Your body is two-thirds water, so it is important to stay hydrated. You don’t have to just drink water, though. In fact, everything you drink contributes to your hydration levels to a greater or lesser degree. You even get water from the food you eat.
When you think of other beverages, however, you can’t just think of their hydration effect. Drinks other than water often contain calories, sugar, and/or caffeine. These things can impact on your health in other ways, such as contributing to weight gain, or damaging your teeth.
Water is the Best Choice
Water is undoubtedly the best drink for hydration. It contains no calories and doesn't damage your teeth. Even if you exercise, water is probably all you need to maintain a healthy level of hydration. You only need to consider energy drinks or hydration drinks if you do particularly strenuous activity for long periods of time. Water is fine for normal 30 to 60 minute workouts.
Of course, not many of us drink only water. That leaves the question – using water as a baseline, how good are other drinks at hydrating you? Here are details of some of the most common types of drink:
Tea and Coffee
Caffeine has a diuretic effect so many people believe tea and coffee is dehydrating. In fact, it is about as good as water at hydrating you, but only if consumed at normal levels. A normal level of caffeine is below 300mg of caffeine a day, which is about three normal size cups of coffee. Pregnant women should only consume 200mg - about two cups.
Other Hot Drinks
Drinks like herbal teas and hot chocolate are also hydrating, but many are high in sugar and calories.
Research has found that milk (full fat and semi-skimmed) is very good at hydrating you. In fact, milk is better at hydrating you than water because it is retained in the body for longer. In addition, milk provides essential nutrients including calcium, protein, and B vitamins. There is a downside, though. Your body is able to retain milk for longer than water because of the high calorie content. It is, therefore, hydrating, but should be consumed in moderation because of the other potential impacts on your health.
Like milk, fruit juices, including smoothies, give you nutrients. They are also hydrating and, again, the hydration effect is better than water. This is because of the high calorie content but there is another problem with fruit juices that means you should control the level of consumption – they have a high sugar content.
Soft drinks are hydrating, but many options contain high calories and high levels of sugar so can damage your health. You should moderate your consumption and opt for low and zero sugar options.
Alcohol is one of the drinks that causes the most confusion when it comes to hydration. Firstly, alcoholic drinks contain water so they are hydrating. Drinks with high alcohol content, however, have increased diruetic effects so their impact on hydration is limited. Examples include spirits and wine.
As with the other options on this list, there are considerations other than hydration when considering alcoholic drinks. For example, many alcoholic drinks are high in calories and some are high in sugar, plus alcohol itself poses risks to your health.
The main reason that all drinks are hydrating is they all contain water. Full fat milk, for example, is 88 percent water. They can, therefore, be part of a moderated diet but with water at the centre of your hydration efforts.
Hydration Impact of Different Drinks*
Example: if user logs 100ml of water it will add 100ml towards your daily goal. If user logs 100ml of alcohol, it will add 50ml towards the daily hydration goal.
NOTE: although we did intensive research on this topic, always consider additional consultation with your health provider. WaterMinder is not a medical app and should not be used for medical purposes or to obtain specific hydration needs.