When you’re feeling thirsty or dehydrated, reaching for a refreshing beverage may seem like common sense.

However, research is mixed on the hydrating effects of certain beverages. While all liquids can help maintain hydration status, some may be more beneficial than others.

Certain drinks contain ingredients that can increase urine output. These could contribute to dehydration if you consume them in large amounts.

On the other hand, some studies show that certain beverages that are often believed to be dehydrating are unlikely to affect fluid balance or increase water retention, especially if enjoyed in moderation.

This article takes a closer look at how certain drinks may impact your hydration status and presents some tips to prevent dehydration.

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Coffee, tea, and soda contain caffeine, a central nervous system stimulant that acts as a natural diuretic to increase urine production (1).

However, research is mixed on whether these beverages increase urine output significantly. Some studies suggest that they don’t cause dehydration.

One study in 72 people found that short-term urine output did not differ after drinking coffee, tea, or soda compared with drinking water. That indicates that these beverages don’t cause dehydration (2).

However, the amount you drink may make a difference, and some beverages may affect the perception of thirst differently.

A small study in 10 people found that consuming 537 mg of caffeine, or about 6 cups of coffee, significantly increased urine production. Meanwhile, consuming 269 mg of caffeine, or about 3 cups of coffee, didn’t affect fluid balance (3, 4).

In another study, thirsty adults perceived a cold carbonated beverage to be more thirst-quenching than water. As a result, they drank less water throughout the day (5).

Still, enjoying these drinks in moderation and pairing them with other beverages in your diet, such as water, is unlikely to cause dehydration.


Coffee, tea, and soda contain caffeine, a natural diuretic. While these drinks don’t cause dehydration, large amounts may increase urine production. Cold carbonated drinks may be more thirst-quenching, potentially causing you to drink less water.

Alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine, and liquor, can change your body’s fluid balance by reducing the secretion of vasopressin, a hormone involved in the regulation of urine output (6, 7, 8, 9).

According to a small study in 11 men, consuming beer with a 5% alcohol content after exercise increased urine output significantly more than consuming a sports drink did (10).

In another study in 20 older adults, drinking just 2 servings of wine increased short-term urine output. However, the effects of certain types of alcohol may differ, as drinking 2 servings of beer did not have a significant effect (11, 12).

Energy drinks can also increase the risk of dehydration, possibly because of their caffeine content. According to one review, dehydration and increased urination were among the most common side effects associated with drinking them (13).

Interestingly, a review of 49 studies even reported that caffeinated energy drinks, wine, and spirits can all significantly increase urine production (14).

In addition, certain types of energy drinks contain other ingredients that could contribute to dehydration.

Taurine, for example, is a compound with diuretic effects. It’s commonly added to energy drinks because it can enhance athletic performance (15).

Therefore, it’s best to moderate your intake of energy drinks and alcoholic beverages and pair these drinks with plenty of water to stay hydrated.


Alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine, and liquor increase urine output and could cause dehydration if consumed in large amounts. Caffeinated energy drinks may also contain ingredients that increase urine production and contribute to dehydration.

Moderating your intake of energy drinks and alcoholic beverages is an easy way to prevent dehydration.

You can also pair the listed drinks with plenty of water throughout the day to help you stay hydrated.

Most guidelines recommend aiming for a total fluid intake of about 11.5 cups (2.7 L) for women and 15.5 cups (3.7 L) for men, which includes water from both foods and beverages (16).

Listening to your body and learning to recognize signs of dehydration can also be beneficial. These include (17):

  • fatigue
  • dry skin or lips
  • muscle cramps
  • thirst
  • dark-colored urine
  • decreased urine output
  • headaches
  • lightheadedness

Moderating your intake of the beverages listed above and drinking plenty of water can help prevent dehydration. Listening to your body and learning to recognize signs of dehydration can also be beneficial.

Though all liquids can help you meet your fluid needs, some may be more hydrating than others.

In particular, it’s best to enjoy caffeinated energy drinks and alcohol in moderation and consume them alongside water to stay properly hydrated.

Learning to listen to your body, recognizing the signs of dehydration, and drinking plenty of water during the day can also ensure you’re meeting your fluid needs.

Just one thing

Try this today: In addition to drinking water, you can enjoy a variety of water-rich foods to help you stay hydrated. Check out this article for a comprehensive list of 19 hydrating foods to add to your diet.

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