Is diet soda a weight-smart choice? Does coffee really dehydrate? Here’s what to know to help you order smart on the road.

Traveling can be thirsty work: One day you’re drying up in a zero-humidity airplane cabin, and another you’re parched from striding across a new city. If you’re letting common beverage myths dictate how you slake your thirst, you might be doing more harm than good, or at least narrowing your options unnecessarily.

Myth: Caffeinated coffee dehydrates you.

Truth: A recent study of male coffee drinkers found that they were equally as hydrated when they drank 4 cups of coffee as they were when they traded the java for the same amount of water. Experts believe that drinking coffee regularly may cause the body to adapt to the caffeine intake, effectively cancelling out coffee’s diuretic effects.

Myth: Diet soda helps prevent weight gain.

Truth: According to new research, people who are overweight and drink diet soda typically eat more total calories than those who drink the sugary version. The artificial sweeteners in diet drinks may confuse the part of the brain that recognizes sweet flavors, resulting in an increase in cravings. A smarter calorie-free option is unsweetened iced tea, which is also rich in antioxidants.

Myth: Fruit juice isn’t worth ordering.

You may have heard that it’s better to eat a piece of fruit than drinking juice, thanks to the fiber found in the edible version. While that’s true, experts say there’s nothing wrong with enjoying 4 ounces of juice a day. Just make sure to ask for 100 percent fruit juice, which has no added sugar. If you want to stretch the juice, mix it with seltzer to create a healthy spritzer.

Myth: After a workout, nothing beats a sports drink.

Truth: If you’re exercising for only an hour or so, you won’t be losing enough minerals to warrant a sports drink. Plain water is all you need, but if that doesn’t seem like it will satisfy, consider coconut water. Compared with a sports drink, coconut water contains about 30 fewer calories and 10 fewer grams of carbohydrates per 8-ounce serving. It also offers more calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin C.

 

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From the editors of Prevention