Carbonated water has emerged as a healthy, calorie-free alternative to soft drinks. It quenches your thirst, fills you up quickly and keeps you hydrated. On top of that, most brands contain trace minerals that support health and well-being.
What you may not know is that this bubbly beverage can make weight loss easier. The carbon dioxide in sparkling water suppresses appetite due to its satiating effect, which in turn, may help reduce your daily food intake.
Replace soda with carbonated water to stay full longer and reduce your calorie intake while you're on a diet.
Carbonated Water Nutritional Value
It's no secret that soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages can damage the tooth enamel, cause weight gain and affect metabolic health. According to a recent review published in Current Diabetes Reports in April 2018, American children consume twice as many calories from sports drinks, energy drinks and cola as they did 30 years ago. These beverages play a major role in the onset of diabetes and obesity. Diet soda isn't healthier either.
Carbonated water, on the other hand, is calorie-free and contains no artificial ingredients. Several varieties exist, including sparkling mineral water, club soda and seltzer. Sparkling mineral water, for example, contains minerals and trace elements that come from an underground source, as the Food and Drug Administration notes. Other types of carbonated water are infused with carbon dioxide — that's where the bubbles come from.
Most varieties contain small amounts of zinc, copper, calcium and sodium. Here are some examples:
- Club soda: 0 calories, 2 percent of the DV (daily value) of calcium, 4 percent of the DV of zinc, 4 percent of the DV of sodium and 1 percent of the DV of magnesium per can or bottle (16 fl. oz)
- Sparkling mineral water: 0 calories, 13 percent of the DV of calcium, 13 percent of the DV of magnesium and 3 percent of the DV of sodium per bottle (16.9 fl. oz)
- Seltzer water: 0 calories and no micronutrients
As you see, carbonated water has little nutritional value. Some varieties, such as seltzer water, contain no vitamins and minerals at all. The primary difference between them is the source of carbonation.
Beware that many brands contain artificial flavors, citric acid and added sugar. These beverages are no better than soda. Plain carbonated water is the healthiest option.
Read more: 12 Ways to Make Water Taste (Much) Better
Club Soda and Weight Loss
Whether you call it club soda, mineral water, soda water or seltzer, carbonated water is a healthy substitute for soda. First of all, it has no calories or carbs. You can drink as much as you want without having to worry about your waistline. Plus, it contains carbon dioxide gases, leaving you feeling full.
A small study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology in February 2012 assessed the effects of carbonated water on appetite and cardiac activity. Women who consumed this beverage experienced a greater increase in heart rate compared to those drinking plain water. They also reported enhanced feelings of fullness within 40 minutes of drinking carbonated water. The study, however, included only 19 women, so it cannot be considered definitive.
Little research exists on the relationship between club soda and weight loss. Most studies indicate that swapping water for soft drinks may help prevent weight gain and obesity. Club soda, seltzer and other similar beverages are nothing but water with bubbles. Therefore, they have similar effects on hydration status and body weight as plain water.
For example, a large-scale study published in the journal Nutrients in October 2016 has found that replacing one serving of beer or soda with one serving of water may aid in weight loss and reduce obesity risk. As the scientists note, both alcoholic beverages and sugar-sweetened beverages contain empty calories and have little or no nutritional value. Surprisingly, milk and other dairy products are not associated with weight gain despite their relatively high sugar content.
Read more: The Top 10 Beverages to Avoid
Carbonated Beverages and Metabolic Health
In August 2017, the journal Nutrients published a review on the relationship between mineral water and diabetes. In a six-month study, obese subjects who substituted two caloric beverages per day with water experienced a major reduction in fasting blood sugar levels and an increase in water intake.
Two clinical trials discussed in the Nutrients review found that obese and overweight women who replaced one daily serving of diet beverages with water lost more weight while on a diet. Their insulin sensitivity improved, too.
Other studies cited in the above review indicate that carbonated bicarbonate-rich water may help reduce certain glycemic parameters, such as fasting insulin, fasting plasma glucose levels, glycoalbumin and serum fructosamine. It's important to note that most studies were small, so the results may not be conclusive.
As mentioned earlier, some mineral waters contain trace minerals like zinc and magnesium. The Nutrients review reported that, in clinical trials, additional magnesium intake improved glucose metabolism in subjects with insulin resistance or pre-diabetes.
This shows that magnesium deficiency may contribute to diabetes and metabolic disturbances. Mineral water consumption can help increase your magnesium levels and improve diabetes symptoms. The research is mixed, though, so take these findings with a grain of salt.
Is Carbonated Water Healthy?
What about the disadvantages of sparkling water? Is this beverage really safe? Again, most studies that have been carried out report mixed results.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), carbonated drinks — including sparkling water — are safe for your teeth. In a study that compared regular lab water and sparkling mineral water, both beverages had the same effect on the tooth enamel. However, beware that citrus-flavored carbonated water is more acidic and can affect oral health.
Anecdotal evidence says that sparkling water and carbonated water, in general, can damage your stomach. This is just another myth that refuses to die. A January 2014 meta-analysis published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews showed that carbonated water is more beneficial than tap water for constipation relief in stroke victims.
You've probably heard that carbonated water depletes calcium from bones, which may lead to osteoporosis. Nothing could be further from the truth.
While it's true that cola may affect bone mineral density, non-cola carbonated beverages don't have this effect. The researchers at Harvard Health Publishing state that seltzer water consumption doesn't increase the risk of fractures or osteoporosis. Cola, on the other hand, may contribute to these disorders due to its caffeine content.
The only downside of drinking carbonated water is that you may experience bloating. If you suffer from heartburn, plain water is a better choice. Caffeine, alcohol and carbonated beverages may worsen heartburn in those with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), as the Cleveland Clinic points out.
Read more: Side Effects of Carbonated Water
All in all, carbonated water is a healthy choice for most dieters. Use it as a substitute for diet cola, soft drinks and other sugary beverages. Mix it with fresh lemon juice and add a few mint sprigs to enhance its flavor.
- Australian Dental Association: "Tooth Decay"
- NCBI: Current Diabetes Reports: "Sugar-Sweetened Beverage, Obesity, and Type 2 Diabetes in Children and Adolescents: Policies, Taxation, and Programs"
- NCBI: Current Developments in Nutrition: "Diet Soda and Sugar-Sweetened Soda Consumption in Relation to Incident Diabetes in the Northern Manhattan Study"
- Food and Drug Administration: "Bottled Water Everywhere: Keeping It Safe"
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Club Soda"
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Sparkling Mineral Water"
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Seltzer Water"
- Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology: "The Effects of Carbonated Water Upon Gastric and Cardiac Activities and Fullness in Healthy Young Women"
- MDPI: Nutrients: "Substitution Models of Water for Other Beverages, and the Incidence of Obesity and Weight Gain in the SUN Cohort"
- MDPI: Nutrients: "Prevention and Therapy of Type 2 Diabetes — What Is the Potential of Daily Water Intake and Its Mineral Nutrients?"
- American Dental Association: "Is Sparkling Water Bad for My Teeth?"
- NCBI: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: "Management of Faecal Incontinence and Constipation in Adults With Central Neurological Diseases"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "By the Way, Doctor: Does Carbonated Water Harm Bones?"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Lifestyle Guidelines for the Treatment of GERD"