Drinking Plain Water? Here Are 10 RD-Approved Alternatives!

Article By: Whittany Gibson, RDN

Whittany is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in bariatric nutrition counseling, and owner of Level Up Bariatrics, LLC, a bariatric lifestyle coaching program that provides pre and post-op support for weight loss surgery patients. Learn more on Instagram (@level_up_bariatrics).

Getting in water after bariatric surgery can be as simple as it sounds or seems like climbing Mt. Everest — it depends on the patient. As a bariatric dietitian, I’ve realized that some people just really don’t like the taste of plain water, while others find the consistency uncomfortable or difficult to tolerate with their new stomach. For whatever reason the difficulty, these reports led me to explore alternative hydrating options with various consistencies and flavors to prevent dehydration, a common concern after surgery. Luckily, there are numerous options to experiment with!

First and foremost, always keep your post-WLS goal in mind for clear fluid intake (64 oz per day). Also, think about the term "clear." I guide my clients by using the "see-through test” to understand what clear fluids are — transparent liquids that aid hydration. Any other liquid falls under full liquids, which are typically more calorie-rich.

I encourage clients to view clear liquids as essential for hydration and full liquids and solids as calorie sources. Basically, if you hold the fluid up to light, you can see through it (generally), and if not, it’s opaque and considered a full liquid. There are general exceptions like popsicles which are frozen and obviously unable to see through. However, when melted, it’s likely you will. Get the gist? Let’s take a look at some examples of clear liquids to keep on hand or try after bariatric surgery to keep you hydrated.

1) Infused water.

Add a splash of flavor to your water by infusing it with fresh fruits, vegetables, or herbs. Think cucumber, lemon, strawberries, or mint. Try a fruit infuser water bottle to keep it convenient, or pre-make ice cubes to throw in your water!

2) Herbal tea.

Enjoy a variety of caffeine-free herbal teas. They are hydrating and can be served hot or cold.

3) Broth-based soups.

Sipping on broth-based soups can contribute to your fluid intake while also providing nourishment and warmth. The sodium can especially be helpful if you’re experiencing low blood pressure after surgery, which can be common.

4) Coconut water.

Known for its electrolytes, coconut water can be a hydrating alternative with added nutrients. Add to smoothies if you don’t particularly like the taste.

5) Watermelon.

Packed with water and sweet in taste, watermelon is a satisfying way to hydrate and curb sugar cravings simultaneously.

6) Cucumber sticks.

Crunchy and refreshing, snacking on cucumber can sneak more hydration into your day.

7) Protein waters.

These are a great option to kill two birds with one stone! You get your protein and your hydration! There are some options that offer electrolytes too! If you want to keep yours all-natural to control the ingredients, try making your own!

8) Sugar-free popsicles.

For a refreshing treat, sugar-free popsicles can cool you down while contributing to your daily fluids. Aim for all-natural versions with no added sugar or artificial ingredients.

9) Clear sugar-free beverages.

Look for sugar-free drinks that contain electrolytes to replenish what your body may lose throughout the day. One of my favorites is Body Armor Lyte! There are no artificial ingredients or colors, and it is ultra-hydrating.

10) Decaffeinated coffee.

If you enjoy coffee, decaf versions can provide a familiar taste without the dehydrating effects of caffeine.

Do any of these options sound interesting to you? Go ahead, give them a try! Having various options available can mean the difference between meeting your fluid needs and not — and we want you to meet and eventually exceed them! Remember to plan ahead and have resources available to help you meet your daily goal (designated water bottle, timers, etc). Whatever it is you need to help promote intake, give it a try!

BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.

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