Over the years, you may have grown to believe that coffee is a diuretic—like so many coffee enthusiasts. After all, shortly after a cup (or two) of your favorite morning brew, you have increased sensation and need to visit the restroom.
Without a doubt, you’ve probably further believed this to have a dehydrating effect on your body. But now you’re probably considering a shift to decaf coffee, and you want to know, “Does decaf coffee dehydrate?”
Great question! To answer it, perhaps, let’s first clarify some basics.
Definition of Diuretic
A diuretic causes the increased passing of urine. Any substance—whether food, drink, or medication—that is diuretic increases your urination cycle.
How Does Decaf Coffee Differ from Regular Coffee?
Any coffee lover will tell of the huge difference between regular coffee and decaf coffee. Their obvious differentiator is caffeine content.
Decaffeinated coffee—often shortened as decaf—is made with typical coffee beans which have had at least 97% of their caffeine removed. The name, however, is deceiving—it’ll make you think decaf coffee is entirely caffeine-free. That’s further from the truth as an 8 oz (240 ml) cup of decaf contains 0-7 mg of caffeine (3 mg on average). A dry package of decaf coffee, according to USDA, can contain 0.10 percent of caffeine.
Although decaf coffee contains antioxidants, they aren’t as many as those contained in regular coffee. Both regular and decaf coffee lose antioxidant compounds during roasting. However, decaf coffee bean undergoes further processing (through water, carbon dioxide, or other organic solvents) losing more antioxidants—approximately up to 15%. As a result, decaf coffee has fewer chlorogenic, polyphenols, chlorogenic, and hydrodynamic acids. This means that its taste and flavor become a little milder, and its color may change, depending on the brewing method.
Is Coffee a Diuretic?
Even with the controversy surrounding this question, most studies will agree that coffee is a mild diuretic—the caffeine component in coffee is the main culprit here. It takes more than a cup of caffeinated coffee to experience the diuretic effects.
According to studies, it takes as much as 360 mg of caffeine to have a diuretic effect on the body. Simply put, an average 8 oz cup (240 ml) of coffee contains 70 to 140 mg (95 mg on average) of caffeine, depending on the roast and brew. That means at 2 cups of coffee in a day, you’re most likely to start experiencing the diuretic effect.
Does Coffee Dehydrate You?
Though caffeine is widely known for its effects on the brain, it affects the kidneys by increasing blood flowing to them, which spurs the release of more water in urine. However, as earlier noted, this only occurs in high doses. That doesn’t mean that all coffees will affect your urine levels in the same way. Different coffee varieties contain different amounts of caffeine. Brewed coffee, for instance, will contain an average of 95 mg of caffeine and instant coffee 30-90 mg of caffeine in an 8 oz cup of coffee. Expresso, on the other hand, will contain about 63 mg of caffeine in a shot (1-1.75 oz or 30-50 ml) of an expresso pack.
By encouraging more urine, you may automatically be quick to think that the diuretic compounds in caffeine affect your hydration status. Studies claim otherwise, especially for moderate coffee drinking.
A review of the impact of drinking 6.8 oz (200 ml) of water, high caffeine (537 mg caffeine), and lower caffeine coffee (269 mg caffeine) on 10 casual drinkers showed no signs of dehydration. From this research, drinking higher caffeine coffee caused a short-term diuretic effect while water and lower caffeine coffee were both hydrating.
Besides, multiple studies on the same show that moderate coffee consumption has the same hydrating effects as drinking water. In one study, where 50 heavy coffee drinkers consumed 26.5 oz (800 ml) of coffee daily for three days, results showed the coffee to be as hydrating as the same amount of water.
Other 16 studies showed that drinking 30 mg caffeine in a single sitting—3 cups of brewed coffee (750 ml)—increased urine by only 3.7 oz (109 ml), the same as consuming equal amounts of non-caffeinated beverages. In fact, coffee certainly looked like a lesser evil than the many soft and energy drinks in the market due to their high level of sugar and artificial ingredients.
Conclusively, most studies show that even if coffee makes you urinate more, its impact on dehydration is insignificant—as you don’t lose as much fluid as you drank.
Now that you know where coffee stands in dehydrating your body, here’s what that looks like with decaf coffee.
Is Decaf Coffee Diuretic?
Due to the low caffeine content, decaf coffee has no diuretic effects; it can equal water in how much it would make a person urinate.
Does Decaf Coffee Dehydrate You?
Decaffeinated coffee is believed not to cause dehydration to your body. But while it can be an excellent way to hydrate, it’s also recommended not to be your top source of hydration.
If you’ve consumed decaf coffee, you may be wondering why your mouth dries up after a cup of the coffee (which is why people think decaf coffee dehydrates); that is perhaps just a feeling and nothing about dehydration.
How Many Cups of Decaf Coffee Should You Drink in a Day?
Now you have the answer to the question, “Does decaf coffee dehydrate?” you might wonder how many cups you can safely drink in a day. After all, there are some potential side effects of decaf coffee. One of them is that decaffeinated coffee has a higher LDL cholesterol count. This is because the coffee bean that manufacturers prefer to use for decaf coffee contains more fat than regular beans.
Research by the Piedmont-Mercer Center for Health and Learning studied 187 people for three months. The first group consumed three to six cups of regular caffeinated coffee each day, the second group drank the same amount of decaf coffee, while the third group drank no coffee. After the three-month study, the researchers found that the non-esterified fatty acids (NEFAS) increased by 18 percent while the Apolipoprotein B (the protein linked with cholesterol and heart disease) increased by 8 percent for the decaf coffee drinkers. None of these components were present in the other two groups.
As you see, the answer to this question highly depends on the two risk factors. If you’re at a higher risk of heart problems or high cholesterol, perhaps you should limit your decaffeinated coffee intake.
That said, the conventional view of coffee being a diuretic is also changing. The brew is increasingly being counted as part of hydration for the day when taken in moderation. Indeed, the latest dietary guidelines in the U.S. increased daily caffeine intake to 400 mg a day for adults and is noted as an excellent source of potassium and magnesium as well as antioxidants—both decaf and regular coffee. Having said that, decaffeinated coffee can be an everyday drink without worrying about dehydrating your body; besides, the brew is also an excellent source of antioxidants like regular coffee.