Most of us may have water on tap and milk chilling in the fridge, but did you know these budget-friendly bevs (and more!) could do more than quench your thirst? We’ve rounded up 21 drink suggestions for every type of situation and need. From pickle juice to whiskey to cherry juice, these drinks can boost endurance, ease colds, and even help beat upset stomachs.
To Build Muscle — Milk
Milk can get you jacked. Bro or not, milk contains the proteins whey and casein (both have all the essential amino acids) that help build muscleConsumption of fat-free fluid milk after resistance exercise promotes greater lean mass accretion than does consumption of soy or carbohydrate in young, novice, male weightlifters. Hartman, J.W., Tang, J.E., Wilkinson, S.B., et al. Exercise Metabolism Research Group, Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Aug;86(2):373-81..
To Lose Weight — Green Tea/Grapefruit Juice
Turn to the world’s most widely consumed beverage, green tea, which can help control weight by slightly enhancing metabolism (with four cups a day)Beneficial effects of green tea — a review. Cabrera, C., Artacho, R., Gimenez, R., Departamento de Nutrición y Bromatología, Facultad de Farmacia, Campus Universitario de Granada, Granada, Spain.Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2006 Apr;25(2):79-99.Green tea supplemetation affects body weight, lipids, and lipid peroxidation in obese subjects with metabolic syndrome. Basu, A., Sanchez, K., Leyva, M.J. et al. Nutritional Sciences, Human Environmental Sciences, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2010 Feb;29(1):31-40.. Grapefruit juice has also been shown to have weight loss benefits, and eating ½ a grapefruit with each meal showed greater benefits than juice aloneEffects of grapefruit, grapefruit juice and water preloads on energy balance, weight loss, body composition, and cardiometabolic risk in free-living obese adults. Silver, H.J., Dietrich, M.S., Niswender, K.D. Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2011 Feb 2;8(1):8..
To Recover — Water/Chocolate Milk/Sports Drink
Most important after a workout: Drink water to replace water or sweat lossesRecovery from prolonged exercise: restoration of water and electrolyte balance. Maughan, R.J., Shirreffs, S.M. University Medical School, Aberdeen, UK. Journal of Sports Sciences, Jun;15(3):297-303.. Chocolate milk can also help the body recover after exercise because of its carb-to-protein ratio (four to one)Chocolate milk and endurance exercise recovery: protein balance, glycogen, and performance. Lunn, W.R., Pasiakos, S.M., Colleto, M.R. Exercise Science Department, Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, CT. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2012 Apr;44(4):682-91.. Or try making your own sports drink — with carbs, sodium, potassium, and sometimes a hint of protein — for a cheaper, more natural (less fluorescent alternative).
For a Run — Water/Tart Cherry Juice/Coconut Water
Water should be the first go-to, but longer runs (90 minutes or more) may require a sports drink like Gatorade to replace lost sodium and other electrolytesDehydration rates and rehydration efficacy of water and sports drink during one hour of moderate intensity exercise in well-trained flatwater kayakers. Sun, J.M., Chia, J.K., Aziz, A.R., et al. Annals of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore, 2008 Apr;37(4):261-5.. Drinking tart cherry juice for a week before a strenuous run can minimize post-run muscle pain, tooEfficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial. Kuehl, K.S., Perrier, E.T., Elliot, D.L., et al. Department of Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 2010 May 7;7:17.Montmorency cherry juice reduces muscle damage caused by intensive strength exercise. Bowtell, J.L., Sumners, D.P., Dyer, A. Sports and Exercise Science Research Centre, London South Bank University, London, United Kingdom. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2011 Aug;43(8):1544-51.. But it doesn’t always have to take that long. Tart cherry juice can also improve muscle recovery when it’s consumed immediately after a workoutMontmorency cherry juice reduces muscle damage caused by intensive strength exercise. Bowtell, J.L., Sumners, D.P., Dyer, A., et al. Sports and Exercise Science Research Centre, London South Bank University, London, United Kingdom. Medicine in Science and Sports Exercise, 2011 Aug;43(8):1544-51.. Coconut water has been found to offer the same hydration and exercise endurance support as the leading sports drink, but with fewer caloriesRehydration with sodium-enriched coconut water after exercise-induced dehydration. Ismail, I., Singh, R., Sirisinghe, R.G., Sports Science Unit, School of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Kubang Kerian, Kelantan. Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health. 2007 Jul;38(4):769-85..
For Muscle Cramps — Pickle Juice
If you can stomach it, pickle juice might help alleviate Charlie horses — painful muscle spasms, usually in the legs. Those same cramp-fighting properties can also help people prevent painful contractions from even occurring. Research suggests the juice may even help our muscles and brains communicate better when fatiguedReflex inhibition of electrically induced muscle cramps in hypohydrated humans. Miller, K.C., Mack, G.W., Knight, K.L. Department of Health, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2010 May;42(5):953-61..
For an Upset Stomach — Ginger Ale
Sick to your stomach? Maybe drinking all that pickle juice to quell muscle cramps did you in. Even though kicking back fluids may be the last activity on the want-to-do list, stick to clear liquids — like water and ginger ale — and sports drinks to get the body some much-needed hydrationGinger (Zingiber officinale) reduces acute chemotherapy-induced nausea: A URCC CCOP study of 576 patients. Ryan, J.L, Heckler, C.E., Roscoe, J.A., et al. Department of Dermatology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY et al. Support Care Cancer, 2012 July; 20(7): 1479-1489.Dehydration rates and rehydration efficacy of water and sports drink during one hour of moderate intensity exercise in well-trained flatwater kayakers. Sun, J.M., Chia, J.K., Aziz, A.R., et al. Changi Sports Medicine Centre, Changi General Hospital, Singapore. Annals of the Academy of Medicine Singapore, 2008 Apr;37(4):261-5.. Ginger ale may also do the trick since ginger root can help treat nausea. (Pro tip: Flat soda will be easier on the stomach without that carbonation.)
For a Head Cold — Lemon and Honey Tea
Drinking fluids can generally help loosen up the gunk that makes us congested (hot tea or broth may be especially helpful)Nasal Congestion. A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. Last reviewed: August 2, 2011.. It may be best, however, to steer clear of milk and other dairy beverages when you’re all stuffed up. Some people might be more susceptible to an increase in phlegm production (ew) when loading up on dairyDoes milk increase mucus production? Bartley, J., McGlashan, S.R. Division of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Counties-Manukau District Health Board, New Zealand. Medical Hypotheses 2010 Apr;74(4):732-4. Epub 2009 Nov 25.. A hot toddy — whiskey, lemon, and honey — may alleviate a cold (and there’s liquor, so it’s got to make us feel better, right?).
For a Cough — Honey
Honey can help treat coughs associated with upper respiratory tract infections because it coats the back of the throat and the sweetness may cause us to salivateEffect of honey, dextromethorphan, and no treatment on nocturnal cough and sleep quality for coughing children and their parents. Paul, I.M., Beiler, J., McMonagle, A. Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine, Pennsylvania State University, Hershey, PA. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.2007 Dec;161(12):1140-6.. Drink plenty of fluids in general, because they help thin the mucus lodged in the throat and make it easier to cough upCough. A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. Last reviewed: May 25, 2011..
For a Sore Throat — Turmeric Tea
Drinking most fluids will help keep the throat moist. To sooth a sore throat, try Mark Sisson’s creamy turmeric tea. Warm almond milk (made from ground almonds and water), ginger, cayenne, and honey combine for a magical peacemaker to an unhappy throat. The turmeric helps because it can reduce inflammation in the throatChapter 13 Turmeric, the Golden Spice. From Traditional Medicine to Modern Medicine. Prasad, S., Aggarwal, B. Bookshelf ID: NBK92752PMID: 22593922.
For Mouth Sores — Coconut Milk
We don’t have to tell you to avoid spicy stuff… it’s gonna hurt. If you do have mouth sores or burns from hot food, try gargling (or drinking some) coconut milk because coconut oil can help treat fungal infections, like canker soresIn vitro antimicrobial properties of coconut oil on Candida species in Ibadan, Nigeria. Ogbolu, D.O., Oni, A.A., Daini, O.A. Department of Medical Microbiology & Parasitology, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria. Journal of Medicinal Food, Jun;10(2):384-7..
For Constipation — Aloe
If you’re backed up, try aloe drinks — aloe has laxative effectsAloe Vera: A Short Review. Surjushe, A., Vasani Indian Journal of Dermatology. 2008; 53(4): 163–166.. A hefty glass of water with powdered psyllium (a plant fiber) can also help get you on the right trackPsyllium. AHFS Consumer Medication Information. Last Revision: October 1, 2010..
For Sleepiness — Coffee/Water/Spirulina
For a mid-day pick-me-up, sip on a mug of coffee (duh). Water can perk you up, too, and so can a drink spiked with spirulina powder (you can get it at most health food stores). The powder, derived from blue-green algae, is one of the most nutrient dense foods with a ton of vitamins and minerals that boost energySpirulina in health care management. Kulshreshtha, A., Zacharia, A.J., Jarouliya, U., et al. School of Studies in Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Jiwaji University, India. Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, 2008 Oct;9(5):400-5..
To Fall Asleep — Tart Cherry Juice/Warm Milk/Chamomile
Brandy used to be the go-to sedative in the medical community during the 19th centuryMedicinal brandy. Guly, H., Emergency Department, Derriford Hospital Plymouth, Derriford Rd., Plymouth, UK. 2011 July; 82(7-2): 951–954.. A hot whiskey (or seven) before bed may soothe you into dreamland, but for an alcohol-free drink, try tart cherry juice. It ups melatonin levels, which help improve sleep duration and sleep qualityEffect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality. Howatson, G., Bell, P.G., Tallent, J. School of Life Sciences, Northumbria University, Northumberland Building, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. European Journal of Nutrition, 2011Oct 30.. Chamomile can also help ease you into a deep sleepChamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. Srivastava, J.K, Shankar, E., Gupta, S. Department of Urology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. Molecular Medicine Reports, 2012 Nov 1; 3(6): 895-901..
To Lift Spirits — Lemon Balm Tea
Lemon balm tea, herbs steeped in hot water, can chill us out when we’re peevedModulation of mood and cognitive performance following acute administration of single doses of Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm) with human CNS nicotinic and muscarinic receptor-binding properties. Kennedy, D.O., Wake, G., Savelev, S., et al. Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit, Division of Psychology, Northumbria University, UK. Neuropsychopharmacology, 2003 Oct;28(10):1871-81.. Teatime, in general, has been found to reduce blood pressureTime for tea: mood, blood pressure and cognitive performance effects of caffeine and theanine administered alone and together. Rogers, P.J., Smith, J.E., Heatherley, S.V., et al. Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol, UK. Psychopharmacology, 2008 Jan;195(4):569-77. Epub 2007 Sep 23..
For Digestion — Water/Herbal Tea
Drinking water while eating (and after eating) helps digest food, as does herbal tea (especially mint or peppermint)Herbal remedies for dyspepsia: peppermint seems effective. Prescrire International. 2008 Jun;17(95):121-3.Effects of Cinnamomum zeylancium (Ceylon cinnamon) on blood glucose and lipids in a diabetic and healthy rat model. Ranasinghe, P., Perera, S., Gunatilake, M., Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Pharmacognosy Research, 2012 Apr-Jun; 4(2): 73–79.. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon for an extra digestion aid.
For Spicy Food — Milk/Yogurt
The fat and protein in milk or drinkable yogurt (such as kefir) can ease the burn of spicy food (so nonfat milk or dairy products may not do the trick)Temporal effectiveness of mouth-rinsing on capsaicin mouth-burn. Nasrawi, C.W., Pangborn, R.M. Department of Food Science and Technology, University of California. Physiology and Behavior, 1990 Apr;47(4):617-23.. The slightly acidic milk helps neutralize ingredients like capsaicin, which are basic.
For a Hangover — Water/Orange Juice/Banana Smoothie
Drinking water is key to avoid feeling like death the morning after. But if it’s too late (we’ve all been there), whip up a banana-spinach smoothie. The two potassium rich ingredients up the electrolytes lost from boozing too hard. Since alcohol leads to a drop in blood sugar, a glass of OJ can also help bring us back to normalEthanol acutely stimulates islet blood flow, amplifies insulin secretion and induces hypoglycemia via nitric oxide and vagally mediated mechanisms. Huang, Z., Sjoholm, A. Karolinska Institutet, Department of Internal Medicine, Stockholm South Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden. Endocrinology, 2008 Jan;149(1):232-6. Epub 2007 Oct 4..
For Dehydration — Coconut Water
Coconut water can rehydrate, perhaps more than plain old water. The carb-electrolyte balance is great for hydrating, especially after exerciseRehydration after exercise with fresh young coconut water, carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage and plain water. Saat, M., Singh, R., Sirisinghe, R.G., et al. Department of Physiology, School of Medical Science, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia. Journal of Physiologal Anthropology and Applied Human Science. 2002 Mar;21(2):93-104..
For Bad Breath — Water
This one’s easy. Since acids — like coffee, and orange juice — and sugary beverages bring on bad breath, it may be best to follow the malodorous beverages with water to wash that stink awayBreath odor. A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. Last reviewed: February 22, 2012..
For Hunger — Milk
Drinking water between meals can stave of hunger. In comparison with a fruit drink, guzzling skim milk leads to increased satiety (a fancy word for feeling full or satisfied)Skim milk compared with a fruit drink acutely reduces appetite and energy intake in overweight men and women. Dove, E.R., Hodgson, J.M., Puddey, I.B., et al. School of Medicine and Pharmacology, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2009 Jul;90(1):70-5. Epub 2009 May 27..
For Gas and Bloating — Water with Baking Soda
Not this kind of gas. If you’re out in public and afraid one will slip, mix a small amount of baking soda in a glass of water, and kick it back. Probiotic drinks may decrease flatulence tooAlteration of intestinal microflora is associated with reduction in abdominal bloating and pain in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Nobaek, S., Johansson, M.L., Molin, G., et al. Department of Surgery, Lund University, Lund University Hospital, Sweden. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2000 May;95(5):1231-8.. Also avoid sipping drinks through a straw. Inhaling all that air will cause… well you know.
What are your go-to drinks for ailments or workouts? Share your tips in the comments below!