16 Foods and Drinks to Avoid When You’re Dehydrated
With temperatures rising, your body needs more water and key electrolytes to carry out its normal functions. According to the Mayo Clinic, dehydration occurs when you lose more fluid than you take in.
But dehydration doesn’t just occur because you’re not drinking enough H2O. It can also happen if you eat or drink certain foods and beverages that have a diuretic effect, meaning they help your body get rid of fluids. To ensure you’re properly hydrated, exercise caution with these foods and drinks that can cause dehydration—especially when it’s particularly hot out.
Here are the 16 foods and drinks you should avoid when you’re dehydrated.
Sipping on a fizzy soda might seem refreshing on a hot day, but research from the World Health Organization shows that sugar in soft drinks (especially diet beverages) can have a hypernatremic effect on the body. In translation, it means that it actually draws water from your tissues and depletes your body of fluids. Moreover, the caffeine in sodas acts as a mild diuretic and causes you to urinate more frequently. A study from PLOS One also shows that drinking chilled carbonated beverages can give you a false impression that it’s hydrating when, in fact, it’s robbing you of H2O.
Much like soda, commercial fruit juices (which typically have loads of empty calories) can promote dehydration. Fruit juice and fruit drinks are also high in carbohydrates, which can upset your stomach and exacerbate dehydration symptoms. For guidance on how to snack on fruit the healthy way, check out 20 Most Filling Fruits and Veggies—Ranked.
Don’t let the “water” in “coconut water” fool you. Not only do many varieties of the trendy drink contain H2O-draining added sugar, but research has also shown that coconut water is less hydrating than regular water. According to a study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, coconut water isn’t as hydrating as water during exercise. The study also suggests that because of coconut water’s bitter taste, people are less inclined to drink it post-workout compared to straight-up water.
While enjoying a cup or two of joe in the morning is fine, overdoing it on the caffeine can pose a dehydration risk. Per a French study, caffeine has a well-known diuretic effect and can inhibit sodium reabsorption. So you can still enjoy your latte, but be sure to limit your consumption to 400 mg of caffeine daily and avoid using sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Tea has a wealth of health-boosting polyphenols and antioxidants, but detox varieties are actually dehydrating and pose certain health risks. Many of these detox teas that purport to flatten your belly and drop pant sizes contain senna leaves—which have a laxative effect. If you’ve been drinking these teas to help you lose weight, talk to your doctor or dietitian about a safer, more effective way to shed pounds.
A Red Bull might sound like a great idea after a late night out, but energy drinks like these often do more harm than good. According to a study in Amino Acids, energy drinks have fluid-robbing effects. Research in the International Journal of Health Sciences shows that they can cause gastrointestinal distress when drinking it during a workout.
There’s a reason you experience so many of those bathroom breaks in between drinks and wake up with a hangover after a night of revelry. Alcohol is a natural diuretic and causes your body to squeeze out water from your cells. Although it might be tempting to enjoy a few beers outside on a hot summer day, sweating coupled with imbibing will dehydrate you even faster. To avoid getting dehydrated, be sure to sip on water in between alcoholic drinks.
The rumors are true: Asparagus makes your pee smell strange and it also makes you pee more often. According to a study in the West Indian Medical Journal, the amino acid in asparagus called aspargine can cause your body to release water. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you should stop eating asparagus altogether. It’s an excellent source of fiber and antioxidants, after all. However if you suffer from kidney stones, the National Institutes of Health recommends avoiding the spring veggie.
RELATED: Your guide to the anti-inflammatory diet that heals your gut, slows the signs of aging, and helps you lose weight.
Artichoke has been used traditionally as a medicinal herb for its diuretic and digestive properties. In a review in the Monaldi Archives For Chest Disease, researchers found that the veggie has diuretic effects on both animals and humans, though it’s unlikely that consuming normal amounts of artichoke will dehydrate you. The veggie has actually been shown to have numerous benefits, including preventing cardiovascular disease and detoxing the liver.
As with several foods on this list, beets have diuretic properties. While eating them in moderation likely won’t leave you dehydrated, the ruby-hued veggies help flush the liver. They’re also high in potassium, which helps eliminate fluid in the body.
Eating high-protein meals is a great way to stay full and energized while building muscle, but overdoing it on protein can lead to dehydration. Researchers from the University of Connecticut’s Department of Nutritional Sciences enlisted five student-athletes to consume low, moderate, and high amounts of protein for four weeks at a time. The hydration status of the athletes was evaluated bi-weekly. Researchers found that when athletes consumed the highest amount of protein, their kidney function became abnormal, but when they cut back on protein, their kidney function returned to normal. This isn’t reason enough to nix a protein-rich diet, but it shows that you should increase your water intake when you up your protein consumption.
Cured meats are dehydrating because they’re loaded with salt and sugar that’ll suck water right out of your body. For example, just one serving of Boar’s Head chorizo contains 520 mg of sodium—over a third of the daily recommendation for salt. If you want to curb your sodium intake, eliminate cured meats from your diet and stick to lean, grass-fed meat instead.
Another salty item people often overlook is soy sauce. The popular sushi condiment contains a whopping 879 mg of sodium per each serving, so you could easily hit your daily salt quota with soy sauce alone. Ingesting too much salt not only leads to dehydration, but it also puts you at risk for high blood pressure.
Fried foods are hidden sources of salt, and when you pair them with sugary condiments, they become the ultimate dehydrating duo. Like a bad chain reaction, they’ll signal to your body that you need more fluids, and you’ll be tempted to order a soda at the drive-thru. So make sure you have some water on hand if you’re planning to treat yourself to some French fries or chicken nuggets.
Mindlessly noshing on potato chips, popcorn, or pretzels can take a toll on your weight-loss efforts, not to mention your hydration levels. The saltier the snacks, the thirstier you’ll be. Instead of reaching for salty snacks, swap them for veggies and hummus. They have the same wonderful crunch and are packed with satiating fiber and protein, so you’ll stay fuller longer.
According to the American Heart Association, more than 75 percent of the sodium in the average American diet comes from processed foods. Frozen dinners are some of the worst offenders. It’s best to just steer clear of them (or know which of the best frozen foods aren’t so bad for you).