The smartwater Two Week Challenge:
The Quest to Increase Your Hydration I.Q. One Day at a Time.
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January 13, 2009
The challenge is clear—drink more smartwater and see if you don’t feel better with every passing day. But can one beverage really do that? The people at smartwater are quite confident that it can. With my interest piqued, I embarked on 14 days of hydration to discover whether their argument actually holds water. Would I find that all beverages are created equal, or are some smarter than others?
We’ve all heard about the importance of drinking water. Five glasses a day, eight glasses, sixteen—sources vary greatly as to what the optimal daily intake is. And while I drink water religiously, I personally stopped keeping track of the suggestions when the population of Nalgene bottles in California finally outnumbered the number of struggling actors.
But despite all expert recommendations, our societal thirst remains unquenched, with upwards of 70% of Americans falling into the category of chronic dehydration. It seems the challenge is before us—drink more water, America.
And the good people at smartwater are doing just that—inspiring America to take their Two Week Challenge to better hydration. The theory—switch to smartwater for two weeks and you’ll feel better, have more energy, and be just a little bit healthier for every day you stick to the challenge. This was a challenge I had to accept (a little bit for curiosity’s sake, a little more for the coupons offered when you sign up for the challenge at www.smartwaterchallenge.com).
Smartwater, a vapor-distilled, electrolyte enhanced bottled water is brought to you by Glacéau. You might recognize them as the same gifted minds that had the brilliance to put vitamins in water and the wisdom to simply call it vitaminwater. At the very least, you have to admit they have a straightforward approach that is hard to come by in today’s beverage market. And more so than that, they make a great bottle of water.
Having been an avid vitaminwater drinker for years, I’ve always been aware of smartwater, but I hadn’t really tried it until my sister put a large bottle on the table for Thanksgiving dinner. When I questioned her, she cited the fact that Jennifer Aniston, a bastion of health in Hollywood, is never without a bottle of smartwater. My sister's philosophy is that anything good enough for Jenifer Aniston’s body is good enough for her. Of course actually doing yoga, eating right, working out—that's not really an option.
But even as a fan of vitaminwater, I had my skepticism. I legitimately drink roughly 64 ounces of water a day. Would I really feel different just because I was drinking smartwater? I mean, water is just water, isn’t it? But two weeks after making the switch and carefully observing differences in my performance at critical junctures, I came to the following scientific conclusion: smartwater rocks!
I love to snowboard—almost as much as I love to pretend that I still fit into my snowboarding pants from college (damn mediums—mocking me with their smug form-fitting waist). So, right off the bat, I started my Two Week Challenge by putting smartwater to the ultimate test. Could smartwater keep a panting 30-year-old man from dying of dehydration while trying to relive his youth? And of course, it passed with flying colors. I pounded a bottle beforehand, and I did better than survive—I never cramped up, and I shredded (attempted to shred) virtually all day without getting tired. It was probably my best showing on the mountain in a few years.
Unlike regular water that takes some time to properly absorb, smartwater is enhanced with electrolytes for quicker hydration. Electrolytes are salts that aid the body in maintaining proper fluid levels, as well as aiding in virtually all tissue function and muscle movement via the transmission of impulses across nerves. Say what? Electrolytes let the water you’re drinking hit the right places at the right times.
Now, of course, you’re thinking that Gatorade has a ton of electrolytes too—why wouldn’t I just drink that? Gatorade and other sports drinks are good for immediate hydration, but they also have a lot of sugar. Aside from the obvious argument that we could all stand to cut a few calories a day (excessive calorie intake is the reason I can’t fit in my snowboard pants to begin with), your body actually burns through a ton of vitamins and minerals in order to metabolize sugar. So in a sense, you’re trading off hydration for malnutrition.
Challenge 1: Physical Activity
Results: Great for short and long-term performance. Better than water at hydration, and fewer unnecessary calories than sports drinks.
I can’t believe I ate the worm
Strictly in the interest of science, I was able to put smartwater’s performance to the test when it comes to our favorite morning bedfellow—the hangover. But between the NFL playoffs, and some eggnog soaked holidays, my simple experiment blossomed into a study worthy of a government grant. Now, I’m typically on point when it comes to hangover prevention, (us really good scientists always are), but this just simplified the whole process. I was up and kickin' bright and early each day, regardless of the amount of football viewed the previous day.
In the past, I would have suggested drinking any glass of water before bed. After all, your body naturally loses almost a half-liter through your skin and breath during the night anyway. On top of that, alcohol is a major diuretic, which means it pulls large amounts of water out of your body and sends it to your bladder to be excreted. Between dehydration and a build-up of the alcohol by-product, lactic acid, a hangover can literally feel the same as having just run a marathon. This is where smartwater has the advantage over regular water. Electrolytes actually pull water back into the body to dilute toxins and keep necessary parts like your brain and muscles from feeling like they were hit with a sledgehammer.
Again, if electrolytes are the answer, we should look at Gatorade. The problem—drinking a sugary beverage is an instant recipe for a hangover. In order to metabolize sugar, your body utilizes large amounts of B Vitamins. The problem is that B Vitamins also help to burn the alcohol. Come morning it’s this B Vitamin deficiency that combines with dehydration to make a nasty little hangover even nastier. Think about it—that’s why you get so much more hungover when you’re drinking a sugary Tequila Sunrise than a Vodka Tonic. If anything, you need to supplement your vitamin levels after a night on the town, not deplete them further.
Basically, if there was an emergency hangover kit, you would break open the glass (possibly with your head—depending on the night’s consumption), and you would find a bottle of smartwater and a multivitamin. Forget the Two Week Challenge—you’re two minute challenge would be to drink as much smartwater as you can before passing out on the couch with all of your clothes on.
Challenge 2: The Hangover
Results: Again, better than water at regulating hydration, and better than sports drinks, which can unwittingly add to the pain.
The choice is as clear as vapor
Purity is key when it comes to anything you’ll put in your body. In fact, all bottled waters are required to meet certain standards set forth by the FDA to limit dissolved chemicals and impurities. Typically you can find this information pretty easily on their websites. Just in the past few years, many of the major bottled spring water companies have come under scrutiny for their purity, and a number of smaller, generic water brands were actually found to come from the public water supply or worse—toxic runoff sites containing arsenic and heavy metals.
A quick comparison of smartwater to major brands of bottled spring water shows that smartwater beats spring water across the board on levels of dissolved minerals and toxins. With virtually nothing detected, not even traces of harmful chemicals, just about the only thing you’ll find in smartwater are the electrolytes, which are intentionally added.
But you don’t need an FDA report to tell you about it’s purity, you can actually taste it. Smartwater tastes like water—that’s it. And that’s a beautiful thing.
Smartwater is able to achieve this by not only filtering their water, but vapor distilling it to separate the water from any and all dissolved compounds before condensing the vapor back into a liquid form.
And if you’re going for purity, tap water isn’t even an option—even if it’s filtered. I filter my tap water twice—once on the actual faucet, and again through a Brita—and that’s just to make ice cubes. My particular neighborhood is a nice, clean suburban town, with a little stream that runs through to our local reservoir. The problem is that two former chemical plants spent 25 years leaking chemicals right into that little stream and the surrounding groundwater. After the plants closed down, the EPA mandated that the land sit and flush into the stream before both sites were redeveloped to house luxury condo complexes. Swanky! Nothing says upward mobility like a Beamer in the garage and toxic waste in your pipes. In ten years, nobody will even remember that the land is poisoned, and yet it filters right into the water source that supplies hundreds of thousands of people.
And as if you needed another reason not to drink tap—those hard plastic Nalgene bottles contain bisphenol-A, a potentially hormone altering chemical that you’ll also find in the hard plastic of water coolers.
Challenge 3: Does It Glow?
Results: The cleanest water I’ve come across—bottle or tap.
It’s enough to drive you to drink.
With so many products not living up to the standards they preach, it’s great to see a solid company putting out a solid product. Even as an avid water drinker, I noticed a positive benefit for each of the benchmarks that I established. Imagine the benefits you could see if you’re not already drinking your 8 glasses a day. So, just in case you needed some more reasons to take the Two Week Challenge, here are just a few of the general benefits to staying responsibly hydrated.
The human brain is composed of 70% water, with the exception of mine, which is mostly made up of old Simpsons episodes and Swimsuit Editions. If you don’t drink, you can’t think. Proper water intake has been shown to increase focus and mental acuity, as well as reduce headaches and dizziness.
Hungry? Have some water. In almost 40% of Americans the thirst mechanism is so weak that we mistake it for the early stages of hunger. At the first grumblings of your stomach, try knocking back a bottle of water and see how quickly your hunger dissipates. I understand water may not be as immediately satisfying as physically chewing something—unless you’re from New Jersey, where our water is so thick, you have to eat it with a fork and knife—but it’s what your body is actually asking for. Maybe it’s time to listen.
Increased water intake has been linked to a number of incredible health benefits. Numerous studies cite water for helping to lower the risk factors for anything from allergies to several types of cancer. Increased consumption can prevent UTIs and other digestive tract issues. Water also helps to flush metabolized fat and the toxins it releases during weight loss, allowing you to lose weight faster and safer.
So drink up, drink often, and go on www.smartwaterchallenge.com to sign up for the challenge and receive a coupon towards your next purchase of smartwater. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the benefits.