Healthy Summer Drinks: 5 Awesome Ideas to Stay Hydrated in Summer

Fact checked by Megan Soliman MD, MSc
Board-certified internal medicine physician

Wondering what to choose to quench your thirst on a hot summer’s day? While water might be the best option from a health perspective, it’s not always the most exciting choice for your taste buds. Whether you’re cutting back on calories or looking for more creative ways to stay hydrated in summer, keep reading to find a few healthy alternatives to your favorite zero-calorie drinks.

Why is it important to stay hydrated when it’s hot outside?

Drinking enough water every day is essential for your body to function properly. It helps to:

  • Regulate body temperature. When your body is hot, it cools itself down through sweating, so not drinking enough can make you feel even hotter and may lead to heat exhaustion.
  • Support cardiovascular health. When you’re dehydrated, your heart has to work harder to ensure proper blood circulation.
  • Improve digestion. Water helps remove waste from the body through urination and bowel movements. Lack of fluid can lead to constipation and other digestion issues.
  • Keep your skin healthy. Not getting enough water can leave your skin feeling dry and dehydrated and more susceptible to damage like sunburn.
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But it’s even more crucial when the weather is warm. When you’re sweating a lot in the heat and not drinking enough, you can quickly become dehydrated. Dehydration can show itself in several forms:

  • Thirst
  • Dry mouth and lips
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Poor concentration

So how much should you drink on a hot day? Aim to drink a cup of water or other low-calorie beverage every 15–20 minutes when working or exercising in the heat. But avoid caffeine, alcohol, and drinks with added sugar as they can cause you to lose more liquid and lead to further dehydration. Eating fruits and vegetables with high water content like melons and cucumbers can also help you stay hydrated throughout the day.

Zero-calorie drinks: Are they healthy?

Water is the healthiest way to stay hydrated, but what if you want a bit more flavor? Zero-calorie drinks should be the next best thing, right? Well, research suggests that calorie-free beverages may not be as healthy as you think.

Glasses of healthy summer drinks with lemon and mint

Of course, if you usually drink regular soda, a zero-calorie option can help you cut down on empty calories. But artificial sweeteners can create a craving for sugar and other high-calorie foods, so they may even cause you to gain more weight. Another study has found that people drinking many artificially sweetened low-calorie beverages have a higher risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Although there are several health concerns associated with zero-calorie drinks, having a diet soda every now and then when you’re craving something sweet won’t do you any harm. Still, regular water, fresh fruit or vegetable juice, and other low-calorie options are healthier ways to stay hydrated in summer.

5 Healthy low-calorie beverages to keep you cool in the heat

Sipping on a refreshing beverage can help you cool down on a hot day — even better if it has some added health benefits! Let’s go through some of the healthy low-calorie drinks that can give you a boost of hydration in summer.

1. Fruit-infused water

Drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated, and there are lots of flavored waters floating around right now. But most of them have added sugar or other sweeteners, so they may not be the healthiest choice. If plain water is too boring for you, infuse it by adding slices of your favorite fruits, veggies, and herbs to your water bottle for some flavor!

Throw in some ice for a refreshing and tasty — yet healthy! — drink.

Here are some of our favorite options to infuse your water with:

  • Limes
  • Oranges
  • Cucumber
  • Mint
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon

Alternatively, you can make fruity ice cubes — put some chopped fruit in an ice cube tray, add water, and freeze. That’s a quick way to add some color and flavor to your drink in summer.

2. Kombucha

This fermented, slightly fizzy drink is an excellent choice to quench your thirst on a hot day. It is low in calories and rich in gut-friendly probiotics. Kombucha also has B vitamins and organic acids that have antimicrobial properties. Some studies have shown that kombucha can lower cholesterol and blood sugar and improve liver function.

Traditionally kombucha is made from black tea with a little bit of sugar or honey in it.

But because of its rising popularity, you can find green tea kombucha, infused with hibiscus, and many other varieties of this trendy drink. One thing to keep in mind is that the fermentation process produces a small amount of alcohol, so you may want to give kombucha a miss if you’re sensitive to alcohol, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or are fighting off a serious illness.

Low-calorie summer beverages with cucumber and citrus

3. Cucumber and mint spritzer

You can’t really go wrong with a cucumber and mint combo on a hot summer’s day. And this refreshing low-calorie beverage is very easy to make, which is a plus:

  • Gently muddle some mint leaves into a pitcher.
  • Cut a cucumber into slices and put them into the pitcher.
  • Squeeze the juice of one lemon or lime for extra zing.
  • Pour in sparkling water and serve over ice.

4. Coconut water

Low in sugar and calories, this popular drink can help you stay hydrated in the heat or after exercise. It’s full of vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and sodium which help replenish the nutrients you lose when sweating a lot. Some research suggests that it can also lower blood pressure and prevent kidney stones. So next time you’re feeling thirsty, reach for some coconut water — but make sure it doesn’t have any added sugar and sodium. Be careful: coconut water’s high potassium content makes your kidneys work harder, so if you have impaired kidney function or high potassium then don’t drink too much of it!

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5. Pomegranate cooler

Pomegranates are an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium. High in antioxidants, pomegranate juice can reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and improve cardiovascular health. So why not reap these health benefits while sipping on a refreshing summer drink?

  • Crush some ice cubes in a blender.
  • Mix 3 cups of chilled pomegranate juice and a quarter of a cup of fresh lime juice. Add a tablespoon of honey to sweeten it.
  • Pour in sparkling water.
  • Garnish with a sprig of mint and a slice of lime, serve, and enjoy!

Wrapping up

Water is essential for your body to stay healthy in any weather. When it’s hot and you lose a lot of liquid through sweating, it’s especially important to stay properly hydrated. While drinking plain water is the best way to balance your fluid intake in summer, sometimes you may want something a little more flavorsome. However, some research suggests that artificial sweeteners in zero-calorie drinks may create a craving for more sugar and high-calorie foods. Luckily, there are many other low-calorie options to choose from — and some even have added health benefits. Reach for coconut water, kombucha, or fruit-infused water next time you’re feeling thirsty.

March 17, 2023