If you love your daily cup (or cups) of coffee as much as we do, you may sometimes wonder how your morning cup affects your health. You may have even decided to make the switch to decaf coffee if you’re worried about the common side effects associated with higher than normal caffeine intake.
But you also may have heard that coffee will dehydrate you. And what about decaf? Is it the same across the coffee spectrum? We’ve taken a look at what medical science has to say to find out if you really have to worry about dehydration when reaching for your cup of coffee bean juice.
So Does Decaf Coffee Dehydrate You?
Understandably, you may be concerned about the effects of caffeine on hydration. Because caffeine is a mild diuretic (meaning it causes you to pee at a greater rate), it’s no wonder that you might question if that would cause you to expel more water and therefore become dehydrated.
But when it comes to coffee, there really isn’t any evidence that it dehydrates you. Remember that even if the coffee causes you to use the bathroom more, you’re still drinking water in your black coffee.
In most cases, the water intake will be greater than any amount that you’re expelling, so the net amount of total body water will actually increase slightly.
Even better, since the diuretic effect comes from the caffeine content in coffee, and decaffeinated coffee has nearly all the caffeine removed from it during processing, you may not experience more frequent urination while drinking decaf.
Is There Any Difference in Dehydration Between Regular and Decaf Coffee?
According to Healthline, higher caffeinated coffee will have a mild diuretic effect that will make you urinate more frequently. But lower caffeinated beverages (like decaffeinated coffee) don’t have this issue, and the net hydration effects between decaf and water are similar.
In fact, science seems to tell us that the more caffeine a beverage has, the greater the adverse effect. So while you may not experience any change in urination frequency with decaf coffee, you’ll find a much more significant change if you drink a shot or two of espresso.
Is Drinking Decaf As Good As Drinking Water?
You’ll be happy to hear that coffee is not a significant cause of dehydration. You might even be wondering if coffee can act as a replacement for water if you’re not losing water when you drink it.
However, since coffee is a diuretic, you’re still not intaking as much water as you would from other sources, like plain water or tea. So, coffee really shouldn’t be considered “as good as” water when it comes to hydration, according to Precision Fuel & Hydration.
But the case is different when it comes to decaf coffee. Since decaf contains significantly lower caffeine levels than regular coffee, the diuretic effect won’t be as strong if you experience it at all, and it can be as hydrating as a cup of water.
In short, a cup of decaf coffee per day is unlikely to have any impact on your hydration and can serve as a substitute for water.
Keep in mind, though, that decaf coffee has its drawbacks, namely that it could lead to an increase in cholesterol, according to Science Daily, and you shouldn’t rely entirely on decaf to fulfill your hydration needs.
There’s nothing like good old water when it comes to quenching your thirst, so don’t rely on cups of coffee to do the job.
What Are the Signs of Dehydration?
If you’re worried about the dehydrating effects of coffee because you’re concerned that you may be dehydrated, make sure that you’re able to spot the symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, check for any of these signs that you may be dehydrated:
- extreme thirst
- dry mouth and/or tongue
- dark-colored urine
- dizziness, confusion, and fatigue
- less frequent urination
If you’re worried that you may be experiencing dehydration, your best bet is to make sure that you’re increasing your fluid intake during the day and not swapping coffee for water to do it. If that doesn’t seem to help, or your symptoms appear to be severe, be sure to talk with your doctor right away to find out what’s up and how to fix it.
How Much Water Should You Drink In A Day?
While the prevailing wisdom is that you should aim to get in about 64 ounces of water a day, or about 8 cups, the truth is that it depends on a lot of factors, like your height, age, body weight, differences in body mass, and activity level, according to Medical News Today.
You’re going to need lots more water if you’re active in sports or other activities, or if you’re a larger, taller person. Luckily, our bodies come equipped with a great way to tell us if we need more water: thirst!
Make sure that you’re drinking water when you’re thirsty, and you shouldn’t experience any issues with dehydration, even if you have a cup of coffee in the morning.
To help you stay hydrated throughout the day, make sure to keep a bottle of water with you at all times, so you can reach for it when you need to.
The bottom line is that while, yes, regular coffee does have a mild diuretic effect, the amount that you pee doesn’t exceed the amount that you’re taking in. This is especially true for decaf coffee since it doesn’t have the same diuretic effect as regular coffee.
So while coffee (caffeinated or decaf) shouldn’t be your primary source of daily hydration, it is more likely to help keep you hydrated than to dehydrate you.
Feel free to enjoy your daily cup of coffee after dinner without worrying about any dehydrating effects, but when you’re not drinking coffee, make sure that you’re getting adequate water intake through other sources, like water and tea.
And if you’re finding that you’re having trouble staying hydrated, it’s probably not the coffee, and you should seek advice from your healthcare provider so that you can find the reason and get back on track.