Upon examination of America’s drinking habits of late, sparkling water has never been more popular than it is right now. A glance at the market research reveals that 2018 generated nearly $49 million in sparkling water sales, a figure that was up 22 percent from the previous year.
And, frankly — who can blame us? Bubbly options abound at supermarkets these days, from La Croix and Perrier to San Pellegrino and Voss. And then, of course, there’s the myriad of flavor choices found within each brand. (Lime or lemon? Orange or apricot? Peach-pear or pamplemousse?)
But while it’s not our intention to burst anyone’s bubbles (I pen these very words as I drink a 365 Everyday ginger sparkling water) — we had to know the truth: Can we derive the same hydration from carbonated water that we can from bonafide H20?
Does Sparkling Water Hydrate You as Well as Still Water?
Good news for effervescence enthusiasts everywhere — according to a trial conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that compared flat water and carbonated water, there were “no significant differences in the effect of various combinations of beverages on 24-hour hydration status.”
“Intuitively, it’s hard to believe that carbonated water could be just as hydrating as still water because we naturally think that plain water is the only way to go — but it’s really not shaking out to be all that bad,” notes Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, author of The Superfood Swap. Registered dietitian Brittany Schrader agrees: “The presence of carbonation has little effect on the body’s ability to ingest water — in fact, it might actually lead some to consume more fluids if they enjoy it more than regular water.”
The findings are particularly encouraging when taking into consideration today’s suggested water intake: half your bodyweight in ounces, as compared to the eight-glass-a-day schooling on which many of us were raised. What’s more? Those figures can increase significantly based on exercise, humidity, age, and pregnancy — meaning chugging water throughout the day is key.
Is Carbonated Water Bad for You at All?
Because of the aforementioned need to guzzle large quantities of water, staying hydrated on bubbles alone may prove difficult. “Carbonation has the tendency to make people feel bloated,” says Jackson Blatner. “So the problem with hydrating with only sparkling water is that oftentimes people can’t drink as much of it. They actually start to feel full from it.”
That natural physiological reaction is likely a good thing. Though some research has been done to support the idea that carbonated water is, in general, safe for teeth and bones, there is still the underlying fact that it is more acidic than natural water — a reason why Jackson Blatner advises clients to consume carbonation in moderation.
“It’s important to remember that sparkling water does have a different pH level than still water,” notes Jackson Blatner. “Research can’t always pick up everything, and there aren’t significant studies exploring sparkling water’s effects on teeth and bones. So I suggest that my clients stick primarily to still water and call upon carbonation as a fun and flavorful way to get them past the daily hydration hurdle.”
That it’s a great swap for sugarier alternatives — from soda and juice to wine and beer — only sweetens the deal. “Instead of immediately reaching for higher-calorie options, we now have an alternative that still tastes great. And that looks just as special in a Champagne coupe,” notes Jackson Blatner.
Best Way to Hydrate: Sparkling Water or Flat?
In conclusion? For regular hydration, take to the tap. But for those everyday special occasions and small victories alike (yes — coworkers’ birthdays, summer Fridays, and making the morning bus on time all count) feel free to keep those bubbles flowing.