On the laundry list of morning rituals you should start your day with, hydrating should be towards the very top. Not only are most of us—up to a whopping 75 percent of Americans—in a constant state of dehydration, but our bodies especially need hydration following a night of sleep.
“Overnight water loss happens through urination, but also through the skin and from breathing, which is something known as ‘insensible water loss,’” explains Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., founder of Ancient Nutrition and member of The Vitamin Shoppe Wellness Council. “In fact, after a full day, about 300 to 400 milliliters [roughly a third of a liter] are lost from breathing—and a lot of that happens during sleep.”
It makes sense, since you don’t drink water while you’re sound asleep, that your body would require you to hydrate first thing in the morning. The thing is, not just any beverage will do. In fact, some beverages out there actually dehydrate you.
And, hydration status isn’t even the only thing affected by the drinks we sip. “Certain beverages may set the tone for cravings, jitters, and increases in hunger,” warns Roger E. Adams, Ph.D., doctor of nutrition and owner of eatrightfitness. “Liquids tend to move throughout digestive systems quicker, so even though you may have had 400 calories in your beverage, it will clear your stomach quicker than an equal amount of solid, more nutrient-dense foods.”
While starting your day with a beverage is a smart idea, it’s important to be choosy about what you sip on first thing in the morning. Here, nutrition pros break down your best and worst options.
Best Drinks to Start Your Day With
It’s probably no surprise to anyone that water, which is hydration in its purest form, tops this list. By consuming water early in the morning, you are replacing what was lost overnight and getting a head start on meeting hydration demands for your upcoming day, according to Adams. “If plain water doesn’t appeal, then add twists of citrus or mint,” he suggests.
Not only does green tea provide you with a nice gentle boost of energy, thanks to the fact that it contains some caffeine (typically 30 to 50 milligrams per eight ounces), but it’s also rich in antioxidants that support brain and heart health, says dietitian Lauren Manaker, M.S., R.D.N. with Nutrition Now Counseling. “Making a glass of tea with a small amount of honey for sweetness is all you need to start your day on the right foot,” she says.
Water with apple cider vinegar and honey
While it’s not recommended that you drink apple cider vinegar straight due to the fact that its acidic nature can cause erosion of the teeth and stomach upset, mixing it with water is a great way to enjoy its many benefits. The Vitamin Shoppe nutritionist Rebekah Blakely, R.D.N., recommends adding one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and one tablespoon of raw honey (which can make the taste more tolerable and offers some additional health benefits) to your morning glass of water.
Lemon water with ginger
To add some additional health benefits to a morning glass of water, Blakely recommends squeezing in some fresh lemon juice along with some fresh or powdered ginger. “The lemon has an alkalizing effect and provides some vitamin C, while the ginger has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits,” she says. Try it with warm water and sip it like tea.
A nutrient-packed smoothie
If you love the sweetness of fruit juice, Axe recommends kicking off your morning with a smoothie that includes hydrating fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, pineapple, or peaches, plus a scoop of protein powder (his go-to is Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein) and a scoop of collagen (his favorite is Ancient Nutrition Multi Collagen Protein Joint + Mobility. “You can even mix in a little coconut water for additional hydrating benefits,” he adds.
Worst Drinks to Start Your Day with
Hate to break this one to you, folks. Coffee—at least when it’s highly caffeinated—is a natural diuretic, which means that it causes you to urinate more frequently and essentially lose water. Less than ideal after going all night without H2O! Another reason why coffee isn’t the best beverage to sip on first thing? Most people drink their coffee with a slew of added sugars and creams that can make them feel jittery, warns Manaker. These add-ins don’t offer any nutrition and may also contribute to an energy crash later on.
Don’t worry, no one’s suggesting you skip your cuppa completely. Many experts recommend simply drinking your coffee mid- to late-morning, when the cortisol levels that spiked to get you up and at ‘em start to wane. “To jazz up your coffee, you can include a sugar alternative like allulose that won’t spike blood sugars or contribute to caloric intake,” says Manaker. “A sprinkle of cinnamon or even cayenne pepper can give your coffee an interesting taste with no added calories, too.”
Boozy drinks might be commonplace at weekend brunch, but it’s best to save the drinking for a little later in the day. “Consuming any kind of alcoholic beverage removes water from your tissues, which means you need to drink even more water to remain hydrated,” says Axe. “Plus, any alcoholic beverage has very little to no nutritional value.” If you’re kicking off your day with brunch, consider skipping the Bloody, okay?
High-Caffeine energy drinks
While energy drinks are a go-to for many gym-goers and can certainly supercharge your workouts, they probably aren’t an ideal first-thing-in-the-morning beverage. Many contain 200 to 300 milligrams of caffeine, which is equivalent to two or three cups of coffee, Blakely points out. (Remember, loads of caffeine in the early A.M. when cortisol levels are high don’t do you many favors.) “If you’re really looking for an energy boost first thing, something like Amino Energy with Electrolytes, which has 100 milligrams caffeine and added electrolytes for hydration support, could be a good option,” she notes.
While fruit juice might sound like a healthy morning beverage, it’s filled with sugar and is missing the most nutritious part of the fruit itself: the skin, which contains tons of fiber that can aid your digestive system, notes Axe.