It's a common scenario: you're on a road trip or day trip and stop at the gas station to fill up the car. Everyone wants a snack or drink from inside the convenience store. It's the middle of the day so no one goes for coffee. Some people grab a soda, some juice, but you're on the keto diet...you can't have those sugar-filled drinks. Luckily, you know there are some keto drinks that are zero calorie sweet beverage alternatives found at most convenience stores.
But how do they taste so good if they don't use sugar or fruit juice? If they are sweet then they contain some form of zero calorie sweetener. Some forms of zero calorie sweeteners are ok, some forms are not. But what about the rest of the ingredients? Sometimes there's as many as 10 ingredients listed, and they definitely aren't a natural sounding substance.
Just because the drinks are zero or low calorie, doesn't mean they're a good alternative for the keto diet. When other additives are used, you should know what is the best low carb fruit beverage alternative for keto.
We're going to help you out. We're picking out the weird ingredients of the top 3 sweet, low-carb "fruit-flavored" beverage alternatives at the convenience store. And we'll tell you which of these low calorie drinks we recommend!
Drink This, Not That on the Keto Diet: Low-Calorie "Fruit" Beverages
SoBe Water (Zero Calorie flavors) ... not SoBe Lifewater
SoBe Water is PepsiCo's healthy drink alternative to soda.
Depending on the flavor, the beverage contains a lot of acids to add tanginess, like citric acid and fumaric acid. SoBe Waters don't have tons of bad preservatives, but they do have one that is calcium lactate common in many foods.
SoBe Water contains only stevia as the zero calorie sweetener, making it a much healthier soda alternative. It may not have as good of flavor as those using erythritol (stevia has been associated with a bitter aftertaste), but some people will notice an upset stomach with large amounts of erythritol.
Some of the flavors of SoBe Water even have good amounts of added vitamins.
SoBe Water is an okay option with not many preservatives and natural sweeteners. Using stevia as the only sweetener is a healthy alternative to artificial sweeteners and is better for those with sensitive stomachs.
Note that SoBe LifeWater is completely different than SoBe Water. It has some of the worst added artificial preservatives and uses artificial sweeteners instead of stevia. Don't pick this up accidentally instead of the SoBe Water.
VitaminWater, a Coca-Cola brand drink, was super popular when it came out because of the amount of vitamins in the drink. That makes it automatically healthy, right?! Wrong. Coca-cola marketed this as a healthy soda alternative beverage very well.
VitaminWater Zero has similar amounts of added vitamins than SoBe Water, but it does not make up for the addition of unhealthy preservatives and acids.
In addition to the calcium phosphate and potassium phosphate used as preservatives and acidifying agents (known to cause vascular damage and should not be consumed in large quantities), they also use phosphoric acid to add tanginess. Phosphoric acid has been shown to lower bone calcium levels leading to osteoporosis.
Don't be fooled by the "electrolytes added" statement on the label. The amount of potassium added is so minimal they don't even state the amount. The magnesium is 10% of your RDI, but you should be taking a high quality magnesium supplement anyways.
To their benefit, they used erythritol and stevia as the low calorie sweeteners. We've already discussed stevia, but erythritol is a sugar alcohol that does not raise insulin or glucose levels. In addition, the amount of erythritol per bottle is low.
The sweeteners used in VitaminWater Zero make it an okay option for a sweet beverage for the keto diet. If SoBe Water and VitaminWater Zero are your only low-calorie "fruit" beverages at the convenience store, go with SoBe Water. The addition of phosphoric acid to VitaminWater Zero is a no-no for us.
BAI is a comparatively new low-calorie beverage to the market and it touts itself as super-healthy. Is it deserving of the label? Let's check it out...
As opposed to SoBe Water and VitaminWater Zero which contain zero calories per bottle, BAI has 2 net carbs in the whole bottle. OK, so kind of a downer, but not a big deal if you realize that it's not zero net carbs beforehand. There is also 35 mg caffeine per serving, so if you have to watch your caffeine in-take you should be aware it is equivalent to a cup of green tea.
They do add 100 mg polyphenols and antioxidants from coffeefruit extract and white tea extract. These are healthy compounds that are known to fight free radicals. The amount per bottle is 1/10 the amount in a cup of coffee, so similar to the vitamins in VitaminWater, they're not a gamechanger.
Malic acid, an acid found naturally in fruit, is used to add tanginess. Sodium citrate is used for ?
BAI contains NO artificial preservatives. Woohoo, finally no bad preservatives! It does use sodium citrate to add tanginess, and it can also be used as a preservative. For added sweetness BAI uses erythritol and stevia as its low-calorie sweetener. BAI uses about twice the amount of erythritol as VitaminWater Zero per bottle.
BAI doesn't have much for added vitamins. But I have to be honest, if you are taking a multi-vitamin (like you should be on keto) the amount of vitamins in SoBE and VitaminWater Zero are negligible anyways.
BAI and SoBe Water come in neck and neck. They both use natural preservatives and added acids for tanginess. BAI has added antioxidants and uses good zero calorie sweetener alternatives, but it is not carb free!
What it really comes down to with these keto drink alternatives are the health benefits you're after, and the compounds your individual body shouldn't have. They are all low-carb, low-calorie.
But if you really want to know our opinion, drink the SoBe Water for the best keto diet drink alternative...
If you can't have any carbs, don't drink BAI... If you suffer from upset stomach from sugar alcohols, drink SoBe Water... If you suffer from osteoporosis or low calcium, don't drink VitaminWater Zero.
In the end, none of these drinks should be associated with improving your health. They are really there as a low or zero calorie beverage alternative on the keto diet with a fruit flavor. They really shouldn't be used as an everyday drink, just a sweet treat once in a while.