When it comes to feeling good and getting in shape, what you drink can be just as important as what you eat. Smart hydration is crucial for supporting both an active lifestyle and your overall health. Water is the best and simplest way to hydrate—your body needs at least eight cups a day, and even more when you’re getting physical activity daily.

But, the reality is most of us also drink things other than water, particularly when we’re after sustained energy to carry us through the long haul. Soda and energy shots tend to be the go-to source to keep us chugging along, but these options are high in sugar and synthetic ingredients and typically provide minimal nutritional value. So, aside from water, what healthy beverages can give you the juice your body needs? Here are some options:
It may sound too good to be true, but you can actually hydrate, support satiety and fuel your metabolism with just one beverage. Simply sub in a nutritious meal-replacement protein (MRP) shake for breakfast or lunch a few times a week. You can mix an MRP powder with water or add a scoop to a smoothie with fruit and yogurt. Or, if zero prep time is what you seek, stock up on convenient ready-to-drink MRPs packed with lean protein and other beneficial vitamins and nutrients. Drinking MRPs is a tasty, no-hassle way to ensure you’re getting H2O, along with added benefits of essential nutrients and highly satisfying fuel for energy. Look for a product that’s high in fiber, too. It can help you feel fuller for longer and help keep your digestion running smoothly.
When you’re stressed, frazzled, thirsty, and about to reach for that 2 PM can of soda, re-think the type of energy boost you’re looking for. While energy shots and sugary drinks give you a quick jolt, it may be followed by an abrupt crash or even an upset stomach. Skip the unpleasantness and opt for a nutrient-rich fitness drink instead. The right one will supply you with fuel for sustained energy. Fitness drinks and natural energy drinks are enhanced with ingredients to give you a boost of nutrients essential for energy production—while also supplying added protections via antioxidants and essential vitamins. Also, look for EGCG in your fitness drink—it’s a polyphenol typically found in green tea that can support your metabolism for natural, sustained energy.
Hydration and nutrition are also key if you’re starting—and sustaining—a new exercise program. Giving your muscles the nutrient fuel they need can help you get the most out of your stroll, swim or bike ride. It also may make it easier to get up and do it all over again day after day. When it comes to getting in shape, establishing a consistent routine is half the battle. Help fuel your body for the challenge by giving it whey protein. It’s a complete protein source that contains all nine of the essential amino acids your muscles need to repair themselves after a workout. It’s also readily absorbed by your body, which makes it ideal to drink right after you wrap up any sort of exercise. Ready-to-drink post-workout shakes that contain whey protein are an easy and tasty way to give your muscles that vital post-workout support. Alternatively, you can opt for a whey protein powder blend that you can mix with water. Either option will give you the recovery nutrition and hydration your body craves after exertion.
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