Hardly a day goes by when I don’t reach for some kind of sparkling drink. Sparkling water, soda and other carbonated beverages are crisp, refreshing and perfect for an afternoon treat. Unfortunately, recent research suggests that the bubbles we crave can come with some side effects.
What are carbonated drinks?
Carbonated beverages include any drink that has bubbles and fizz from dissolved carbon dioxide. Drinks like soda, tonic water and even champagne all get those delightful bubbles. Flavored sparkling water is especially popular (looking at you, LaCroix), and several brands even offer hard seltzer!
Are carbonated drinks bad for you?
Well, it depends. We know the dangers of drinking soda because of its high levels of either sugar or artificial sweeteners. And if you find yourself needing that sweet drink every afternoon, it may even be contributing to a sugar addiction.
But what about those healthier-looking drinks? Many varieties of sparkling water have no calories or sweeteners, but still carry some side effects. Because of carbon dioxide, all carbonated beverages can contribute to gas and bloating. If you notice an upset stomach after drinking sparkling water, try cutting back and seeing how you feel.
Some carbonated waters may also make you feel hungrier. A small study found that drinking sparkling water can increase the “hunger hormone” ghrelin, causing you to reach for more snacks. On the other hand, another small study found that people who drank sparkling water felt fuller than those who only drank water. More research is needed to make a definitive conclusion.
What are the best non-carbonated drinks?
If you’re looking to cut back on your carbonated beverages each day, here are some fun options.
- For an afternoon pick-me-up, reach for espresso or cold brew coffee. The best source of caffeine is coffee, and cold brew is a smooth, icy treat perfect for sipping.
- Bored with plain water? Try infusing it with fruit and herbs for that crisp taste you crave without the bubbles.
- Iced tea is another way to stay hydrated while adding some tasty flavor. Just be sure to pass on the sweet tea and try one with fresh fruit.