The 9 Healthiest Water Flavorings, According to Dietitians

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Water flavorings make it easier to drink more water and stay hydrated
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com Creative

During my years as a registered dietitian, the most common recommendation I've had for my clients is to drink more water. No matter what it is they see me for, most people are seriously lacking in the H2O department.

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Water flavorings are a go-to recommendation to help people drink more water without feeling like it's a chore or burden.

"Water flavorings not only provide added flavor for those who dislike plain water, but many also offer other health benefits," says Melissa Mitri, RD of Melissa Mitri Nutrition. "For example, some packets include electrolytes for athletes, added collagen for skin health or vitamins to help supplement the diet."

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Are You Drinking Enough Water?

The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends people assigned male at birth (AMAB) get 15.5 cups of water each day and people assigned female at birth (AFAB) drink 11.5 cups of water daily. This amount increases if you live in a hot climate or are physically active.

Physical signs you need to drink more water, according to Rutgers University, include:

  • Feelings of thirst or a dry, sticky mouth
  • Dry skin
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Feeling tired and lack of energy
  • Constipation
  • Chronic urinary tract infections

While water flavorings may help you drink more of the good stuff, not all of them are actually good for you.

"Look for products that are low in added sugar, artificial sweeteners and unnecessary additives. Choose packets are less than 25 calories per serving, as more than this can add up if you're drinking these packets all day long," Mitri says.

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The Healthiest Water Flavorings

How We Chose

We did our own research and spoke to registered dietitians for their recommendations and chose products based on the following criteria:

  • Low in added sugars
  • Free from artificial flavors and colors
  • Fewer than 25 calories per serving
  • Price

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1. Best Overall: True Lemon

True Lemon is made out of crystallized lemon, which is a mixture of citric acid, lemon oil and lemon juice.
Image Credit: True Lemon
  • Calories‌: 0
  • Added sugars‌: 0 g

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The next best thing to squeezing a lemon into water is True Lemon's water flavor packets. The only ingredient is crystallized lemon, making it extra convenient to add a splash of natural lemon flavor to your water. They also carry orange and lime flavors if you want to switch it up with a different citrus flavor.

In addition to having zero calories, nothing artificial and great flavor, these packets from True Lemon are budget-friendly and versatile. You can use them for baking, cooking, adding to tea or any other time you need a lemon but don't have a fresh one available.

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Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Zero calories
  • No unnecessary ingredients

Cons

  • Limited flavors
  • Can potentially trigger heartburn in sensitive people

Buy It

Amazon ($6.93 for 100 packets); True Lemon ($5.24 for 32 packets)

2. Best Flavor Variety: Cirkul

Pop a flavor cartridge into the branded lid, and you've got yourself days' worth of delicious flavored water.
Image Credit: Cirkul

Per LifeSip:

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  • Calories‌: 0
  • Added sugar‌: 0 g
  • Sodium‌: 0 mg
  • Niacin‌: 0.5 mg, 4% Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin B6‌: 0.06 mg, 4% DV
  • Vitamin B12‌: 0.08 mg, 4% DV
  • Pantothenic acid‌: 0.2 mg, 4% DV

If you're really looking to spice up your daily H2O, Cirkul is the way to go. These water enhancers are available in a handful of flavor lines, including LifeSip (for everyday use), FitSip (with electrolytes to help fuel you during a workout), GoSip (with caffeine for extra energy), Frosted (iced coffee-inspired flavors with caffeine) and more.

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The flavors come packed in little cartridges that you insert into a Cirkul water bottle lid. The Custom Flavor Dial gives you full control of how much flavor goes into your water (dial up for more, down for less) and one cartridge lasts about six fill-ups with a 22-ounce bottle. Perk: You don't necessarily have to purchase a Cirkul water bottle to use these so long as you buy the lid — the lid can fit most wide-mouth water bottles, like Nalgene and Hydro Flask.

Try a Fruit Punch, Georgia Peach Tea or Caramel Iced Coffee flavor cartridge for an instant pick-me-up without any calories or sugar. Just note that some of these fun flavors are sweetened with sucralose, an artificial sweetener. If you want to avoid sucralose, opt for Cirkul's Verda line, which is sweetened with all-natural stevia, or go for the Puressence line, which doesn't contain any sweeteners.

Pros

  • Comes in a variety of flavors
  • Zero calories
  • Has caffeinated options
  • Has vitamins and other functional ingredients
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Some flavors contain the artificial sweetener sucralose
  • It only works with the Cirkul water bottle lid

Buy It

Cirkul ($3.75 per cartridge)

3. Best Ready-to-Drink: Hint

You can find Hint flavored waters in many drugstores and grocery stores.
Image Credit: Hint
  • Calories‌: 0
  • Added sugars‌: 0 g

While water flavorings are convenient to carry in your bag and on the go, sometimes you want an option that's ready to go. Hint is a great ready-to-drink option for purified water with natural added flavor.

"Hint has no added sugar or artificial sweeteners, and its flavor comes purely from fruit. This product is good for someone who prefers just a hint of flavor without too much sweetness," Mitri says.

Seeing "natural flavors" on a label may have you wondering if these flavors come from a nutritious source. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the term "natural flavors" so you know that it comes from one of these places:

  • Spices
  • Fruits or vegetables and their juices
  • Plant materials such as herbs, bark, buds, roots, or leaves
  • Yeast
  • Meat, poultry, or seafood
  • Eggs or dairy

Pros

  • Over 18 flavors to choose from
  • No mixing; ready to drink
  • Naturally flavored
  • Zero calories

Cons

  • Not convenient to carry
  • It takes up a lot of space

Buy It

Amazon ($11.36 for 12 bottles); Hint ($36 for 36 bottles)

4. Best for Athletes: Nuun Sport Electrolyte Drink Tablets

Keep a pack of Nuun's electrolyte tablets in your gym bag.
Image Credit: Nuun
  • Calories‌: 15
  • Added sugar‌: 1 g
  • Sodium‌: 300 mg, 13% Daily Value (DV)
  • Potassium‌: 150 mg, 3% DV
  • Magnesium‌: 25 mg, 6% DV

Rehydration needs after an intense workout or for athletes are a little different than for someone who is sedentary or does only light to moderate exercise. Nuun has a water flavor tablet that's perfect for rehydrating after strenuous activity.

"Nuun flavor enhancers have only 15 calories and 1 gram of added sugar per tab, and are free of artificial flavors or ingredients," says Mitri. They include electrolytes often lost in sweat like magnesium, sodium and potassium.

As a product often used by athletes, Nuun is Informed Choice Certified, meaning that it's been third-party tested to be free from any banned substance in sport by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Pros

  • Only 1 gram of sugar
  • Replenishes electrolytes with magnesium, potassium and sodium
  • No artificial colors or sweeteners
  • Informed Choice Certified

Cons

  • Not a complete post-workout drink as it's too low in carbs
  • Some customer reviews claim the tablets stick together, making them difficult to separate in the tube

Buy It

Amazon ($24.53 for 40 tablets); Nuun ($7.49 for 10 tablets)

5. Best With Collagen: Vital Proteins Hydration+ Collagen

Current research shows collagen supports increased skin elasticity, hydration and dermal collagen density in aging skin.
Image Credit: Vital Proteins
  • Calories‌: 25
  • Added sugars‌: 1 g
  • Collagen protein‌: 5 g
  • Potassium‌: 670 mg, 14% DV
  • Vitamin C‌: 90 mg, 100% DV
  • Magnesium‌:72 mg, 17% DV

These water flavor packets from Vital Proteins can help you drink more water while giving you a boost of collagen and electrolytes. If you're looking to increase your potassium quickly, like after a hard workout or an illness, one of these packets has 14 percent of your DV for potassium.

Collagen is a protein that provides structural support to connective tissue found all over the body. It's especially important in maintaining skin structure and bone and joint strength, per a September 2021 article in StatPearls.

Effective doses of collagen range from 2.5 to 10 grams a day, per a January 2019 review in the ‌Journal of Drugs in Dermatology‌, and one of these packets carries 5 grams of collagen.

Pros

  • Contains electrolytes and collagen to support skin and hydration
  • Only 1 gram of added sugar
  • 100% DV of vitamin C

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not suitable for vegan or vegetarian diets

Buy It

Vital Proteins ($9.99 for 7 packets); Amazon ($7.99 for 7 packets)

6. Best Budget-Friendly Option: Stur Liquid Water Enhancer

Stur is sweetened with stevia rather than artificial sugar.
Image Credit: Stur
  • Calories‌: 0
  • Added sugars‌: 0 g
  • Vitamin C‌: 18 mg, 20% DV

Costing only $0.20 per serving, Stur is one of the best low-cost water enhancers around. With zero calories or sugar, Stur is naturally sweetened with stevia and gets its vibrant colors from vegetable juices. Plus, it has added nutrients to support immune health.

"Just one squeeze has 20 percent of your daily needs for vitamin C," says Mitri.

Because you can easily add more or less flavor just by adding an extra squeeze, this product is a good choice if you prefer a more potent, sweeter flavor in your water, Mitri says. The bottles are easy to carry in your purse or bag and are shelf stable, so no need to refrigerate between uses.

Pros

  • Zero calories
  • No artificial sweeteners or ingredients
  • Several flavors available

Cons

  • Some customer reviews state that the stevia taste is strong and overpowers the flavors

Buy It

Target ($2.99); Amazon ($19.76 for 5 bottles)

7. Best With Caffeine: Hydrant Energy

Switch up your morning cup of joe for this refreshing lemon water flavoring.
Image Credit: Hydrant
  • Calories‌: 25
  • Added sugars‌: 4 g
  • Magnesium‌: 30 mg, 8% DV
  • Zinc‌: 2 mg, 20% DV

If you need a pick-me-up, Hydrant can help you ward off fatigue by improving hydration, giving you an electrolyte boost and a caffeine fix.

Each serving has 100 milligrams of caffeine, about the same amount as an 8-ounce cup of coffee. But because it also has 200 milligrams of L-theanine, you can expect an even release of energy to improve your focus and attention instead of an instant surge of anxious energy.

Taking 200 milligrams of L-theanine along with 100 milligrams of caffeine can reduce perceived anxiety and blood pressure response associated with mental tasks that otherwise create stress and a rise in blood pressure, per an October 2012 study in the ‌Journal of Physiological Anthropology‌.

It does have 4 grams of added sugar, which is more than dietitians would usually recommend, but if you need an energy boost, the small amount of sugar may be beneficial.

Pros

  • Includes electrolytes
  • Caffeine and L-theanine for steady energy and focus
  • No artificial flavors, sweeteners or stevia

Cons

  • 4 grams of added sugar

Buy It

Target ($12.99 for a 12-pack); Amazon ($34.99 for 30 packets)

8. Best With Electrolytes: Ultima Replenisher

Sweetened with stevia and flavored and colored with plants, Ultima is a great way to drink more water.
Image Credit: Ultima
  • Calories‌: 0
  • Added sugars‌: 0 g
  • Vitamin C‌: 100 mg, 110% DV
  • Magnesium‌: 100 mg, 25% DV
  • Potassium‌: 250 mg, 6% DV
  • Sodium‌: 55mg, 2% DV
  • Zinc‌: 1 mg, 10% DV

Ultima is a great-tasting calorie-free and sugar-free water flavor packet that helps to replace electrolytes lost through everyday activities and exercise.

One serving of Ultima has 25 percent of the DV for magnesium. Many people in the United States get less than the recommended amount of magnesium from food, per the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This mineral is essential for regulating muscle and nerve function, blood sugar, blood pressure and making proteins and bone.

Pros

  • Zero calories or sugar
  • No artificial colors or flavors
  • Flavored and colored with plants
  • Vegan and gluten-free

Cons

  • Only a small amount of sodium, which may not be enough to replace high rapid fluid losses

Buy It

Ultima Replenisher ($20.99 for 20 packets); Amazon ($16.43 for 20 packets)

9. Best for Kids: True Lemon Kids

One serving of True Lemon Kids has only 2 grams of added sugars compared to 27 grams in the same amount of soda.
Image Credit: True Lemon
  • Calories‌: 10
  • Added sugars‌: 2 g
  • Vitamin C‌: 23 mg, 25% DV
  • Vitamin E‌: 3.75 mg, 25% DV
  • Vitamin A‌: 225 mcg, 25% DV

True Lemon Kids comes in seven fun flavors and features no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. The fruity flavors and vibrant colors are naturally sourced from fruits and vegetables. If you have a hard time getting your little one to drink water, these water flavor packets will have them looking forward to their water.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following fluid intakes (water and milk) for kids each day:

  • Ages 1-3: Four cups
  • Ages 4-8: Five cups
  • Older than 8: Seven to eight cups

These water flavorings are a great way to reduce the amount of added sugars your kids take in while also increasing their water intake. Kids should get fewer than 25 grams of added sugars per day, per the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Pros

  • Naturally flavored and colored
  • Seven flavors to choose from
  • 25% DV for vitamins A, C and E

Cons

  • Has 2 grams of added sugar

Buy It

True Lemon ($4.24 for 10 packets); Amazon ($3.79 for 10 packets)

How to Choose Healthy Water Flavorings

Use this list as a starting point. And when you're choosing other water flavor packets, keep this list of criteria in mind:

1. Low in Added Sugar

Many water flavorings have added sugars, making the nutritional value more like soda than water. Diets high in added sugars can lead to weight gain and health conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Choose a water flavoring that's low in added sugars and sweetened naturally using ingredients like fruit, stevia, monk fruit or other natural low-calorie sweeteners.

2. Low in Calories

Water is the ultimate way to stay hydrated without adding extra unnecessary calories to your diet. If you're adding water flavor packets to several glasses of water per day, the calories can start to add up and potentially lead to unwanted weight gain.

Pick a water flavoring that has less than 25 calories to keep your water a low-calorie drink.

3. Free From Artificial Colors, Flavors and Sweeteners

Choose brands that use natural flavors, sweeteners and colors. Because many water flavorings have added vitamins and minerals, the ingredient lists may be difficult to decipher.

Most brands that skip artificial ingredients advertise this quality on the packaging.

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