I review diet and fitness products for a living. Once in a while, I see something that makes my head spin. I recently saw a product aimed at dieters that had me question whether is was a gimmick or a stunning breakthrough in dieting. What is diet water? Let me tell you what it is, how it works and whether it's worth your money.
Is Diet Water a Real Thing?
Diet water is water that has no added calories and sometimes has vitamins, minerals and electrolytes added to it.
Diet food and drinks are products you can buy that have a reduced amount or none of the stuff that can make you gain or hinder your ability to lose weight. We're mostly talking about calories, fat and carbs, right?.
But think about the water that comes out of your faucet at home. There's certainly no fat, carbs or calories added to it, whether you get your water from a well or municipal source. The water from your tap, even if it is treated with chlorine or fluoride, contains zero of that stuff you want to avoid. Tap water definitely qualifies as diet.
But how about bottled water? Pure bottled water, again from a municipal source or spring, contains no fat, carbs or calories. If there are added flavorings or sweeteners, then there may be some extra calories. But there will just be a few.
Speaking of calories, people often ask whether zero-calorie water is any better than diet soda. Many diet sodas contain zero calories, but it doesn't hydrate you nearly as well as water. And hydration is important if you want to lose weight. You want to flush the fat out.
The biggest difference I've seen between water marketed as “diet” and plain old tap, well or bottled water is additives. The additives can be flavorings, vitamins and minerals, electrolytes or sweeteners. Some have only one added ingredient, others have several. We'll take a look at some of them in a bit.
Does It Have Calories Or Sugar?
Surprisingly enough, some of it does have more calories than regular water due to added sugars. You have to be very careful when reading labels. What's the point in paying extra for water that's supposed to be diet if it has calories and sugar?
What's In Diet Water?
Check the labels if you want to try it. You need to know what the added ingredients are if you are to make up your mind as to whether you want to spend your cash on it. Here are the most common additives that I found.
Sweeteners are good for people who, for some reason. just can't stand the taste of plain water. Almost all sweetened waters that tout themselves as diet have artificial sweeteners. There are just a couple that I could find that use stevia, but it doesn't appear that any stevia-sweetened water is available in the USA as of this writing.
Water that has added flavor doesn't necessarily mean it has added sugar, or even artificial sweeteners. There are plenty of artificial and natural flavorings that have zero calories. Flavored waters can be more palatable to people who don't like water. But having a flavor doesn't make anything diet. There is the benefit that you may hydrate more if you like what you're drinking, so there's that.
Vitamins And Minerals
Many diet waters contain added vitamins and minerals. Is it a good idea. Maybe it is. Let's take a look.
There are many brands of water, some that claim to be diet and some that don't, that have from 50 to 150 percent of the RDA of vitamin C and some B vitamins. Most of them also contain smaller quantities of minerals, like phosphorus and potassium.
You likely get enough of the nutrients mentioned above from your diet or your supplements. There isn't much benefit to overloading your system with these nutrients.
If you are currently on a restricted diet, you may rightly be concerned that you're not getting enough of your key vitamins and minerals. So a zero-calorie water with added nutrients would be a good idea, right. I'd say not really. There is no water that could possible compare with a good old one-a-day vitamin and mineral supplement, especially when you consider the price, which we will talk about later.
But maybe I'm missing the point here. A product doesn't qualify as diet just because it has extra vitamins and minerals. So there isn't much benefit to drinking water that's been enhanced with extra nutrients.
Electrolytes help control your fluid balance, regulate your blood pressure and maintain a healthy blood pH. Everyone needs them. People who workout need them more than sedentary individuals. When you sweat, you lose electrolytes.
According to Healthline, you should drink electrolyte-enhanced beverages if you tend to sweat a lot, workout longer than an hour at a time or are exercising in a hot environment. But they also caution that electrolyte water may not be enough. It's hard to add a beneficial amount of electrolytes without severely affecting the flavor. So they recommend sports drinks. And there aren't any real diet sports drinks.
So, what's the bottom line here? There isn't much benefit to water enhanced with electrolytes. There is a small benefit over regular water. But if you think you need electrolytes, you need to go with something other than electrolyte water. Try a powdered supplement or a sports drink.
The Big Players
Fitness Water, by Propel, is currently one of the most popular brands here. It comes in a multitude of flavors, and is enhanced with electrolytes, vitamins and minerals. It's sweetened with sucrose syrup, which amounts to 10 calories per eight ounces. This is one of the best-tasting of waters billed as diet.
Skinny water is the most complete. It has no calories, sugar or carbs. But it has plenty of added vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and even antioxidants. Those antioxidants allow them to claim that their water is good for detox. There are better ways to detoxify, however. Still, if you're going to spend extra money on enhanced water, this may well be your best bet.
Sapporo claims that their water features a special peptide bond that attaches to fat in the bloodstream and pulls it out of your body before it has a chance to deposit on your belly or butt. That seems highly dubious. I couldn't find any proof of this concept, let alone of this water's ability to remove fat from your bloodstream. Water can help flush fat out of your body, but it doesn't require any special kind of chemical bonding.
Diet Water Alternatives
If you hate drinking water, you may want to try sparkling water. It's something different, at any rate.
You may be wondering what to drink if you're on a diet. Honestly, regular water is the best. Just go with whatever water you prefer. You can drink practically free tap water, or you can go with tastier mineral water. But drink plenty of it. Hydration is crucial for losing weight and keeping it off.
How Does A Water Diet Work?
This is a fair question. There is a very simple explanation as well. A water diet works by severely restricting your caloric intake. You're just drinking water and not eating, like you would during a fast. You drink water during a water diet so you don't dehydrate. One variation of the water diet is the cold water diet. Supposedly, drinking ice-cold water causes your body to burn calories to heat the cold water that fills your stomach. The extra benefit to drinking cold water is pretty much negligible.
So do you need any special water on a water diet? You really don't. Even vitamin and mineral water won't have much benefit. If you're on a water fast, you need good, complete vitamin and mineral supplements.
While we're on the subject, be aware that a water diet may not be the best way for you to lose weight. It's basically a fast. And when you fast, your metabolism can slow way down. You may lose some weight, but it's not the most efficient way.
The Bottom Line
So what is diet water? Well, it's water that has fewer calories, fat and carbs that regular water. But regular water has practically zero calories, fat and carbs. The water that comes out of your tap is diet.
Is there any benefits to drinking diet water over regular water. Honestly, there really isn't. You may want to go for a flavored water if you just don't like regular water, but that doesn't really have anything to do with “diet.” Drink plenty of good old plain water, whether you get it from your faucet or a bottle.