functional drinks

Functional Drinks

Once upon a time, hydration was enough.

By Rebecca Heaton

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Drinks for just hydration are so outdated. Now people want functional fluids with more benefits. We take a look at some of the most interesting brands.


This line of low-calorie, low-sugar drinks is flavored with a variety of natural fruit extracts and serves a variety of daily functions, from Sleep (with melatonin) and Bliss (stress reduction) to Sonic (energy), Trim (weight management) and Daily (immune support). All except Daily contain L-theanine, an amino acid commonly found in green tea that can reduce anxiety and high blood pressure, as well as improve mental acuity. Daily contains impressive RDAs of vitamin D (250%), vitamin C (100%) and zinc (50%), plus antioxidant-laden aloe vera. All drinks except Sleep are lightly carbonated.

Functions: sleep, stress reduction, immune support, energy, weight management

Flavors: Sleep (Mellow Mango), Bliss (White Raspberry), Daily (Tangerine Citrus), Sonic (Superfruit Infusion), Trim (Tropical Lychee)

Serving: 14.5 ounces | Calories: 35 | Sugars: 9g | Sodium: 0mg | Caffeine: 0–100mg, varies per flavor

Bai Antioxidant Infusions

Coffee fruit is the “secret” ingredient in Bai’s Antioxidant Infusions. It’s the pulp that surrounds a coffee bean and is laden with healthy antioxidants that strengthen your immunity and protect against free radicals. With no artificial colors or preservatives, Bai’s concoctions are low in calories—they use 0-calorie natural stevia leaf extract as a sweetener—and contain about one-third the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee.

Functions: energy, antioxidants, hydration

Flavors: 9 fruit-infused flavors

Serving: 8 ounces | Calories: 5 | Sugars: 1g | Sodium: 5mg | Caffeine: 35mg

Alō Original

Drinking aloe vera versus using it to soothe sunburn may sound odd, but don’t let that deter you from trying Alō. The Original line, which is Non-GMO Project Verified, is made with natural aloe vera juice and pulp, combined with fruit juices and other ingredients for a variety of flavors. Aloe vera is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and amino acids that offer numerous health benefits, including promoting healthy digestion and decreasing inflammation.

Functions: digestion, inflammation, antioxidants, hydration

Flavors: 10 flavors

Serving: 8 ounces | Calories: 60 | Sugars: 15g | Sodium: 30mg | Caffeine: 0mg

Zico 100% Coconut Water – Natural

Made from 100 percent Non-GMO Project Verified coconut water, with no added sugar, Zico naturally supports hydration with five electrolytes: potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium and phosphorus. You can also try cooking with it; substitute it for water when preparing veggies, rice or chicken for an added flavor and nutrition boost. Also available in blends with natural fruit flavors, and even one with chocolate.

Functions: electrolytes, hydration

Flavors: Natural, Watermelon Raspberry, Chocolate, Pineapple

Serving: 8.45 ounces | Calories: 50 | Sugars: 9g | Sodium: 70mg | Caffeine: 0mg

C2O Coconut Water

This 100 percent coconut water comes from young green coconuts harvested in Thailand. Non-GMO Project Verified with no artificial ingredients, colors or preservatives, C2O is low in calories and easy on the stomach, thanks to various enzymes that aid digestion and may boost fat metabolism. It also hosts necessary nutrients and electrolytes, including potassium and magnesium to maintain heart health and prevent dehydration.

Functions: electrolytes, hydration

Flavors: Natural, With Coconut Pulp, Chocolate, Pineapple Juice, Tropical Punch

Serving: 17.5 ounces | Calories: 50 | Sugars: 11g | Sodium: 66mg | Caffeine: 0mg

Guayakí Brand Yerba Mate

Yerba maté (yer-bah mah-tay) has the strength of coffee and the health benefits of tea. Made from the naturally caffeinated leaves of the rainforest holly tree in South America, maté has been sipped for centuries, traditionally from a gourd. It boasts 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids and numerous antioxidants, and is both fair-trade and organic certified. A feel-good factor: Guayakí is working to restore 200,000 acres of South American rainforest and create living-wage jobs.

Functions: mental acuity, energy

Flavors: 10 natural, fruit and herb flavors; sweetened and unsweetened; in bottles and cans

Serving: 8 ounces (mint flavor) | Calories: 56 | Sugars: 14g | Sodium: 10mg | Caffeine: 75mg

Just Chill

What gives these lightly carbonated drinks their calming effect? Suntheanine, a patented version of L-theanine. Found in green tea leaves, this amino acid may help you calm down by increasing the brain’s production of alpha waves, which are associated with relaxation. Along with natural flavors and fruit juices in each can, other healthful nutrients include vitamins B and C, magnesium, and zinc.

Functions: stress reduction, improved focus

Flavors: Tropical, Rio Berry and Jamaican Citrus

Serving: 1 can (12 ounces) | Calories: 70 | Sugars: 17g | Sodium: 0mg | Caffeine: 0mg

The Pickle Juice Company

According to a study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, pickle juice triggers a nerve reaction that relieves muscle cramps faster than water. The study showed that those who downed pickle brine stopped complaining of cramping within 85 seconds, about 37 percent faster than the water drinkers. Each bottle contains filtered water, vinegar, salt and natural dill flavor, plus added electrolytes (including potassium), vitamins C and E, and zinc.

Functions: muscle cramps, electrolytes, hydration

Flavors: One, available in 8- or 2.5-ounce bottles

Serving: 8 ounces | Calories: 0 | Sugars: 0g | Sodium: 820mg | Caffeine: 0mg

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