Food Trends 2019: Hydration Nation

Here is our sixth article in our Food Trends for 2019 series. In this series, we will discuss what we think of the hottest food trends from a Registered Dietitian’s perspective. Are these food trends here to stay or will they be gone next year like many one hit wonders? Today’s Topic: Hydration Trends

When I counseled patients at the beginning of my career, a question I would frequently get asked is “what can I drink?” My answer would always be “plain water”, But then I would always see a look of sadness or disappointment on their face. It seems like a lot of people just simply don’t like plain water even though it is the ideal drink for staying hydrated!

Yes, I’ll admit, there are a lot of drinks with flavor that taste better (I am a BIG wine drinker after all), but water is still optimal no matter what.

Your Hydration Needs

As humans, water is one of the most essential nutrients for health. You can live 3 weeks without food, but only 3 days without water. Men need about 15 cups a day, whereas women need 11. Water found in fruits and vegetables does contribute to meeting those needs, so you don’t have to DRINK all of that daily.

That being said, people are obsessed with staying hydrated. I hear all the time about people drinking gallons of water a day to be healthy. Any health goal always seems to include “drink more water”. Yet it seems like a lot of people don’t want to rely on pure water to do so. New companies are creating tons of options for people who don’t want to stick with water alone to stay hydrated. Here are a few of these hydration trends for 2019.

New Sports Drinks

Sports drinks were first utilized in 1965 at the University of Florida in an attempt to help replace electrolytes and carbohydrates lost during football practice in the Florida heat. With the use of the new drink called “Gatorade” the Florida Gator football team as able to win at the Orange Bowl that year. From then on, Gatorade (and a ton of spin offs) took off.

But, traditional Gatorade is loaded with sugar and calories. Although drinking it is associated with healthy athletes, most of them probably don’t need quite so much sugar or calories to stay well-hydrated. For those of us “casual” exercisers, we definitely don’t need the extra calories or even the electrolytes, unless we are working out in the heat.

So, beverage companies have decided to cut back on the sugar and calorie content. Enter a new brand of “healthier” sports drinks like Thirty. With only 30 calories, 66% less sugar, and 3x the electrolyte content of standard sports drinks, it is a drink-revamped for a new generation concerned about sugar and artificial sweeteners. Other brands like Propel and Gatorade also have low-calorie and low sugar alternatives, to help address concerns of consumers.

Going Natural with Hydration

Hydration Trends

But, some consumers wanted to go even further, refusing to accept the artificial sweeteners used to replace the sugar in these sports drinks. Enter more natural and organic brands like Nooma and Detach (a great client of ours!) coconut water-based beverages with natural sweeteners. These brands use honey or coconut nectar instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners. Some also add additional functional ingredients such as beta-alanine or L-theanine to help boost exercise performance and recovery.

The Bottom Line About Hydration Trends

So, should you drink these new “boosted” sports drinks? Will they help you be more hydrated? For most people, probably not, water is still ideal. 

Unless you are working out in the summer heat or for more than an hour, you don’t need anything other than plain water (sorry!). For normal day to day hydration, water is also best. All that being said, if you want some flavor and are struggling with your water intake check out some of the “healthier” options like Detach or Noom, there is nothing wrong with mixing it up from time to time.