Improving the Taste
Sugary sodas or even fruit juices are not the best ways to replace fluids. "Beverages with a high sugar content are actually dehydrating and should be avoided as a means of fluid replacement," says New York nutritionist Stuart Fischer, MD. That includes beer too, he points out.
If taste is an issue, Fischer recommends drinking flavored, zero-calorie mineral water, which mimics the taste of soda but contains no sugar.
California nutritionist Stella Metsovas likes to add mint or mint tea, lemon or lemon balm, or hibiscus tea to water to make it more "exciting," while fitness author Debbie Mandel recommends creating your own spa water by filling a pitcher with water, adding slices of fruit such as strawberry or peach, and refrigerating until the water is delicately fragranced and flavored.
Adding just a splash of fruit juice (cranberry, pomegranate, or blueberry are good choices because of their antioxidant properties) can also make water more palatable, says Jyl Steinback, cookbook/lifestyle author and designer of the health program Eat Right, Move More and Live Well.
Cold, Pure Water
If you really don't like the taste of water, the solution may be as simple as buying a water purifier that filters lead and other contaminants from tap water, says Susan Kleiner. Some purifiers attach right to the faucet; others can be installed as part of the entire water system. You can also buy a pour-through filter that is placed in a special pitcher and put right in your refrigerator.
Cold, rather than room temperature, water may also be more appealing. And serving the water in a glass (rather than a plastic or paper cup) will help it stay colder longer and retain a fresher taste.
Seltzer water is another alternative, says Kleiner. Some people like the bubbly "soda" effect, and a splash of juice or a spritz of fruit such as lemon, lime, or orange might help you think of water in a new light.
Make sure if you buy seltzer already flavored that it's not loaded with sucrose or fructose -- just other words for sugar. And, Kleiner adds, while seltzer is fine to drink throughout the day, it's not the best choice while exercising because gas from the bubbles takes up space in your stomach, making you feel fuller and decreasing the amount of total fluid you'll take in.