#WaterTok overflowing with water ‘recipes’ as experts trash zero-cal sugars

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#WaterTok overflowing with water ‘recipes’ as experts trash zero-cal sugars

A spoonful of sweetener helps the water go down for these TikTokers.

Those eager to stay hydrated and svelte are turning to saccharine water enhancers – sweetening up their otherwise plain-tasting H2O while losing weight in the process – and sharing their recipes and secrets on #WaterTok.

With over 97 million views#WaterTok is a low-calorie Candy Land of sickly sweet concoctions — such as banana split, Skittles and cotton candy — created with low- or zero-sugar flavor packets or “skinny” syrups.

While proud Stanley tumbler owners are clamoring to try the hydration and weight loss hack, the ultra-sweet mixtures have ignited a stomach-churning controversy online as haters denounce the trend and health professionals warn against artificial additives and faux sugar’s long-term effects.

Still, some are touting it anyway, come hell or high water.

Tonya Spanglo who boasts over 774,000 followers on TikTok, underwent gastric sleeve surgery three years ago but just couldn’t meet her water goal of 64 ounces per day post-procedure. That is, until she started flavoring it.

Now, she downs 90 ounces every single day.

“Back when I was 400-and-something pounds, I literally would drink like five [Coca-Colas] a day,” Spanglo, 45, told The Post. “These waters have replaced the Coke, and that’s kind of how it started.”


Spanglo once weighed over 400 pounds, but after bariatric surgery was forced to quit her soda habit and find an alternative.
takingmylifebackat42/Tiktok

Tonya Spanglo on TikTok
Spearheading the #WaterTok trend, Spanglo shares her original and unique recipes with her thousands of followers.
takingmylifebackat42/Tiktok

The Oklahoma-based TikToker, who has never “been a big water drinker,” has become the face of the #WaterTok trend since she first went viral with her mermaid and unicorn concoctions using Skinny Mixes syrups.

Taking a 40-ounce tumbler full of ice, Spanglo adds whatever mixture of powdered flavoring and syrup she’s craving that day, regularly attempting different kinds at her followers’ request.

Some of her more popular and proudly original recipes include Jolly Rancher cotton candy – three pumps of the skinny cotton candy syrup combined with a green apple candy-inspired flavor packet – and salted caramel apple – the same tangy flavor packet mixed with two pumps of caramel syrup.

“I think it’s just an amazing thing that we’re all trying to just get healthy together,” gushed Spanglo, whose love for drink experimentation stems from kitchen quality time with her mom growing up.

@takingmylifebackat42

Jolly Rancher Cotton Candy Water💗💗💗MAKE THIS! water recipe drink drinkwater h2o healthyrecipes weightloss fatloss weightlosstips weightlosscheck motivation goals fit fitness fitnessmotivation vsg wls yummy waterqueen myjourney

♬ original sound – 🖤Tonya

Seemingly harmless, the trend has been a point of contention online as people argue that the beverages are just “juice” or an aspartame overload,

“This ain’t water anymore it’s sugar water,” one user wrote under her salted caramel apple clip.

“Y’all this isn’t water. It’s juice … JUICE,” agreed another, while others voiced their concerns over the artificial sugars present in the diet-specific products.


Tonya Spanglo on TikTok
But the trend is not without controversy — critics argue that the mixtures are more like “juice” or diet soda due to the sweeteners, while fans champion Spanglo’s creations.
takingmylifebackat42/Tiktok

Tonya Spanglo on TikTok
With millions of views on the hashtag, #WaterTok’s devoted followers have incorporated the experimental beverages into their daily lives.
takingmylifebackat42/Tiktok

Low- or zero-sugar drinks typically contain artificial sweeteners — sucralose, aspartame and saccharin, to name a few — to maintain the flavor profile without the added calories. Hailed as the diet alternatives to sugary favorites, artificial sweeteners have recently been linked to health problems, such as an increased risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

In fact, adding the syrupy sweetness to H2O makes it more like diet soda than pure water, says nutritionist Michelle Blum. told her campus,

“While these syrups do not contain significant amounts of calories, fat and sugar, it does have quite a list of controversial ingredients, similar to that of a diet soda,” said Blum, the owner of Nutrish Mish, “So, between the artificial sweeteners, the artificial colors and the preservatives, once you add this to water, it starts to look more like a diet soda than water.”

But for people attempting to lose weight or cut back on sugar per their doctor’s orders, the faux versions are a necessity – and for some, #WaterTok has been life-changing.

“Sometimes it’s OK to defend your lifestyle,” said Spanglo, who tries to welcome differences of opinion on her page. “Sometimes it’s OK to say, ‘Hey, this is what I do and this is what my surgeons and my doctors have advised me on.’”

And “it’s worked,” she declared, sharing that she’s shed over 200 pounds.

The content creator recalled one follower whose mother was dying from dementia and refusing to drink water – until they gave her the mermaid-flavored water. At the time, the family was advised to say their goodbyes, but once she tasted the sweet beverage, she upped her liquid intake.

A year later, she’s still alive.

“That’s what keeps me going,” said Spanglo, who regularly receives comments of praise as other users share their water intake success. “Even if it’s just that one story I got, I still keep posting the water [recipes],

As for the people denouncing the trend, she says she’s just following doctor’s orders: “As long as it’s sugar-free, you can flavor your water and it still counts toward your water intake.”


Tonya Spanglo on TikTok
The diet beverages are usually made with low-calorie flavor packets and sugar-free “skinny” syrups.
takingmylifebackat42/Tiktok

She isn’t a physician nor a nutritionist and she’s “not giving you weight loss advice,” she said, noting that her followers with questions — or concerns — should reach out to the professionals.

“I’m just saying I love this water. It’s amazing,” she said. “And if you want to make it, make it. If you don’t, don’t.”

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