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6 Worst Drinks That Make You Dehydrated, Say Dietitians

Hydrate responsibly when you reach for these beverages

With summer right around the corner, the time has come for outdoor picnics, barbecues, pool parties, and every other warm-weather activity imaginable. With the sun bearing down on you, nothing sounds quite as tempting as a cool lemonade, ice-cold beer, or even a classic iced tea. While all of these drinks capture the spirit of the season, they might not actually rehydrate you. A combination of caffeine, sugar, and alcohol can keep you from properly getting the water your body desperately needs, and certain drinks can actually make you feel that much more hydrated.

Even if you stay indoors, certain popular drinks can sap the water right out of your body. We caught up with a handful of dietitians to track down the very worst offenders out there. You might never see these beverages in the same light after discovering which drinks can make you feel that much more thirsty.

If you really want to stay hydrated, make sure to eat your water too. Grab some of the 23 Water-Rich, Hydrating Foods and keep your cool when relaxing outside or working out.


alcoholic drinks group of people

Everyone has heard that alcohol drains the water right out of your body, and as such, beer, wine, and liquor rank as some of the most dehydrating drinks out there.

"Alcohol is a diuretic," says Natalie Clair, RD, LD at Recovery Works Martinsville. "It causes the body to remove fluids from the blood much more quickly than other liquids. Alcohol interferes with the mechanism that regulates water in our bodies."

"In general, a shot of liquor, one beer, or a glass of wine will make your body excrete an extra 120 milliliters of urine in addition to your normal urine output," Clair continues. "For example, when you drink 200 milliliters of water, your body will excrete 200 milliliters of urine. However, when you consume 200 milliliters of beer, your body will excrete 320 milliliters of urine. If consuming alcohol, it is important to drink plenty of water to maintain proper hydration status."


woman drinking soda

When the weather gets warm and you want to cool down, a cold soda sounds like it could hit the spot. If you need to stay hydrated, you might want to think again.

"Drinking sugary, sweetened beverages can actually make you feel more thirsty than normal," says Clair. "Naturally, it will increase your blood sugar levels. When our blood sugar or blood glucose rises, the body will draw water from our cells in an attempt to restore normal blood glucose levels. When the cells lose water, the brain gets signaled that the body needs more water, causing increased thirst. Sugar increases the body's water needs in order to metabolize the sugar. While these drinks may taste refreshing, remember they can contribute to dehydration."

If you do reach for a soda, make sure it's one of 25 Healthy, Low-Sugar Soda Alternatives.



The sugar inside a soda can make you feel that much more thirsty, but this effect extends to all soft drinks. "Even fruit-based juices can be dehydrating," says Mariam Eid, RD, LD. "Some people may be surprised to learn of the dehydrating effects of fruit juices. While they may be hydrating in smaller quantities, overconsuming fruit juices can be stressful to the body. When fruits are processed down to fruit juices, a majority of their nutrients are stripped and the sugars remain."

"These sugars act similarly to regular table sugar in the blood," Eid continues. "When sugary drinks are consumed in excess, the sugar quickly lands in the bloodstream and skyrockets your blood sugar. This rapid rise in blood sugar alarms the body to turn on all blood sugar-lowering mechanisms, including the urinary excretion of sugar. This is especially true if you drink sugar on an empty stomach. If you enjoy fruit juices, such as orange or apple juice, I encourage you to consume about 4 to 8-ounces with meals and consider diluting it with unsweetened sparkling water."



"Drinking coffee in the afternoon could be doing more to your body and health than just keeping you up in the evenings,"says  Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD at Balance One Supplements. "Coffee at this time of day typically means an increased consumption of the beverage, which could also be dehydrating you."

Not enjoying an afternoon pick-me-up in the form of a coffee sounds terrible, but you can end up mitigating some of the water loss.

"Coffee and caffeine get a bad rap for leading to this state of dehydration, but the key factor is water intake," Best continues. "Anyone considering reducing their coffee or caffeine intake should first evaluate the amount of water they consume. A safe and healthy balance can be struck between the two beverages. As a rule of thumb to prevent dehydration you will want to drink a cup of water with every cup of coffee or caffeinated beverage."

While coffee has the potential to leave you feeling that much more thirsty, it's not all bad. Some have asked if Coffee is Just as Healthy as Tea, and a lot can be said for the drink.

Energy drinks

energy drinks

Just like soda, energy drinks pack in the sugar, but also double up on caffeine and other chemicals that can end up dehydrating you in the long run.

"According to the CDC, energy drinks can not only cause adverse health effects but can be dehydrating, too," says Johna Burdeos, RD. "That's because energy drinks typically contain high amounts of caffeine, sugar, and other chemicals and additives. In a recent systemic review and meta-analysis published in Sports Health, researchers looked at the potential for adverse effects of energy drink consumption. They reviewed 32 studies with 96,549 participants and found several adverse events including increased urination—which was the most frequently reported kidney-related event."

Iced tea

woman drinking iced tea

Nothing sounds as refreshing as drinking a tall, cool glass of iced tea on the porch during a hot summer day. While this mental image sounds amazing, the reality might leave you feeling more dried out than you anticipated.

"Drinks with sugar and caffeine will typically dehydrate you," says Shena Jaramillo MS, RD. "Some drinks people may not expect to dehydrate you are beverages like iced tea. These drinks are frequently associated with being "thirst quenchers" but in reality may lead to needing even more hydration."

If you love to get your iced tea from the store, make sure you stay away from The Unhealthiest Bottled Iced Teas on the Planet.

Erich Barganier
Erich Barganier is a health and food writer. Read more about Erich