All these years I simply took it as a fact that coffee dehydrates you, and in my imagination, turns you into a wrinkly-ass dried out raisin by the end of the day if you don’t drink enough water to go with it. But the fine folks at MEL Magazine have reported that this is not actually the case. My feeble mind finds yet another way to be blown to smithereens.
“Coffee in general is a very mild diuretic. It’s nearly as hydrating as water,” says Danna Hunnes, senior dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
There’s a 2014 study that supports this claim, too (participants were 52 males between 18-64 years-old, all nonsmokers). Women weren’t included due to concerns of possible fluid imbalances during their menstrual cycles. The study concluded: “These data suggest that coffee, when consumed in moderation by caffeine habituated males provides similar hydrating qualities to water.” Moderation counts as three to six cups a day, according to the study.
Not all coffee is equal when it comes to hydration, however. The ideal coffee for maximum hydration is one with a lower concentration of caffeine and a higher concentration of water, which is pretty straightforward. So, naturally, the most hydrating version of coffee is decaffeinated and iced (there’s still some caffeine, in decaf, just not a ton, and ice adds extra water). But even so, fully leaded coffee still hydrates. A barista interviewed for the story suggests an Americano—an espresso and water, as their version of hydrating coffee.
I don’t think I could subsist on coffee being my only liquid all day, however. If I drink too much of it, I might not feel too good. And if I start feel trapped, I know I’ve had way too much.