Is there an alternative to drinking water? I get tired of it, but don't want to be dehydrated. —Audrey
There are plenty of alternatives to water, but you shouldn't cut it out altogether. While it may be boring, water acts as a solvent for minerals, vitamins, amino acids and glucose. It also helps lubricate the joints, detoxify the liver and kidneys, and regulate your body temperature. Marie Elena Scioscia, RDN, who works with The Ailey School, says that dancers should drink at least five to six cups of water per day—about half their fluid requirements. The rest can be made up with alternative drinks, as long as you're not consuming too much sugar or caffeine. (Scioscia notes that caffeine in small doses, about 180 milligrams, will not cause dehydration.)
Try infusing regular water with slices of fruit or cucumber to give it a little flavor, or diluting fruit juice with still or sparkling water. Homemade iced green tea sweetened with honey is another great option. And coffee, tea, 100-percent fruit juice or milk all contain water. Juicy fruits and vegetables, like grapes, oranges, tomatoes and cucumbers, are also a good source.
If you have a particularly dance-heavy day—for instance, if you're moving continuously (and, especially, sweating) for an hour or more—Scioscia recommends a sports drink like Gatorade to replace lost carbohydrates and electrolytes, like sodium. "Sports drinks are formulated to help give your body energy and replenish electrolytes so you can stay moving, focused and alert," Scioscia says. (Don't confuse these with vitamin-enhanced waters, which should be limited to one per day to avoid excessive vitamin intake.) She adds that coconut water, while hydrating and high in potassium, won't replace other vital electrolytes as well as a sports drink can.
As for what not to drink? Stay away from sweet sodas and energy drinks like Red Bull, which have limited nutritional value.
Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor in chief and former dancer Amy Brandt at firstname.lastname@example.org.