says Taub-Dix. “Not only does it look beautiful (I actually serve this at dinner parties), but it also provides hydration.” Try an infuser pitcher, which allows you to steep your favorite fruits in a removable cone, or simply toss a slice or two of fruit into your glass and muddle.
As for which fruits to include, citrus like lemons, limes, and oranges are classic water enhancers, but other fruit flavors might also tempt your taste buds. Taub-Dix recommends watermelon, strawberries, and ripe peaches. Think of it as a wine-free sangria!
2. Consider a Veggie Infusion
It may sound unorthodox to put vegetables in your water, but several veggies work just as well as fruits for adding inspiring flavor. (Consider pairing them with fruits to balance their savoriness with a hint of sweetness.) Mild, naturally water-rich choices like cucumbers or zucchini tend to make the best options. Still, if you fancy a more unusual choice like earthy carrots or spicy radishes, feel free to include them.
3. Add Herbs
While you’re on the infusion train, don’t forget about fresh herbs. A few sprigs of thyme, lavender, rosemary, mint, or basil are all it takes to up the wow factor in your water. And it’s calorie-free flavor. Get creative by coming up with your very own signature blend of herbs, fruits, and/or veggies.
4. Use Juice
A splash of juice in your water not only adds much-needed flavor, it also creates an attractive color — and the right kind can amp up your beverage’s nutrition for minimal calories. One hundred percent juices typically contain micronutrients like vitamin C, plus beneficial antioxidants.
Any fruit juice can be a good base flavor for water, but tart juices like cranberry, pomegranate, grape, and apple are especially delicious. Go for all-natural juices with no added sugars.
5. Make It Bubbly
Does sparkling water count toward your daily fluid intake? You bet! A past study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that fizzy water was just as hydrating as the still variety. If plain old water isn’t inspiring to you, try a naturally effervescent mineral water, which will give you the added benefit of minerals. Or try flavored carbonated water. These days, sparkling waters come in innumerable flavors, from limoncello to apple cider.
Pick an appealing iteration and drink it by itself, or experiment with adding a bit of sparkling H2O to your still water. Through trial and error you may find a ratio that suits you. And if you become a seltzer devotee, you might want to consider getting a seltzer maker for your home.
6. Get Creative With Ice
Love a tall glass of ice water? There may be a scientific reason for its appeal. One past study revealed that cold water suppresses taste bud sensitivity, which may prevent you from tasting impurities. Fill your glass with your favorite kind of ice — whether crushed or cubed — and see if its refreshing chilliness does the trick.
Meanwhile, even though ice is just frozen water, it offers opportunities of its own for making hydration a bit more exciting. “You can add cut fruit (like lemon, lime, and orange slices) to ice cube trays of water,” Taub-Dix suggests. Then, when it’s time to fill your bottle, pop in these colorful cubes and let them infuse it with flavor as they melt. Other flavored ice ideas include frozen juice, coffee, or tea. And if you want to have even more fun, use trays that make interesting ice cube shapes, like stars, circles, or fish.
7. Stick a Tea Bag in It
Like sparkling water, tea is every bit as hydrating as regular water — and it can add a whole new world of charisma to your cup. Hot or cold, unsweetened tea has zero calories and often packs antioxidants, depending on the variety.
In addition to the array of global flavors you can find online and in stores, you can also infuse your tea with fruit, just like with regular water. “One of my favorite tips is to add a cut fruit, like an apple, into a steamy mug of herbal tea (like apple cinnamon tea). At the end of your beverage, you’ll have a deliciously cooked fruit that will taste like a baked apple,” says Taub-Dix.
When choosing a tea, be sure to check caffeine content. Sipping a caffeinated blend all day could leave you jittery.
8. Make Bone Broth or Stock
Many intermittent fasting plans permit bone broth because it’s so low in calories that it won’t break a fast. But broth, stock, and other similar liquids can be cozy, comforting ways to hydrate. They’re basically water that’s had bones and/or aromatics steeped in them, which draws out some minor amounts of protein and collagen, reports Cedars-Sinai. While the health benefits of bone broth and stock is still being debated, it is known that both are nearly as hydrating as pure water, whether you use them in soups and sauces or just sip them straight.
One word of caution, however: Certain heavy metals, including lead, are stored in animal bones, One small study found that organic chicken broth made from cooking those bones contained several times the lead concentration in the water used to make it. More research is needed, but it’s best to sip in moderation or to stick to low-sodium vegetable stock.
Related: An Instant Pot Chicken Stock Recipe That’s RD-Approved
9. Add Fast Flavor
The WaterTok trend offers no shortage of suggestions for infusing water with flavor using powders and syrups. But these extras can add high amounts of calories and sugars. If you’re looking for a quick-and-easy flavor booster, consider sugar-free drink mixes or low-calorie electrolyte powders. These will amp up flavor without derailing your health goals. Look for a powder without artificial sweeteners or colors, such as LMNT or Gainful.
10. Try a Filter
No, not the TikTok kind! Rather, installing a water filter in your home or purchasing a bottle with a built-in filter, such as the Camelback Eddy filtered by LifeStraw, can help remove unpleasant flavors and make for more enjoyable sipping. Depending on where you live, the water that comes out of your tap might not be especially tasty — so you might be surprised at how filtering out impurities improves its appeal.
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