Does Coffee Dehydrate You?

Ah that timeless morning tradition, coffee. If you’re like 64% of Americans, then you consume at least one cup of coffee every day. Globally, coffee is a 100-billion-dollar industry and has been a cross-cultural dietary staple for hundreds of years. While coffee and its caffeine content produce that wide-awake perky energy boost we all know and love, some folks find that after drinking coffee they feel dehydrated. But, does coffee dehydrate you? We did the research and the answer is…

No. Coffee does not dehydrate you.

Now look, you could stop reading right there… But wouldn’t you like to know more about why people have been laboring under the incorrect assumption that coffee is dehydrating? Well, in that case, read on…

Why do people think Coffee is Dehydrating?

Even though coffee itself is not more or less hydrating than its water equivalent, the caffeine in coffee is a diuretic. What’s a diuretic? Great question! A diuretic is something that promotes the production of urine. You might think that more frequent pitstops would cause the body to lose more fluids, thus making coffee dehydrating. But studies show this is just not the case.

So why do people keep asking if coffee is dehydrating? Because, dear reader, caffeine also increases thirst, and thirst is one of the main ways that people gauge their hydration. Is thirst the best way to gauge hydration? No! Tracking the color of your urine is much better for getting an understanding of your hydration levels, and if you’re a coffee drinker those frequent bathroom breaks will come in handy for just this purpose. You can read more about how to monitor your hydration status over here.

Now, just because coffee doesn’t dehydrate you there are some other factors to consider when planning your caffeine intake for the day. Symptoms of an excess of caffeine consumption include dizziness, increased heart rate, headaches and more. Coincidentally, these are also some of the symptoms of dehydration. It’s possible that because of this correlation people consuming an excess of caffeine have wrongly assumed that the unpleasant side effects are a result of dehydration. Look, we’d love to be able to tell you that if you just drank more water then you could also drink enough coffee to levitate to the moon, but it just doesn’t work that way…

Coffee is not inherently dehydrating, but frequent bathroom breaks and excess thirst might make it feel that way. Don’t worry. The solution is simple. Keep an eye on your urine color (aiming for that perfect lemonade yellow color that indicates ideal hydration) and supplement with water or Nuun to quench thirst and boost your regular hydration as needed.

Looking for more info about coffee and hydration? Take a look at this article about the Role of Caffeine in Athletic Performance!  

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