Does coffee dehydrate you?

19th February 2020

Everyone’s heard that they’re supposed to drink 8 glasses of water per day but there’s a lot of debate about whether hot drinks, such as tea and coffee, can contribute towards that daily count. In fact, many people have heard that coffee actually does the opposite and can cause dehydration, but is that true?

Does coffee dehydrate you?

No, coffee does not dehydrate you. The caffeine it contains might, as it’s been shown to have a mild diuretic effect. This means that it causes your kidneys to flush extra water through your body and out into your urine without absorbing as much of it as it normally would. Other natural diuretics include alcohol, ginger and black cumin.

However, the diuretic effect of caffeine is very mild and unless you’re consuming your coffee by eating instant powder straight from the packet (and who would do that?), then you’ll be taking in more than enough fluids at the same time as the caffeine, to counteract the effects. Therefore, coffee is hydrating (rather than dehydrating) and can (and should) count towards your daily water intake.

If you find that you’re experiencing symptoms of mild dehydration (such as headaches) then it could be that you’re simply not drinking enough water alongside your coffee. For most people, their need for caffeine will be far less than their need for water, so if you’re only getting up to make a drink when that caffeine pick-me-up calls your name then there’s a pretty good chance that you’re not drinking enough.

How to stay hydrated

So your morning coffee won’t dehydrate you, but it can still be tricky to make sure you’re drinking enough through the day.

Drink water before and after every meal

It can be hard to keep track of your fluid intake when your mind is busy focusing on other things, but you’re unlikely to forget to eat your main meals of the day. So try having a glass of water before and after every meal to easily up your water intake.

If you feel hungry, drink water

Often, your mind can confuse the feeling of thirst with the feeling of hunger so if you’re tempted to reach for a snack, reach for a glass of water first. It could be that what your body was really craving was a little hydration!

If you don’t like the taste of water, try adding fruit

There are plenty of people who find water too plain or bland for them to enjoy it, and this can lead to them not drinking enough. If you want to add a little excitement to your glass then try adding some fruit slices (like lemon or lime). This should make it more enjoyable and if that’s still not doing it for you then you could try a little sugar-free fruit squash.

Keep a bottle of water with you

Often, the main reason that people become dehydrated is because they simply forget to drink enough. If you’re busy at work, you probably won’t want to get up every so often to have a drink of water. Instead, try keeping a bottle of water with you that you can sip from regularly. You can even get bottles with times printed down the side so you can keep track better.

How to combat dehydration

Even if you’re drinking enough, you should still be aware of the fluid your body uses and loses as it functions. Sweat and urine are both ways in which your body can lose a lot of water and with it, electrolytes too. These are minerals that help your muscles and nerves to keep working properly.

To ensure your body is not only hydrated with water but also with all the electrolytes it needs, try a sports drink or a supplement such as Dioralyte when you do anything that causes you to lose more water than normal.