Like 'Mythbusters' but for seltzer

By Rebecca Firkser
Updated September 25, 2018
EC: How Bubbly Should Sparkling Water Be?
Credit: Photo by Steve Lupton via Getty Images

On a recent episode of his Armchair Expert podcast, Dax Shepard told a story about how, after finding himself in possession of a second refrigerator, he began drinking liters of San Pellegrino every night. “I shit my pants in pretty rapid succession over the course of three months,” he said. He was completely convinced he’d developed IBS and continued to believe this until a talking with a friend. Shepard offered the friend a sparkling water, to which his friend replied, “I can’t drink Pellegrino. Every time I drink Pellegrino I shit my pants.” While you can’t really argue with that logic, I was simultaneously skeptical and horrified. Was my nightly bitters and soda going to betray me in the most unpleasant way? Should I risk it?

This wasn’t the first time I’d heard about a negative side effect of regularly drinking sparkling water. A few months ago, someone I follow on Instagram said they had to go to the hospital to be treated for dehydration because she wasn’t drinking any water, just La Croix. While this isn’t my life (I truly enjoy drinking regular water and even wrote a love letter to my water bottle), I know many folks who’d always pick sparkling water over still. So I decided to do a bit of research.

Myth: It will make you shit your pants

It’s clear from the Armchair Expert story that this is no myth for at least two men. But I couldn’t find any other accounts of pants-pooping from drinking too much sparkling water. It is a fact, however, that the simplest solution for constipation is increasing the amount of water you drink. While you may not be making any emergency bathroom trips, it’s not a myth that regularly drinking fizzy drinks can make you more gaseous and bloated.

Myth: It will dehydrate you

It has been proven that carbonated water is just as hydrating as still water. However, to completely forgo still water for sparkling is a bold move and probably not the best choice.

Myth: It will destroy your tooth enamel

Many studies have found that carbonated drinks, especially sugary sodas, can be erosive to tooth enamel. But it has also been proven that acidity levels are typically so low in seltzer that it's unlikely to seriously harm your teeth. However, it’s certain that the flavorings in seltzer like citric acid, not the carbonation, cause the drink’s acidity, so if you are a constant sparkling water-guzzler, try to stick with unflavored.

Myth: It makes you gain weight

While it’s no secret that drinking many sugary sodas every day will cause weight gain, the bubbles aren’t to blame. Seltzer, sparkling water, and club soda alone won’t make you gain weight. Interestingly, a recent study found that regularly drinking carbonated beverages increases the hunger hormone ghrelin, so people who drank fizzy water instead of still water were more likely to feel hungry, eat more, and possibly gain weight. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with gaining weight—we’re simply debunking seltzer myths here.