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Making the Right Beverage Choice for You

Neva Cochran, MS, RDN, LD

As a registered dietitian nutritionist my colleagues and I don’t believe there’s one perfect way of eating or right diet for everyone. Likewise, the same goes for beverages. There’s no one-size-fits all drink. The good news is all beverages hydrate, even those with caffeine, according to the Institute of Medicine. (1) And there are a variety of choices to fit each person’s lifestyle and unique needs. Let’s consider a few examples.

After Exercise- After a strenuous workout of over an hour or in very hot conditions, a sports drink is appropriate not only to rehydrate but also replace electrolytes like sodium and potassium lost through perspiration. For a more casual exerciser doing a two-mile walk, a bottle of water would be the better alternative.

At Work- If a job that requires a lot of physical exertion like a postman delivering mail by foot, a construction worker, a landscaper or a server in a busy restaurant, a regular soft drink can replace calories burned along with refreshment. On the other hand, someone working in a sedentary office position and also trying to lose weight could opt for a calorie-free soda or unsweetened or low calorie sweetened tea.

With Meals- Meals are an ideal time to consume beverages that will hydrate and help meet nutrition needs. Juice with vitamins A and C and milk with protein, calcium, and vitamins A and D are both tasty options. A coffee latte either brewed or in a bottle, is a great way to get your morning shot of caffeine and a serving of milk.


1. “Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate” Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Science, 2004, pages 133 – 134

Neva Cochran is an award winning registered dietitian nutritionist and nutrition communications consultant in Dallas, Texas. A veteran media spokesperson and popular speaker she was also a 20-year freelancer for Woman’s World Weekly magazine. She is a past president of the Texas Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics and past chair of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation.

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