​The Fittish Guide To Drinking

You drink a variety of things on any given day. Water, sure. Coffee, oh yes. And in the evening, you'll probably have a few beers or shots or what-have-you. Behold, Fittish's guide to everything you're drinking, and how to do it better.

​The Fittish Guide To Drinking

Water

Drink more of it. If you're like most Americans, you're not drinking enough. The internet consensus seems to be that 75% of you aren't. When you're dehydrated, your body is more prone to fatigue and is hindered from holding onto vitamins and nutrients. It can even cramp up during important sporting events. Get hydrated and you won't be as prone to binge eating, you'll burn fat easier, and process toxins better. In sum, your life will just be better.

Surprisingly enough, that old "eight by eight" rule, or eight eight-ounce glasses of water per day, is a bunch of crap. The current recommendation is about 3.7 liters a day for men, and 2.7 liters for women. Having trouble visualizing it? It's a little more than six venti cups from Starbucks. And even though that sporty friend of yours looks ridiculous always carrying around a water bottle, it's commonly accepted that when you've got a bottle present, you're more likely to drink.

​The Fittish Guide To Drinking

Juices

There are two main problems with fruit juices: high sugar and low fiber. Juices seem great at first glance—hey, fruit in a bottle!—but pack too much of a punch. Even without added sugar, juices separate much of the fiber from the fruit, and fiber slows down how fast your body absorbs carbs. Your blood sugar spikes, resulting in a soaring high and a crushing low. But even without the ups and downs, nutritionists still call it "the fastest way to gain weight." The better option? Eat whole fruit.

And a quick word on juice cleanses: yes, they will make you lose weight, primarily because you're partially starving yourself. But doctors warn the weight loss is temporary, and furthermore there's no evidence the body needs to be cleansed in the first place.

​The Fittish Guide To Drinking

Soda/Pop/Coke

Americans drink a lot of soda/pop/Coke—44 gallons a year, according to a study in 2013. And that was recession-bled; in 1998, Americans were drinking 58 gallons a year. These products have the same downside as fruit juices—obesity—along with tooth enamel erosion. And then there's diet soda. While that whole "gives rats cancer" thing doesn't have a lot of credibility, there is a possible connection between artificial sweeteners making you hungrier. Don't drink diet if you can help it.

A much better option is sparkling water. It's zero calories, hydrates as well as still water, and its only one potential side effect is flatulence (rarely) .

​The Fittish Guide To Drinking

Coffee

Coffee dehydrates, right? Not if you're used to it. This study, published in January, examined 52 regular coffee drinkers for three-day periods as they drank only water or water and coffee. The conclusion was that there was no significant difference in hydration levels.

That's not to say that coffee doesn't have its risks—caffeine is still addictive, and its effects can include increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and occasional irregular heartbeat. Then there's the massive calories that accompany with a mocha-frappa-whatever, and it's a double-edged sword when you're combining caffeine with peak athletic performance. But otherwise, coffee isn't the worst.

​The Fittish Guide To Drinking

Energy Drinks

Don't drink energy drinks. You're not a 17-year-old skateboarder.

And now, a word on alcohol in general from the Mayo Clinic:

Drinking too much alcohol increases your risk of high blood pressure, high triglycerides, liver damage, obesity, certain types of cancer, accidents and other problems. In addition, drinking too much alcohol regularly can cause weakened heart muscle (cardiomyopathy), leading to symptoms of heart failure in some people. If you have heart failure or a weak heart, you should avoid alcohol completely.

Moving on . . .

​The Fittish Guide To Drinking

Beer

Beer, despite its calories, is still helping keep your heart healthy, reducing the chances of diabetes, lowering blood pressure (probably from all that coffee), and more. Switching from regular to light beer will save about a third of the calories and around half the carbs. But don't kid yourself—you're buying beer for the label, according to this recent study.

You can find a list of beers-plus-stuff here, but really, beer is beer. It is made in part from hops, and hops have medicinal properties. So drink up.

​The Fittish Guide To Drinking

Wine

Red wine contains the antioxidant resveratrol, which has preliminarily been linked to reducing bad cholesterol, help fight obesity, and a host of other things. Science has only proven these things in mice, and while right now there's no proof that wine is any better for you than beer or other spirits, it's at least promising. White wine also contains antioxidants, so you're not sacrificing much.

​The Fittish Guide To Drinking

Liquor

Well, if it's not any better than wine, liquor isn't any worse. This study, using pigs, showed that vodka and wine, in the same doses, achieved about the same thing in terms of reducing cardiovascular risk. Individually, all liquors claim to have unique health benefits, with schools of thought around whiskey, tequila, absinthe, and even Malort. Basically, don't wake up in a gutter and you have a decent argument for health benefits.

And there it is, everything you need to know about drinking. Now go and do likewise.