Tested: Which Health Drinks are Worth Splashing Out On?

 Buying Guides
(Image credit: Unknown)

Botanic Lab Isotonic Refuel

Price: £60 for 8

Claim: "It’s sold as an isotonic drink and, according to its maker, the activated charcoal 'absorbs gas and removes it from the body'," says sports nutritionist Matt Lovell, who works with Man City and Spurs specialising in fat loss and athletic performance.

Reality: “Charcoal has been used to treat various digestive ailments – and even poisoning – throughout history. It traps toxins in its tiny pores so you don’t digest them.”

Taste: “Incredibly sweet.”

Verdict: “The 17g of sugar puts me off. For a similar effect you could drink a glass of water with five teaspoons of sugar, the juice of a lemon and a pinch of salt, then eat a slice of burnt toast.”

Drink Maple

Price: £2

Claim: "Apparently, maple water has '46 naturally occurring polyphenols, antioxidants, prebiotics, minerals and electrolytes, half the sugar of coconut water and more manganese than a cup of kale'," says Lovell. 

Reality: “Without an ORAC rating [the official antioxidant measure] there’s no way of verifying the maker’s claims about what’s in it. However, it’s good to see high manganese and calcium content.”

Taste: “It’s good – kind of like a watered-down maple syrup and pretty sweet considering there’s only 2g of sugar per 100ml.”

Verdict: “Filtered water and a multivitamin would probably be better. That said, I wouldn’t write it off until I knew what the ORAC rating was – and it would make an amazing low-sugar mixer.”

Ucha Kombucha

Price: £2.10

Claim: "The manufacturer says this naturally fermented sparkling green tea is 'full of enzymes and probiotics' and is 'known to improve digestion, boost the immune system and reduce anxiety and stress'," Lovell says. 

Reality: “It’s fermented with kombucha yeast, which is a type of probiotic so it can be good for digestive health, while studies have shown green tea can reduce stress.”

Taste: “That’s great. It’s refreshing, with a slight yeastiness to it that’s reminiscent of a light beer. I like it.”

Verdict: “The ingredients are all natural, it’s barely got any sugar and I’m a fan of the complex flavour. I would take this over most soft drinks.”

Tapped Birch Water

Price: £2.85

Claim: "This is a natural source of the antioxidant manganese, drained directly from Finnish birch forests." 

Reality: “Each carton has 15% of your daily manganese, which is useful for joint health.”

Taste: “The flavour is subtle, which is a polite way of saying it basically tastes like water. Actually there is a little rustic hint to the aftertaste.”

Verdict: “Do the supposed detoxifying benefits just come from the manganese? Or are there any other active ingredients? If not, I’d rather have black tea, which has lots of manganese and more flavour.”

Max Anderton

Max was the head of digital content for Men's Fitness which worked alongside Coach between 2015 and 2019.