Life After Soda: Healthy, Low-Sugar Alternatives Await You October 23, 2015
Life After Soda: Healthy, Low-Sugar Alternatives Await You October 23, 2015

You’ve been making some dietary changes. Finally, you’ve kicked the soda habit, and you’re chugging water and fruit juice instead.

Not so fast! Step away from the juice box, or you’ll torpedo much of the good work you’ve been doing in the gym. Here are four healthy steps you can take towards better hydration:

Step #1. Ditch the fruit juices. The biggest difference between soda and fruit juice? Carbonation. Otherwise, they’re both sugar bombs: Compare the average 6-ounce glass of soda (17 to 23 grams of sugar) to the same quantity of orange juice (15 grams) or pomegranate juice (22 grams or more); it’s sobering. Any of these packs way too much sweet stuff to be offset by a typical fitness plan. Instead, consider some better thirst quenchers out there that won’t trigger weight gain or the onset of Type II diabetes.

Step #2. Consider a healthy, healing, DIY sports drink. Neon-colored sports drinks are a supermarket staple. But all it takes is one look at their list of ingredients to see why blending your own makes sense. For inspiration, check out recipes like The Lemonade Lift and Spor-tea Drink by integrative physician and healthy living guru Dr. Frank Lipman. These thirst-quenching, performance-boosting brews include Himalayan salt, ribose, Stevia, lemons and herbal tea, all of which you can get at most grocery or health-food stores. (And don’t forget to toss in a little ginger to aid muscle recovery and tamp down inflammation.)

Step #3. Customize a smoothie. We all love smoothies. They digest easily and deliver fiber, nutrients and protein. But when you overload them with pineapples, mangos or other sweet fruits, you’re sipping down a milkshake sugar bomb. Replace those sweets with greens or low-sugar berries (such as blackberries, blueberries and raspberries). Blend them with water or unsweetened nut milk instead of apple juice — a common high-sugar ingredient found in many juice-bar smoothies.

Step #4. Revisit teatime. Good old-fashioned tea is one of the healthiest yet most underrated thirst quenchers. It gives us a light dose of caffeine, great taste and polyphelols (namely catechins and epicatechins), which are antioxidants being linked to lowering risk for heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Drink the highest quality tea you can — i.e., those labeled as organic, fair-trade and Non-GMO Project. Skip bottled teas loaded with sweeteners.

Bottom line: Your body really is a temple. Quench it well, and think before you drink.

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