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Am I Drinking Too Much Seltzer Water?

By Becky Wade, Outside, 10/10/19, 7:15PM CDT

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Carbonated water, from this running dietitian’s perspective, is a neutral hydrator for athletes: it’s absolutely better than drinking nothing, on par with flat water when consumed moderately and after working out, and negative when consumed in excess.

Take a spin through the nearest grocery store, or rummage through the cooler at any party, and you’re bound to encounter a can of carbonated water. The market, which used to be dominated by LaCroix, Perrier, and San Pellegrino, is home to a robust class of newcomers like BublySpindrift, and Waterloo. And Topo Chico, formerly an under-the-radar classic, has developed a devoted fan base, with familiar flavors like lime and grapefruit, though it’s increasingly sharing shelf space with options like blackberry-cucumber and pear-kiwi.

Most seltzer waters are sugar- and calorie-free, which many people use as a license to chug the stuff like it’s plain old water. As a professional runner, I’m guilty, too. My races this summer have been a cruel mix of hot and humid, and I have yet to find anything as refreshing as a little post-race fizz. But when I found myself four seltzers deep one Sunday at 10 A.M., I couldn’t help but wonder: Was I really hydrating myself? How was the carbonation impacting my recovery? And is there any reason I should limit my seltzer consumption near workouts or in general? I called up Laura McClure, a former Division I runner and a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in exercise and sports nutrition, to help set the record straight.