The coffee "dehydrates you" myth

Coffee is a diuretic so drinking it makes you dehydrated.

This is something I hear a lot when I talk to people about coffee, in fact it’s the number one fact I’m given from non-coffee drinkers as to why I shouldn’t be drinking coffee or running The Monthly Coffee Club.

Everyone know’s it’s a fact, Right?

Well, No. Not really.

The key to this is that although caffeine does have diuretic effect (it makes you need to pee more) that the level of fluid that you’ll intake (even drinking espresso or lungo drinks) outweighs the effect of the caffeine in the drinks and overall makes very little or no difference to the body’s level of hydration

The Mayo Clinic puts it very succinctly here

“Drinking caffeine-containing beverages as part of a normal lifestyle doesn't cause fluid loss in excess of the volume ingested. While caffeinated drinks may have a mild diuretic effect — meaning that they may cause the need to urinate — they don't appear to increase the risk of dehydration.”

Coffee and other caffeine containing drinks are not always the right choices for everyone and the same as everything all good things in moderation the same “pep-up” effect that some people drink coffee for can cause headaches and even insomnia in some people but for most a good cup of coffee is a great way to start the day.

If you are looking for the best way to hydrate the answer is always water, it’s free, readily available to most and the best source hydration but lets face it a world in which we only drank water would have a big coffee-cup shaped gap in it.

Even I wouldn’t recommend drinking nothing but coffee, however I think it’s important that where we come across myths we bust them where we can.

The “Villain” of the piece here isn’t coffee, it’s caffeine and if like me you love the taste of great coffee then you should find yourself a great decaf. I drink a cup of decaf if I fancy a coffee in the evening and because I’ve found a flavoursome and rich decaf I get all the upside of the flavour without caffeine in the evening, also decaf doesn’t have any diuretic effect at all.

Other common diuretic beverages are tea and alcohol, especially in spirit form but again the fluid contained in the drink (for spirits a long drink is best) far outweigh the effects on the body and the best thing to do as with most things is to take a measured approach to what you eat and drink.

There are many who consider coffee to be the route of all evil, it keeps you awake, gives you headaches and is diuretic are just some of the criticisms levelled at it, but as a coffee fan and drinker I don’t find it does any of them to me, but as with all food and drinks, I’d say that if you find these are unwanted effects on you, stop drinking coffee and replace it with another beverage.

For me, flavour a bit of a pep-up when I’m lagging and the rich aroma make coffee the prefect hot drink for me and as you may have read in a previous blog I may even owe it my life, so for now diuretic myth aside I’ll still be drinking an espresso or two a day.