The bottled water aisle isn’t what it used to be. Companies make it sound like drinking ordinary water would leave you weak, exhausted, and dehydrated.

Here's what to make of the top trends in fancy (and pricey) waters.

Protein water

What it is: Water with added whey protein isolate.

Claim: “This low calorie protein drink maintains and replenishes muscle, increases energy & endurance, curbs appetite, and provides hydration,” says Trimino.

Evidence: “That’s quite a claim for the amount of protein that’s in only one ounce of chicken breast,” says Sam Cheuvront, a physiologist at the Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine. Each 16 oz. bottle of Trimino has just 7 grams.

In an industry-funded study on protein water and hydration, 10 young adults exercised until they were dehydrated and then drank about two liters of water either with or without roughly 40 grams of whey protein isolate. Over the next four hours, they were no better hydrated after drinking protein water than plain water.

Bottom Line: Extra protein in water doesn’t improve hydration.

Deep ocean water

What it is: Desalinated water from a deep ocean current.

Claim: “Kona Deep has a unique blend of electrolytes and trace minerals” that “hydrates you twice as fast as bottled spring water and a leading sports drink,” says the company.

Evidence: Eight young adults exercised until they were dehydrated and then drank Kona Deep water, spring water, or a sports drink. The level of particles dissolved in the participants’ saliva returned to normal twice as fast after they drank Kona Deep than after they drank the spring water or sports drink.

But particles in saliva “fluctuate in response to whatever you’re drinking, so they don’t really tell you anything useful about hydration,” says Cheuvront.

What’s more, he adds, “this study is missing tremendous amounts of details and even plausibility.” That’s because there’s nothing special about Kona Deep’s electrolytes (roughly 2 milligrams of potassium and 45 mg of sodium in a 16.9 oz. bottle).

Bottom Line: Kona Deep is “basically just water,” says Cheuvront.

Hydrogen water

What it is: Water with added molecules of hydrogen.

Claim: “Boosts endurance, minimizes lactic acid, reduces fatigue,” promises Htwo. “Improve athletic performance, reduce inflammation, deliver powerful antioxidants,” boasts HFactor.

Evidence: In one study, researchers gave 10 male soccer players either plain water or hydrogen water for a week before having them cycle on a stationary bike and do knee extensions.

The hydrogen water had no impact on how much force the players could exert during knee extensions. However, post-workout blood lactate levels were lower after drinking hydrogen water than after drinking plain water.

And in a study that was partly industry funded, eight young female judo athletes had lower post-­exercise blood lactate levels if they drank 10 ounces of hydrogen water instead of plain water 30 minutes before exercise.

But “lactate doesn’t cause fatigue, despite what many people believe,” Cheuvront explains.

In fact, muscle fatigue was no lower when the soccer players drank hydrogen water. (The researchers didn’t measure fatigue in the judo athletes.)

Bottom Line: There’s no good evidence to back up the claims for hydrogen water.

Photos: Samara Doole/