Whether you’re a die-hard La Croix stan with cases of Pamplemousse hidden around your home, or you’ve sworn to never be fewer than ten feet away from all things carbonated and liquid, odds are you have some strong feelings about sparkling water. We’re not here to debate your dietary preferences (even if we are personally fans of a little carbonated H20), but we are going to get to the bottom of the age-old question surrounding all the fizz: is sparkling water even doing what water is supposed to do? (As in, is it even hydrating you?)
To date, there have been several small studies on the issue, and the overwhelming answer seems to be that yes, yes it is. Sparkling water in itself is not any less hydrating than the regular, bubble-less variety. The base ingredient is the same, obviously, and sparkling water is really just a punched up version of the original. A water with pizzazz, if you will. What really matters is how much water you’re drinking in the first place.
Whether you should be sipping on sparkling water all day depends more on your own drinking habits than anything else. Some people get ‘taste fatigue’ trying to slurp up eight cups of regular water a day, so a carbonated variety can be a great way to keep them happy while they drink more water willingly than they would have begrudgingly. In this case, the person is more hydrated because they end up taking in more water overall.
However, because sparkling water is full of lots of tiny air bubbles, others may feel bloated or full quickly after enjoying some of it because more space is taken up in their stomach. If the person starts feeling poorly as a result of the carbonated water, they may not continue to drink it as much or as quickly, resulting in a lower overall water intake, and therefore lower level of hydration.
When drinks pull other ingredients like sugars and electrolytes into the mix, things can begin to shift. Because sugars and salts encourage the body to hold on to more water, they can be super useful when it comes to retaining hydration. However, they also often contribute to bloated sensations and appearances (i.e. water weight). When it comes to intense physical activity, athletes are better off with a flat, non-carbonated beverage so they can drink quickly and avoid as much bloat as possible. But for the average everyday Joe, both regular and sparkling water can give you a lift to hydration station any day of the week.
So in the end, choosing between sparkling and flat water comes down to knowing your most basic desires, and getting ahead of your own unhealthy habits. Now that you have all the info, would you prefer flat or sparkling?