FUEL: Get Hy­drated … With Cof­fee?

Raise your morn­ing mug and toast to your fit­ness goals — ex­perts con­firm you won’t get left high and dry.

Muscle & Performance - - Contents - By Katy Loren

It’s been a “fit­ness fact” for­ever — if you want to hy­drate, cut back on caf­feinated drinks. Af­ter all, caf­feine is a di­uretic, right? Good­bye, sweet cup of morn­ing Joe. Well, scratch that old, out­dated ad­vice, says Car­rie Rux­ton, PH.D., RD, a nu­tri­tion­ist based in the United King­dom who has stud­ied the ef­fects of caf­feine (from tea) on the body.

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“Caf­feine alone does have a di­uretic ef­fect, since it stim­u­lates kid­ney re­cep­tors to in­crease urine out­put,” Rux­ton ex­plains. In high doses (200 to 500 mil­ligrams, which is more than you would get from a typ­i­cal 10-ounce cup of cof­fee) caf­feine in pill form can have a di­uretic ef­fect, caus­ing you to lose a lit­tle ex­tra fluid ev­ery time you uri­nate, con­tribut­ing to de­hy­dra­tion.

But most caf­feinated drinks such as tea have enough wa­ter in them to make up for this mi­nor fluid loss. “In a study [in men] pub­lished in 2011 in the Bri­tish Jour­nal of Nutri­tion, we found that up to six mugs of tea per day pro­duced sim­i­lar ef­fects as wa­ter when hy­dra­tion mark­ers in blood and urine were mea­sured,” Rux­ton says. An­other study pub­lished Jan­uary 2014 in the jour­nal PLOS

One, found no dif­fer­ence in hy­dra­tion on days when peo­ple drank four cups of cof­fee com­pared to days when they drank the same amount of wa­ter. In other words, drink­ing caf­feinated bev­er­ages did not cause the dras­tic de­hy­dra­tion that was pre­vi­ously thought to oc­cur.

We’ll Drink to That

How­ever, if you reg­u­larly drink caf­feinated bev­er­ages — or use caf­feine in other ways — you’ll be less af­fected than those who never con­sume the stuff.

Ul­ti­mately, it’s the caf­feine-to-wa­ter ra­tio that de­ter­mines whether a bev­er­age will de­hy­drate you, says Rux­ton. “An espresso — high caf­feine, small vol­ume — is more likely to de­hy­drate than a large mug of tea with milk — low caf­feine, large vol­ume,” she says. “How­ever, caf­feinated drinks are mostly wa­ter, which off­sets the ef­fect of caf­feine.”

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