Many people are confused about whether coffee can contribute to dehydration. For years, medical experts have been saying that caffeine in coffee acts as a potent diuretic, which leads to excessive urination resulting in dehydration. But recent research has been published on this topic, and the results appear to contradict the prior notion about coffee. Most studies have shown that in moderate amounts, the caffeine in coffee only has mild diuretic effects and does not lead to dehydration.
A diuretic is any drug that elevates the rate of urination. All diuretics increase the excretion of water from the body. A recent study on the diuretic effects of caffeine in The International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism concluded that when coffee is consumed, the body retains some of the fluid and that caffeine consumption causes a mild diuresis that is very similar to the diuretic actions of water.
“The truth of the matter is, a small increase in urine output has little to do with dehydrating the body,” said Lawrence Armstrong, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Connecticut and director of the Human Performance Laboratory.
He added that any increase in fluid input will lead to an increase in urine output. “If you drink a liter of water, [urination] will increase,” Armstrong said. “Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t drink water.”
To sum it up, coffee and caffeine consumption in moderation can have a mild diuretic effect, but its effects are similar to that of water. Regardless, coffee can make you jittery, sleepless, or anxious. Water is always your best bet for staying hydrated.
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