Enhanced Waters: Are They As Good As They Claim To Be? (Part 3)

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At the risk of being repetitive, I’m still surprised at the number of “designer” drinks that have popped up in what seems to be such a short while. But maybe I just haven’t been paying close enough attention, as I tend to stick with drinking the same types of beverages.

Frankly, I’m fascinated by some of the things manufacturers put in their products and the associated health claims they make. I’ll wrap up the series on enhanced waters this week, looking at two more of these fancy waters. (Click here to learn about VitaminWater and here to learn about SoBe Lifewater.)

Skinny Water
Trying to lose weight? You’d better grab a bottle or two of Skinny Water. Endorsed by celebrities such as former Desperate Housewive’s star Nicollette Sheridan, this is an enhanced water that’s cleverly marketed to those searching for that magic bullet to make them slim and svelte. In theory, it would be great if a colorful drink could help a person achieve that, but we really should know better by now.

If you check out the product’s Web site, you’ll note the high-tech features and colorful graphics. There are six varieties of Skinny Water: Wake Up, Total-V, Crave Control, Shape, Hi-Energy, and XXX-Detox. Each of these beverages is cleverly linked to a particular time of day. For example, jump-start your day with a bottle of Wake Up. Then, midday, when those cravings kick in, drink a bottle of Crave Control. Stay hydrated in the afternoon with a bottle of Shape. And before painting the town at night, don’t forget to drink some Hi-Energy. Top everything off with a bottle of XXX-Detox before you crawl into bed so that you have the strength to start all over again the next morning. There are suggested meal and snack ideas that go along with each drink, and if as if that weren’t enough, suggested songs, too, that you can easily download on iTunes.

I took a close look at a bottle of “Wake Up” Orange Cranberry Tangerine Skinny Water. Here’s what’s on the Nutrition Facts Label of a 16-ounce bottle:

  • Serving size: 8 ounces
  • Calories: 0
  • Total Carbohydrate: 0 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams
  • Vitamin A: 600 IU (12% Daily Value)
  • Vitamin C: 75 milligrams (125% Daily Value)
  • Calcium: 65 milligrams (7% Daily Value)
  • Sodium: 0 milligrams
  • Potassium: 100 milligrams (3% Daily Value)
  • EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate): 12 milligrams

The ingredients include super purified water, green tea catechins, gum arabic, ester of wood rosin, some vitamins and minerals, and two nonnutritive sweeteners: acesulfame K and sucralose. On the one hand, you could give the company (Skinny Nutritional Corp) some credit since this drink isn’t loaded with sugar. With 0 grams of carbohydrate and no calories, it can easily fit into a diabetes eating plan. But on the other hand, this company cleverly markets these beverages as boosting metabolism and burning calories by adding a variety of nutrients (more than you need in one beverage, by the way), herbs, and EGCG (an antioxidant found in green tea that in laboratory experiments seems to boost metabolism — but the amount needed to do so is not well established). No scientific studies are listed on the Web site to support any of these claims — likely, because there aren’t any. Oh, but if you’re a high-energy, adventurous college student, you can sign up to become a Skinny Water ambassador, spreading the word about this miraculous elixir to the unenlightened masses.

Fruit2O Essentials
Fruit2O is fine. The “regular” Fruit2O, that is. Now there’s Fruit2O Essentials. Why are they essential? The product Web site claims that these enhanced waters “nourish your body with nutrients equal to two servings of fruit.” Take the Fruit2O essentials citrus flavor. One bottle contains:

  • Calories: 0
  • Total Carbohydrate: 1 gram
  • Fiber: 1 gram
  • Sodium: 105 milligrams
  • Potassium: 350 milligrams

It also contains vitamins C and B6, pantothenic acid, zinc, and manganese. It’s sweetened with sucralose, and the one gram of fiber comes from maltodextrin. It’s true that citrus fruits contain vitamin C, potassium, and zinc. But they’re not known for having B vitamins, nor 105 milligrams of sodium. Also, Fruit2O Essentials don’t contain anywhere near the fiber or phytonutrients (plant-derived nutrients that may have health benefits) that you’d find in, say, an orange. Two servings of fruit in 16 ounces of Fruit2O Essentials? Very unlikely. Stick with fresh fruit for nutrition. Skip the colored sugar waters (or sweetened waters) with ingredients that you’ll likely not need, and save money by drinking water with slices of lemon or lime.

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