Most of us have water on tap and milk chilling in the fridge, but did you know these budget-friendly beverages (and others) can do more than just 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.
Fitness in a Glass
To lose weight: green tea or 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). Grapefruit juice has also been shown to have weight-loss benefits, though eating half a grapefruit with each meal showed greater benefits than drinking juice alone.
(MORE: 13 Reasons Tea Is Good for You)
To recover: water, chocolate milk or sports drinks. Most important after a workout: drink water to replace water or sweat losses. Chocolate milk can also help the body recover after exercise because of its carb-to-protein ratio (four to one). You can also try making your own sports drink — with carbs, sodium, potassium and sometimes a hint of protein — for a cheaper, more natural (less fluorescent) alternative to the conventional brands.
For a run: water, tart cherry juice or coconut water. Water should be your first go-to, but longer runs (90 minutes or more) may require a sports drink like Gatorade to replace lost sodium and other electrolytes. Drinking tart cherry juice for a week before a strenuous run can minimize post-run muscle pain, too. But it can also improve muscle recovery when it’s consumed immediately after a workout. Coconut water has been found to offer the same hydration and exercise endurance support as the leading sports drink, but with fewer calories.
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 fatigued.
Sick as a Dog
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 your want-to-do list, stick to clear liquids to get your body some much-needed hydration. Ginger ale may also do the trick since ginger root can help treat nausea. (Pro tip: Flat soda, without all the carbonation, will be easier on the stomach.)
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). 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 when loading up on dairy. A hot toddy — whiskey, lemon, and honey — may also help alleviate a cold (and there’s liquor in it, 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 salivate. Drink plenty of fluids in general, because they help thin the mucus lodged in the throat and make it easier to cough up.
For a sore throat: turmeric tea. Drinking most fluids will help keep the throat moist. To soothe 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 throat.
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 sores.
For sleepiness: coffee, water or 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 around, with a ton of vitamins and minerals that boost energy.
(MORE: Coffee: Drink More, Live Longer?)
To fall asleep: tart cherry juice, warm milk or chamomile. Brandy used to be the go-to sedative in the medical community during the 19th century. 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 quality. Chamomile can also help ease you into a deep sleep.
For digestion: water or herbal tea. Drinking water while eating (and after eating) helps digest food, as does herbal tea (especially mint or peppermint). Add a sprinkle of cinnamon for an extra digestion aid.
For spicy food: milk or 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). The slightly acidic milk helps neutralize ingredients like capsaicin, which are basic.
For a hangover; water, orange juice or 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 normal.
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 away.
For gas and bloating: water with baking soda . If you’re 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 too. 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 section below!
Greatist is the fastest-growing fitness, health and happiness start-up. Check out more tips, expert opinion and fun times at Greatist.com.