The reason they’re so tasty is because they’re chock-full of artificial sweeteners that are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar
Stop drinking soda, they say. Drink more water, they say. Problem is, not everyone actually likes to down H2O by the bottle-full.
That's why people who love soda and other sugary drinks are increasingly turning to low-cal or no-cal flavored packets and drops like Crystal Light, MiO, and DASANI DROPS to flavor their water (or even vodka sodas at the bar). But can the sugar-saving tactic help you lose weight?
For women trying to wean themselves off of sugary drinks in order to cut calories and sugar, flavor packets really can work like a charm, says Debra Nessel, R.D.N., a certified diabetes educator at Torrance Memorial Medical Center in California.
They come in an array of super-sweet varieties—depending on the brand you choose, you can try blackberry lemonade, pear acai, and strawberry watermelon—and are tasty enough to make kicking your full-cal soda habit way less painful, which can slash your daily calorie intake.
Unfortunately, the reason they’re so tasty is because they’re chock-full of artificial sweeteners that are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar, says Nessel. For instance, MiO Original makes things sweet with a combination of acesulfame potassium and sucralose (Splenda), while Crystal Light Classics contains one of the most common artificial sweeteners, aspartame.
That’s the same stuff you’ll find in diet sodas. Even more annoying, 2017 research from Massachusetts General Hospital shows that aspartame may actually promote weight gain by interfering with healthy gut enzymes.
While the Food and Drug Administration considers all of these sweeteners safe, food manufacturers are working to make some flavor packets more appealing to those looking for a more natural flavor enhancer. For instance, Crystal Light now has a Pure line that uses sugar and stevia, which is considered more natural since it's derived from stevia leaves, for a total of 15 calories per serving and Skinnygirl Water Enhancer contains just five calories per serving from a combo of cane sugar and stevia.
But even though these new flavor packets are more natural, they still aren’t as good for your health or weight-loss efforts as real fruit-infused water, says Nessel. That's because natural flavors from fruit and fresh herbs gives your bod a boost of vitamins and minerals, which fight fat-gain-promoting inflammation and naturally up electrolyte levels (and thus, energy levels). The result: You get some extra help reaching your healthiest weight, she says.
“I routinely encourage my clients to substitute these packaged water flavorings with water infused with any combination of lemon, lime, mint, cucumber, or sliced fruit, especially berries,” says Nessel.
And while those little drops can be handy AF, keeping a pitcher of fruity water in your fridge isn’t that difficult either. You can also buy an infuser water bottle (we like this one from Bobble) and fill it in the morning with your favorite flavors. Then, just keep adding more water to your fruit infusion throughout the day.
The bottom line: Yes, swapping your daily Dr. Pepper for a flavored drop-infused water can save you lots of calories, but to get more bang for your water-sipping buck stick to natural fruit infusions.