Imagine drinking liters of water religiously to hydrate your body only to learn that the one tall cold brew you order daily could dehydrate you. You might’ve heard from a friend or online search that caffeine is a diuretic and makes you pee more, leading to a significant loss of fluids in your body. Before you worry and give up your cup of joe, research provided more context into this. Here are reasons why drinking iced coffee can and cannot cause dehydration.
1. Coffee Is Brewed With Water
Your favorite cold brew is prepared by soaking coffee beans overnight in several liters of water, so drinking can’t result in fluid loss. A cup of coffee is 98% water, meaning only an insignificant amount is coffee.
Have you noticed how local baristas make your iced Americano? They extract the hot espresso through pressurized water, then add scoops of ice before pouring the shot. In short, the content of your iced coffee is mostly water.
2. It’s Full Of Ice
Ice cubes are pure water, so they increase the amount of liquid you consume. It’s included in the 98% water content of the coffee. If you haven’t noticed yet, about half or more of your iced Americano is ice cubes to cool off the hot espresso shot.
If you’re worried about the caffeine content, a grande-sized iced caramel macchiato at Starbucks only has 150 mg of caffeine — less than half of the 400 mg suggested by the FDA. Unless you take your coffee with an extra double shot of espresso, it’s within a healthy limit to drink about two grande sizes.
3. It’s Mixed With Milk
It’s a myth that an iced latte or cappuccino causes dehydration. On the contrary, milk is nutritious, and has vitamins and minerals like calcium to support the body. One study revealed milk-containing beverages are superior to water and carbohydrate-based electrolyte beverages when it comes to sustaining fluid balance in the body four hours after ingestion. In addition, dairy-based drinks show a higher hydration index thanks to their greater mineral content.
4. The Diuretic Effect Is Short Term
Coffee is a diuretic, which is a substance that promotes the production of urine and is also found in alcoholic beverages like beer. The effect of a diuretic often leads to frequent bathroom trips and, ultimately, dehydration.
Experts state the diuretic effect of 300 mg of caffeine — equivalent to three cups of coffee — is only mild and similar to that of water. Enjoying a cold brew has no considerable adverse impact on the body’s fluid balance. Nevertheless, it’s still a good practice to follow it up with water, especially if you notice your urine is bright or dark yellow.
5. It Counts Toward Daily Water Intake
Health experts recommend drinking 11.5 cups of fluids for women and 15.5 cups for men to replenish the liquids lost during the day through sweating and breathing. The good news is sipping iced coffee counts toward your daily fluid intake — along with soda that lacks nutritional value but still has hydrating benefits.
Caffeine’s diuretic effect is minimal and doesn’t offset hydration. So long as you limit your intake to the recommended amount and you don’t have a health condition, there should be no problem enjoying your brew over ice.
When Iced Coffee Can Cause Dehydration
Coffee has a lot of research-proven benefits — it can improve your mood, lower your risk of depression and help you stay alert. However, you can’t skip the downsides.
A glass of iced latte is unlikely to dehydrate you. However, if you drink one several times throughout the day and exceed the 400-mg-daily recommended cap, several adverse effects can surface, such as:
- Restlessness and shakiness
It’s OK to indulge in an iced caffeinated beverage in moderation. If you drink more than necessary, it can have potent dehydrating effects.
Drinking Iced Coffee In Moderation Won’t Cause Dehydration
You won’t have to give up your favorite iced latte or cold brew anytime soon, as it won’t cause dehydration. In contrast, it can be hydrating since it’s mostly made of water, plus adding milk rich in potassium and calcium will make it nutritious. The only time it becomes unhealthy is when you drink too much.
Remember to count the number of glasses of caffeinated beverages you consume and limit it to two orders of grande sizes to prevent dehydration. Ice coffee is such a delightful treat, so be mindful of your health by drinking in moderation.