Most popular drinks today are loaded with sugar. At the same time, most diet drinks have artificial sweeteners, which may be bad for gut health and other issues. But what about sparkling water brands like AHA? Are they actually good for you?
AHA is a sugar-free, zero-calorie sparkling water that is generally considered healthy. Unlike some other sparkling water drinks, AHA does not have artificial sweeteners, sugar, stevia, or any sweetener at all. It is also free of added sodium and artificial colors.
Below, I’ll discuss whether AHA is good for hydration, weight loss, dental health, and more. We’ll look closer at the “natural flavors” in AHA, and I’ll compare this drink side-by-side with diet soda and LaCroix to see how it really stacks up.
Is AHA Sparkling Water Good for You?
Here are the 13 questions we’re going to cover on AHA nutrition. Click to skip ahead to any of them—or just scroll down to read it all:
- What Ingredients Are in AHA Sparkling Water?
- Is AHA Good for Hydration?
- Is AHA Good for Weight Loss?
- Is AHA Healthier Than Diet Soda?
- What Is in the “Natural Flavor” in AHA?
- Does AHA Have Artificial Sweeteners?
- Does AHA Have Sugar or Carbs?
- Is AHA Bad for Your Teeth?
- Does AHA Have Sodium?
- Does AHA Have Caffeine?
- Is It Ok to Drink AHA Every Day?
- Is AHA Healthier Than La Croix?
- Is AHA Vegan?
1. What Ingredients Are in AHA Sparkling Water?
Let’s start by looking at what AHA actually has in it. The ingredients are a little different between the caffeinated and non-caffeinated options:
|AHA Sparkling Water||Carbonated Water, Natural Flavors.|
|AHA Caffeinated||Carbonated Water, Natural Flavors, Caffeine, Electrolyte Sources (Calcium And Magnesium Chlorides, Potassium Bicarbonate).|
Here’s what I notice about these ingredients:
- AHA has very minimal ingredients. Many beverages have long lists of chemical-sounding ingredients. Not AHA. Their non-caffeinated drinks just have 2 ingredients, and their caffeinated drinks only have a couple more.
- AHA is free of sugar. This means AHA doesn’t have all the empty calories found in most sweetened drinks. Below, we’ll look more closely at AHA for weight loss.
- AHA is free of artificial sweeteners. Most artificial sweeteners (and even natural sweeteners like stevia) have been associated with possible health risks. But with AHA, you don’t have to worry about any of those.
- AHA has no artificial colors. Many drinks on the market today have artificial colors. These dyes are controversial for safety, causing hyperactivity in some children and possibly other issues, too. It’s great that AHA doesn’t have any.
- AHA has “Natural Flavors.” But what does that mean, exactly? We’ll discuss the details below, but it’s generally not considered to be an unhealthy ingredient.
- AHA has caffeinated and non-caffeinated drinks. This is great because you can choose the option best for you. However, AHA Caffeinated drinks only have a small caffeine dose (30mg per can), which is less than energy drinks. More detail below.
- AHA Caffeinated drinks have added electrolytes. If you’re exercising or sweating hard, you may want a drink that helps replenish the electrolytes you’re losing in sweat. AHA Caffeinated drinks don’t have sodium—the main electrolyte in Gatorade—but they do have calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Overall, AHA’s ingredients are pretty clean. They avoid all sugars, artificial sweeteners, sodium, and most other processed ingredients. There’s nothing really scary looking in AHA drinks.
2. Is AHA Good for Hydration?
AHA is fine for hydration, as it is mostly water. The only other ingredients it has are carbonation and natural flavors. Even AHA Caffeinated drinks only add caffeine and electrolytes to that.
However, AHA may not be optimal if you’re acutely dehydrated or at risk of dehydration. In that case, you should probably drink an oral rehydration solution (ORS) like Pedialyte or a homemade ORS—or at least a sports drinks like Gatorade (or Gatorade Zero).
If you’re seriously trying to re-hydrate yourself, you’ll need added electrolytes. AHA Caffeinated drinks do have some added electrolytes, but they don’t have sodium or sugar, which are typically recommended for serious rehydration.
Another thing to note: Just because AHA can help you stay hydrated, that doesn’t mean you should replace all your water with AHA. Read the sections below on natural flavors and whether AHA is bad for your teeth before considering anything like that.
But yes, AHA is hydrating. It’s mostly water. AHA and other sparkling waters can count as “water intake” for most practical purposes.
3. Is AHA Good for Weight Loss?
One of the reasons people choose zero-calorie drinks like AHA is to help with weight management. But this issue can sometimes get complicated.
For example, evidence shows that artificial sweeteners are surprisingly ineffective for weight loss. Some evidence even suggests they can even cause weight gain. This means some “diets drinks” may not actually be great for weight loss.
But is there any reason why AHA wouldn’t be ideal for weight loss?
AHA sparkling water is a great choice for weight loss. For every 12 ounces of sugary beverages that you replace with AHA, you will consume about 150 fewer calories. That change alone could cause weight loss over time, even without any other diet or lifestyle changes.
Replacing high-calorie drinks with AHA is essentially the same as replacing them with water. Again, the only other added ingredients in AHA are “natural flavor” and carbonation, which don’t have calories or any significant known effect on weight loss.
AHA Caffeinated drinks are also fine for weight-loss. The added caffeine and electrolytes should not affect the suitability of the drink for weight loss.
But remember: The key to weight loss is your overall calorie balance. If you switch to AHA but then you eat a lot more food, you could cancel out the impact and stay stuck in a weight-loss plateau.
4. Is AHA Healthier Than Diet Soda?
AHA is generally healthier than diet soda. Diet sodas usually have artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, and acesulfame K, several of which have been linked to possible increases in cancer risk, heart disease risk, obesity, and more.
I already covered some of the possible issues with artificial sweeteners above. But it’s worth digging into the details of diet soda nutrition a little bit more here.
There are some “diet sodas” that use natural zero-calorie sweeteners, like stevia. Stevia seems to have fewer problems, based on the research we have so far. But there still may be some downside, as I explained in my Zevia review.
Of course, maybe some of the controversy is overblown. These diet soda ingredients may be safe in moderation. But AHA avoids all those uncertainties by just avoiding those sketchy ingredients entirely.
AHA is just carbonated water and natural flavor. It’s simple, so it is pretty easy to trust. But some people are still unsure about that “natural flavor”… So let’s cover that next.
5. What Is in the “Natural Flavors” in AHA?
AHA Sparkling Water only has two ingredients: Carbonated water and natural flavors. But what are “natural flavors,” really? It’s not fruit juice, as that would add natural sugar and calories. So, what is it?
The precise contents of AHA’s “natural flavor” is a bit of a mystery. When I checked their website, I couldn’t even find an FAQ page addressing the question. That said, we can make some educated guesses about it.
If you look at other sparkling water brands’ statements about their natural flavors, they usually say it’s mostly oils, extracts, or “essences” of fruits. LaCroix, Bubly, and Waterloo have all said similar things. So, it’d make sense for this to be true of AHA, as well.
But some consumers have concerns about chemicals that can be found in “natural flavors,” such as propylene glycol.
Propylene glycol is a food additive sometimes used as a solvent in “natural flavors.” Legally, it doesn’t need to be listed as an ingredient. But some people are freaked out by the fact that it’s also in antifreeze and paint.
Some flavored water companies have actually faced class-action lawsuits based on the misleading use of the word “natural” for a product that has propylene glycol. (Propylene glycol is made from fossil fuels.)
All the chemicals allowed in “natural flavors” are “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) by the FDA. So, everything should be fine, safety-wise. (For example, propylene glycol seems to be quite harmless.)
That said, we don’t know exactly what is in AHA’s natural flavors, as the company has not made any public statement about it (at least not that I could find with a Google search and 10 minutes on the brand’s website).
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6. Does AHA Have Artificial Sweeteners?
AHA does not have aspartame, sucralose, or any other artificial sweeteners. AHA doesn’t have sugar or stevia, either. The flavors in AHA come only from “Natural Flavors.”
Here are a few of the concerns with artificial sweeteners:
- Studies show consumption of diet drinks with artificial sweeteners was linked to three times higher risk of stroke and dementia.
- There’s evidence that rodents develop cancer when exposed to aspartame over their lifespan.
- Research has linked aspartame to weight gain and increased appetite.
- Sucralose is a migraine trigger for some people. (source, source)
- Sucralose and other artificial sweeteners may increase insulin resistance via multiple mechanisms.
- A breakdown product of acesulfame K (acetoacetamide) may damage the thyroid. (source)
- And many more, which you can read about here.
Overall, the long-term health impacts of artificial sweeteners are not fully known. But it’s awesome when a product like AHA can help us just avoid all the uncertainty by not using them.
Side note: Erythritol, monk fruit, and stevia seem to be healthier zero-calorie sweeteners. But there are still uncertainties about how the body reacts to them in the longer term.
7. Does AHA Have Sugar or Carbs?
AHA does not have any sugar or carbs. The nutrition facts label for AHA shows 0g of total carbohydrates and 0g of total sugars. This makes AHA suitable for ketogenic and other low-carb diets.
Instead of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or artificial sweeteners, AHA simply has subtle “natural flavors,” which do not add any calories or carbs. This means AHA is generally okay for even the strictest low-carb dieters.
- Can Diabetics Drink AHA? AHA is generally suitable for diabetics, as it does not have any carbs or sugars. It also avoids potential problems with diet sodas that may worsen carb sensitivity by using zero-calorie sweeteners.
- Does AHA Actually Have 0 Calories? AHA has 0 calories per 12 fl oz serving. If you looked at a much larger serving, it’s possible the natural flavors would contribute a very small amount of calories. But AHA is basically calorie-free.
- Does AHA Break a Fast? AHA does not break a fast, as it has no calories. In fact, many people drink sparkling water during a fast because it gives a sensation in your mouth and throat that may help to satisfy hunger without calories.
8. Is AHA Bad for Your Teeth?
Research suggests unsweetened sparkling water like AHA is only “minimally erosive” to tooth enamel. In comparison, many other flavored drinks are strongly erosive. Although AHA does have “carbonic acid” from its carbonation, it is not very bad for your teeth.
Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. So, even though AHA sparkling water is acidic, it should not powerful enough to damage tooth enamel significantly.
However, many dentists acknowledge that regularly drinking sparkling water could still lead to some tooth erosion. Therefore, if you want to be extra careful, here are some tips for minimizing tooth damage from AHA:
- Don’t drink AHA or other carbonated beverages all day—instead, limit them to meal times, or just once or twice per day.
- Don’t swish your AHA around your mouth or hold it in your mouth for a long time.
- Consider drinking your sparkling water through a straw.
- Rinse out your mouth with water after drinking AHA or other carbonated drinks.
9. Does AHA Have Sodium?
AHA does not have sodium. The nutrition facts label shows 0mg of sodium, and there is no added salt or “sodium” ingredients. This means AHA may be a good choice for people on low-sodium diets who like sparkling water.
Some flavored water products like Propel come with added electrolytes that include sodium. If you’re drinking a lot, that added sodium can add up. But AHA does not have added sodium. So, no worries!
- Does AHA Have Potassium? AHA’s Caffeinated drinks do include added potassium (from potassium bicarbonate). But unfortunately, the nutrition facts label does not specify how much potassium is included in each serving.
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10. Does AHA Have Caffeine?
Normal AHA Sparkling Water is caffeine free, but AHA Caffeinated has 30 mg of caffeine per can (12 fl oz). That’s just slightly less caffeine than a can of Coca-Cola or Bubly Bounce.
Here is a comparison table with more reference points for comparison:
|Bang Energy Drink (16 oz)||300 mg|
|5-Hour Energy Regular Strength (1.9 oz)||200 mg|
|Folger’s Classic Roast Coffee (12 oz)||120-160 mg|
|Red-Bull (8.4 oz)||80 mg|
|V8 Energy (8 oz)||80 mg|
|Hint Energy (16 oz)||60 mg|
|Lipton Black Tea (1 bag, brewed)||55 mg|
|Bubly Bounce (12 oz)||35 mg|
|Coca-Cola (12 oz)||34 mg|
|AHA Caffeinated (12 oz)||30 mg|
|Barq’s Root Beer (12 oz)||22 mg|
As you can see, AHA Caffeinated has only has ~10% of the caffeine of Bang Energy Drink, per can. Therefore, if you want a lot of caffeine per can, you may want to choose a proper energy drink, rather than AHA Caffeinated.
However, if you’d like a more gradual or subtle caffeine kick, AHA Caffeinated may be perfect for you.
- Does AHA Give You Energy? AHA is not an energy drink, and normal AHA does not give you caffeine or calories. However, AHA Caffeinated should provide a little energy from its 30mg of caffeine per can.
11. Is It Ok to Drink AHA Every Day?
There is no problem with drinking AHA every day. AHA doesn’t have any unhealthy ingredients or anything that would become toxic when consumed daily. It’s just carbonated water and natural flavor.
Personally, I have had sparkling water almost every day for years. It has had no negative effect that I’ve perceived, and I’m in great overall health.
If you’re drinking AHA Caffeinated, you should just be aware of your total caffeine intake and how that may affect your sleep, mood, and more.
12. Is AHA Healthier Than LaCroix?
AHA and LaCroix are basically the same, nutritionally. They both contain only carbonated water and natural flavors. They are both free of calories, sugar, carbs, artificial sweeteners, and artificial colors. They are both healthy drinks.
Personally, I prefer the taste of AHA, especially when it comes to certain flavors. But really, the taste is just personal preference.
Nutritionally, AHA and LaCroix are both great. The same goes for Bubly, Waterloo, and other seltzer waters that just have carbonation and natural flavors.
13. Is AHA Vegan?
AHA is vegan-friendly. Neither of the AHA product lines contain milk, eggs, honey, or any other animal by-products.
In fact, AHA may be even “more vegan” than some competing products, as many competing drinks are sweetened—often with cane sugar that was filtered with animal bone char. With AHA, there’s really no contentious ingredients at all.
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