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Is It Crazy to Drink Seltzer Water While Exercising?

It certainly won’t cause your workout to fizz-le out. Quite the contrary actually.

I first fell in love with seltzer water four years ago while working for a startup stocked with an unlimited supply of the stuff. My love for it remains so strong today that it’s fair to say that as much seltzer courses through my veins as other necessary fluids (like, you know, blood). In other words, it’s pretty much all I drink. Except for during one very specific activity — when I workout. I just can’t stomach the idea of cracking open a cold one in the middle of a strenuous workout. 

Yet, plenty of fizzy fitness freaks are doing just that. “Bubbly water is my go-to workout beverage,” former competitive CrossFit athlete and current nutrition and fitness coach Sara Callahan tells me. She claims that seltzer quenches her thirst more effectively during exercise and that the carbonation keeps her from drinking too much, too fast. “The bubbles allow for a very small sip to do the job. That way I don’t have to deal with that full stomach feeling from chugging water as I’m working out.” (She also adds for any hydro-haters out there, “I tend to recommend seltzer to people who have trouble drinking enough water as I find that it’s more fun for people to drink.”) 

Meanwhile, ultramarathon runner Dean Karnazes argues that seltzer doesn’t make people gassy, exercise does — i.e., the up-down jostling motion of running makes people burp for the same reason it makes us have to poop. Much like when you shake a bottle of seltzer, something needs to be released, which is precisely why seltzer is such a good workout beverage for him. “One primary benefit seltzer water has is its ability to help alleviate gas in the stomach and G.I. distention, which is a major issue during an ultramarathon where sometimes you’re running for 24 hours or longer and consuming lots of food,” Karnazes explains. “Seltzer water induces, well, burping. And burping during an ultra is good.”

Perhaps I had judged the idea of the workout seltzer prematurely, without trying it for myself. As such, I decided to drink only seltzer (Razz-Cranberry LaCroix if you must know) throughout several different workouts as my own personal experiment. 

To start, I did a 30-minute Yoga with Adriene video followed by seven minutes’ worth of stretches for runners, all of which felt the same as with flat water. Since it wasn’t hot out, I didn’t really need to take water breaks, and because I was at home, I could burp without embarrassment. (I did so only slightly more than on a flat water day anyway.) When I went out to run a mile for the first time in two weeks, I expected my fizzy experiment to explode in disaster, but Karnazes’ was right: Despite having a sensitive stomach and often experiencing nausea, gas and indigestion (especially when running), I didn’t feel any of that with my belly full of seltzer. 

Finally, I came home and popped open another can of LaCroix before finishing a 10-minute MadFit standing abs workout, capping off my daily exercise right around the 60-minute mark, per previous experts’ advice. As much as I expected this to be the most burp-heavy part of the workout, my system had already adjusted to all the carbonation and was in a state of equilibrium. To reward myself for a job well done, I continued my bubble binge at dinner with a couple glasses of Prosecco.

Honestly, the only real negative side effect of my experiment was the outrage I felt for not having made the switch earlier. That said, as time went by, I began experiencing a far from lukewarm hankering for tap water again. A friend summed up this feeling perfectly: “I like drinking tap water more because then when I drink a LaCroix, it feels special.” 

Thus, a compromise: I’m keeping the bubbles for my runs — when their benefits are most readily apparent — but whenever else I’m working up a sweat, things are staying flat. 

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