Most “healthy” drinks are not actually healthy when you look more closely. Whether it’s the sugar content, artificial sweeteners, or preservatives, it seems there’s always something bad in there… But is Hint Water different from the others?
Hint Water is sugar-free, zero-calorie flavored water that is quite healthy. Unlike other flavored waters, it does not have artificial sweeteners. It is also sodium-free and caffeine-free. However, the “natural flavors” in Hint Water do contain propylene glycol, a processed ingredient also used in antifreeze.
Below, I’ll analyze the ingredients of Hint Water and discuss if they’re healthy. I’ll cover whether it’s good for weight loss and hydration. I’ll also discuss the 2017 lawsuit against Hint Water for including propylene glycol but calling the drink “all natural.”
Is Hint Water Good for You?
Here are the 10 questions we’re going to address on Hint Water nutrition. Click to skip ahead to any of them:
- What Ingredients Are Really in Hint Water?
- Is Hint Water Good for Hydration?
- Is Hint Water Good for Weight Loss?
- Is Hint Water Healthier Than Diet Soda?
- Is There Propylene Glycol in Hint Water?
- Does Hint Water Have Artificial Sweeteners?
- Does Hint Water Have Sugar or Carbs?
- Does Hint Water Have Sodium?
- Is Hint Water Caffeine Free?
- Is Hint Water Vegan?
1. What Ingredients Are Really in Hint Water?
Let’s start by looking at what Hint Water is actually made of. Hint Water has a few different product lines, including Still, Sparkling, and Hint Energy.
|Hint Water Product Line||Ingredients|
|Still Hint Water||Purified water, natural flavors.|
|Sparkling Hint Water||Carbonated water, natural flavors.|
|Hint Energy||Purified water, natural flavors, natural caffeine from coffee beans.|
Here’s what I notice about these ingredients:
- Hint Water has very minimal ingredients. I consider this a good thing. Many beverages have long lists of chemical-sounding ingredients. Many of those ingredients may be harmless, but it’s nicer for things to be simple and minimal.
- Hint Water is free of sugar. This obviously makes Hint Water an interesting choice for dieters. Hint Water doesn’t have all the calories and carbs usually found in sweetened drinks. Below, we’ll look more closely at Hint Water for weight loss.
- Hint Water is free of artificial sweeteners. Most artificial sweeteners have some possible connections to health risks. With Hint Water, you don’t have to worry about those.
- Hint Water has no artificial colors. Many drinks of various kinds have artificial colors. Since such dyes are controversial for safety, I’d consider it positive that Hint Water doesn’t have any.
- Hint Water has “natural flavors” (containing propylene glycol). You won’t see “propylene glycol” in the ingredients list, but a 2017 lawsuit drew attention to the fact that propylene glycol, a processed ingredient, is used as a solvent for the natural flavors in Hint Water. However, this is likely not an issue you really need to worry about. Full details below.
- Hint Water does not have added electrolytes. This is a neutral point, really. Unless you’re exercising or sweating hard, you usually don’t need electrolytes in your beverages. But if you’re looking for that, be aware: Hint Water doesn’t have electrolytes.
Overall, Hint Water’s ingredients are quite “clean.” It is very rare today to find a packaged drink that actually avoids pretty much all sugars, artificial sweeteners, sodium, and other processed ingredients. So, nice work, Hint Water.
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2. Is Hint Water Good for Hydration?
Hint Water is a great choice for hydration. The only ingredient it has besides purified water is natural flavors to make the taste more appealing. This means Hint Water avoids all of the unhealthy ingredients added to most other drinks on the market.
However, Hint Water may not be the optimal choice if you are acutely dehydrated or at risk of dehydration. In such a situation, you may want to use an oral rehydration solution like Pedialyte, or sports drinks like Gatorade (or Gatorade Zero).
If you are trying to re-hydrate yourself aggressively, or replace a lot of lost fluids from sweating in high heat, you may want a beverage with added electrolytes. Hint Water does not have added electrolytes.
But yes, Hint Water is hydrating. It is almost all just water. Hint Water can count as “water intake” for most practical purposes.
3. Is Hint Water Good for Weight Loss?
One of the reasons people choose zero-calorie drinks like Hint Water is to avoid extra calories. But this issue can sometimes get more complicated than just “calories in, calories out.”
For example, evidence shows that consuming artificial sweeteners is surprisingly ineffective for weight loss. Some evidence even suggests they can cause weight gain.
So, is there any reason why Hint Water wouldn’t be good for weight loss?
Hint Water is a great choice for weight loss. For every 16 ounces of sugary soda or juice you replace with Hint Water, you will consume ~200 fewer calories. That change alone, if repeated every day for a year, could cause weight loss of 10-20 pounds or more without changing anything else.
Replacing high-calories drink with Hint Water is essentially the same as replacing them with normal water. The only other added ingredient in Hint Water is “natural flavors,” which doesn’t have calories or any known effect on weight loss.
Sparkling Hint Water and Hint Energy are also good choices for weight-loss, as the bubbles or caffeine should not inhibit weight-loss at all.
But remember: The key to weight loss is your overall diet and calorie balance. One drink won’t make or break your diet. If you switch to Hint Water but then you eat extra snacks, too, you might cancel out the impact and stay stuck in a weight loss plateau.
If your goal is weight loss, you may want to consider tracking your calories as I describe in this post—or follow some of these 18 tips for weight loss without counting calories.
4. Is Hint Water Healthier Than Diet Soda?
Hint Water is generally healthier than diet soda. Diet sodas usually have artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium, 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 may be some “diet sodas” that use more “natural” zero-calorie sweeteners, like stevia, erythritol, or monk fruit extract instead. These sweeteners seem to have fewer problems, based on the research we have so far. So they may be quite safe, too.
But there can be other sketchy ingredients in diet sodas, too. Diet Coke, for example, has caramel color and phosphoric acid. Both are controversial for their own reasons.
Of course, maybe some of the controversy is overblown for some of these diet soda ingredients. They may be totally safe in moderation.
But Hint Water avoids all those uncertainties by just avoiding those extra ingredients all together. And personally, I like that.
Hint Water is just water and natural flavors. It’s simple, and pretty easy to trust—maybe aside from that propylene glycol issue… Let’s cover that next.
5. Is There Propylene Glycol in Hint Water?
In early 2017, Hint Water was hit with a class action lawsuit over their claims of selling an “all-natural” product. This is because the “natural flavors” in Hint Water actually use a processed ingredient, propylene glycol, as a solvent.
The propylene glycol does not legally need to be listed as an ingredient, since it is an “incidental solvent.” But it can be found if you actually test the product in a lab.
Anyway, the real question is: Should you even care? Is propylene glycol safe? What is it?
Propylene glycol is a food additive and ingredient used in many cosmetic and personal care products. It is made synthetically from derivatives of oil and natural gas.
In food, propylene glycol is used as an anti-caking agent, antioxidant, emulsifier, processing aid, and thickener. It’s also used in antifreeze, paint, and e-cigarettes. (source)
The FDA considers propylene glycol to be “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS). However, some people are concerned about its safety anyway.
There have been studies suggesting possibly toxicity with propylene glycol, but nothing showing that it should be a major concern.
There have not been any toxic effects seen at levels normally consumed. There has only been one documented case of propylene glycol toxicity from food, and it resulted from someone consuming a much higher amount than usual. (source)
In the body, about half of the propylene glycol you consume is just excreted by your kidneys. The rest is normally broken down by your body into lactic acid. This is not a concern at usual levels. (source)
Realistically, the small amount of propylene glycol in Hint Water should not be of any practical concern. The main grounds for the Hint lawsuit was really just a dispute over the term “all-natural.” And it may have been more of a shakedown than anything genuine.
If you eat other food products with “natural flavors,” then you’re likely already consuming small amounts of propylene glycol or other processed solvents in those cases, too.
But, having said that… make your own decisions!
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6. Does Hint Water Have Artificial Sweeteners?
Hint Water does not have aspartame, stevia, or any other artificial sweeteners. The flavors in Hint Water come solely from “natural flavors.”
This is one of the most interesting things about Hint Water. Many zero-calorie flavored waters have artificial sweeteners like aspartame or sucralose. Although those sweeteners are FDA approved, there is controversy about their long-term health impact.
Here are just a few of the concerns with artificial sweeteners:
- Studies show that 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, along with increased appetite.
- Sucralose seems to be a migraine trigger for some people. (source, source)
- Sucralose and other artificial sweeteners may increase insulin resistance through multiple mechanisms.
- Studies have suggested acesulfame K may cause cancer, although the studies were of low quality. (source)
- A breakdown product of acesulfame K, acetoacetamide, may damage the thyroid. (source)
And there are many, many more. If you want to learn more, start with this page from U.S. Right to Know.
Overall, the science around the long-term health impacts of artificial sweeteners are not fully known. But it’s awesome when a product like Hint Water can help us just avoid all the uncertainty by not using them.
Side note: Erythritol, monk fruit extract, and stevia seem to be healthier zero-calorie sweeteners. But there’s still uncertainty about how the body reacts to them long-term. It’s great if you can just avoid them all with a simple product like Hint Water.
7. Does Hint Water Have Sugar or Carbs?
Hint Water does not contain sugar or carbs. The nutrition facts label for Hint Water shows 0 grams of total carbohydrates and 0 grams of total sugars. This makes Hint Water suitable for keto and other low-carb diets.
Instead of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or artificial sweeteners, Hint Water simply has subtle “natural flavors,” which likely come primarily from the oils of fruit.
This is similar to how flavored seltzer water brands like La Croix and Bubly are flavored without sweeteners. And just like those drinks, Hint Water can be consumed on even the strictest low-carb diets.
8. Does Hint Water Have Sodium?
Hint Water does not have sodium. The nutrition facts label shows 0mg of sodium, and there is no added salt or “sodium” ingredients. This means Hint Water can be a good choice for people on a low-sodium diet who like flavored water.
Some flavored water products (like Propel Water) come with added “electrolytes,” and that can include added sodium. If you’re drinking a lot, that added sodium can add up. But Hint Water does not have added electrolytes.
- Does Hint Water Have Potassium? Hint Water does not have added potassium. The nutrition facts label does not show a value for potassium, but based on the ingredients, we could reasonably assume there is 0mg of potassium per 16 fl oz serving.
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9. Is Hint Water Caffeine Free?
Only the “Hint Energy” product line has caffeine. Hint Energy has 60mg of caffeine per bottle, sourced from coffee beans. All other product lines by Hint Water are free of caffeine.
How much is 60 mg of caffeine, really? Well, the Hint website says it’s about the same as an espresso shot. But I wanted to make a bigger comparison table with more reference points:
|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|
|Coca-Cola (12 oz)||34 mg|
|Barq’s Root Beer (12 oz)||22 mg|
As you can see, Hint Energy has less than 20% of the caffeine of Bang Energy Drink by volume. However, it still has more caffeine than Coca-Cola by volume (even after accounting for the different serving sizes).
Therefore, if you want maximum caffeine per sip, you may want to choose an energy drink, rather than Hint Energy. But if you’re okay with a more gradual or subtle caffeine kick, Hint Energy may be just right for you.
If you’d like to see a much larger comparison table for caffeine content, check out this page from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
[Related Post: Is Sugar-Free Red Bull Healthy? 12 Things You Should Know.]
10. Is Hint Water Vegan?
Hint Water is generally considered vegan. It contains no milk, eggs, honey, or other animal byproducts. This includes Still Hint Water, Sparkling Hint Water, and Hint Energy—all are vegan.
In fact, Hint Water may be even “more vegan” than competing products, because many competing beverages are sweetened—either with cane sugar that was filtered with animal bone char, or with artificial sweeteners that were tested on animals.
So, often, the sweetener used in a beverage will be at least slightly disputed by some of the strictest vegans. But with Hint Water, there’s really no contentious ingredients at all. Hint Water is vegan.
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