The moment sparkling water touches yours lips, instead of the soda you're used to drinking, it'll feel like you're entering into a whole new phase of life and becoming a new, sparkling water version of your former self. OK, maybe it won't be quite that dramatic. But there are some ways your body might change, should you switch from soda to sparkling water.
"One of the main differences between soda and sparkling water is the high sugar content or artificial sweeteners in soda," Galit Sacajiu, M.D., MPH, a doctor with Elitra Health in NYC, tells Bustle. "For heavy soda drinkers, or for those who need a more exciting drink than plain water, sparkling water is a great substitute for sodas. It is just as hydrating as water, without the harmful health effects of soda."
You might want to ditch sugary sodas due to the impact sugar can have on your health. But don't be surprised if you feel a bit sluggish without it — at least at first. "If you are someone who sips soda all day long, your blood sugar will drop when you suddenly cut out that source of calories," Michelle Pillepich, MPH, RD, a registered dietitian in private practice, tells Bustle. You might feel tired or sluggish without that daily soda, especially if you've been using it as an afternoon pick-me-up.
You can easily adjust, though, by making sure you have three balanced meals a day with a few snacks in between, Pillepich says, so that you're eating about every three hours. "Keeping energy intake consistent from balanced food sources will keep blood sugar stable, which will enhance both your energy and mood (nobody likes to be hangry!)," she says.
Energy levels can also dip due to the lack of caffeine, which is often found in soda but not in sparkling water. "If you have been reliant on soda for a caffeine boost you may experience withdrawal headaches or some lethargy while you are adjusting, similar to the changes felt by those who give up coffee," Pillepich says.
It might leave you pining away for a soda and the quick burst of energy it provides, but sticking with sparkling water will ease these symptoms. "Staying hydrated can help keep you awake as well as eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to avoid any nutrient deficiencies that would only compound the problem," Pillepich says.
By switching to sparkling water, you might even notice that you eventually crave less sugar in general. "A typical 12-ounce can of sugar-sweetened soda contains more added sugar than most of us should consume in one day," Lori Chong, RD, a registered dietitian from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells Bustle. "That sugar ... from the soda will give you a rush of energy (augmented by the caffeine) but will leave you feeling sluggish shortly after, which typically means you crave more of the same."
It can lead to a vicious cycle where you feel like you need soda in order to keep going, not feel hangry, and so on. But soon the body will adjust — especially if you replace all that sugar with nutritious foods — and the cravings will go away.
Other changes can take time, and might not be as readily noticeable. "You won’t feel these effects but the phosphoric acid in most dark colas is hard on the kidneys and will pull calcium from your bones to balance the acidic load," Chong says. Consuming less sugar can also lower inflammation in your body, Lisa Richards, a certified nutritionist, tells Bustle, which can mean less physical pain, better gut health, and better immunity — all things that start to crumble if you have tons of inflammation.
All of that said, the best beverage is always going to be plain water, at least most of the time, Chong says. But sparkling water is a good alternative for those who crave something bubbly, while also looking to make the switch from sugary sodas to something that's a little easier on the body.
Galit Sacajiu, M.D., MPH, doctor with Elitra Health
Michelle Pillepich, MPH, RD, registered dietician
Lori Chong, RD, registered dietitian from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
Lisa Richards, certified nutritionist