What Our Nutritionist Has To Say About WaterTok's Divisive Water Trend

Your body needs water to support the cells, tissues, and organs throughout your body. Although in the past, people believed we should hit 8 glasses of water a day, that's just a rough estimation of your hydration needs. You get about 20% of your hydration from food, but you'll also need to drink some fluids, preferably water (via Mayo Clinic). People on TikTok are now trying to find ways to make water a little less boring.

It's called WaterTok, where people are adding flavored syrups and powders to their water. The #WaterTok hashtag has garnered almost half a billion (yes, billion) views, and companies that make the drink mixes are seeing big boosts in revenue (via the New York Times). Dr. Amy Lee, Head of Nutrition for Nucific, says that her weight-loss clients often complain about the dull taste of water.

"Water intake is part of healthy weight loss," Lee said. "We recommend 2-3 liters of water and noncaloric liquids. With the options of new products and flavors, people are now exploring other options of adding flavors into their water by using zero calorie sweeteners such as powders and syrups." In an exclusive interview with Health Digest, Lee gives us her perspective about the WaterTok trend.

The pros of WaterTok

Some TikTok users who've had bariatric surgery laud WaterTok to help them with hydration, since carbonated beverages are off-limits post-surgery (via the New York Times). One TikTok user, Erienne Higgins, says she never drank any flavor packets before having bariatric surgery. "I didn't like anything sweet like that. I could not do it, she said in one post. Now she says she can't drink plain water even 16 months after her surgery. "It sits like a brick in my gut and it actually physically hurts me," she said. A doctor told BuzzFeed that bariatric patients who experience water nausea might crave something sweet to make water more palatable.

Lee says adding syrups and flavorings to everyday water can help people meet their hydration needs. "I also would recommend thinking about electrolytes because it actually helps with retaining the fluids in the right places, such as in your vascular compartments, versus tissues or simply just peeing [them] out," she said. Electrolytes such as sodium, magnesium, and potassium maintain fluid balance, nerve function, muscle contraction, and the pH balance in your blood (via Medical News Today).

The cons of WaterTok

Tonya Spanglo, who had gastric sleeve surgery, has more than one million followers on Tiktok and lists a Skinny Syrup discount code on her profile. She posts her Skinny Syrup concoctions and other weight-loss hacks on her account. Health experts are concerned about WaterTok because many of the influencers also use weight loss-related hashtags in their videos. People with disordered eating behaviors will often use fluids to fill up so they don't feel hungry (via Rolling Stone). Drinking too much water without electrolytes can lead to hyponatremia, which can cause nausea or seizures. It could also lead to a coma or death because of swelling in the brain (via Mayo Clinic).

Lee adds a word of caution about some of the processed syrups and powders. "Zero calorie sweeteners and syrups usually have added additives and preservatives, which one can acquire when drinking their fluids," she said. For example, Jordan's Skinny Mixes and Syrups are sweetened with sucralose, which might affect your gut and damage your DNA. A 2023 review in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health found that your body breaks down sucralose and produces sucralose-6-acetate, a substance that can break up the DNA in your gut's cells and lead to inflammation, oxidative stress, and cancer.