Common Myth: Does Soda Actually Dehydrate you?

          To examine this myth regarding the hydrating effect of soda, you have to begin with analyzing what makes up soda. Essentially, soda is almost entirely simply carbonated water. So this begs the question: Does carbonated water hydrate equally or nearly equally to water? Could this be the source of some dehydration?

          The simply act of adding carbonation to water is simply aesthetic, and does not effect how the water is processed in your body. Your body easy removes the carbonation, and is left with just water.

So what else is in soda? The next big ingredient in sodas is sugar. Unlike carbonation, high sugar content does slow hydration. Your body needs more time to process these sugars, and therefore devotes some water away from other places in your body to break down the sugar. That being said, the effect is rather minimal. Take a look at Gatorade for instance. It prides itself as being one of the best ways to hydrate, as well as add electrolytes back into your body. However, Gatorade also has very high sugar content. Depending on the brand, Gatorade can be just as sugary as soda. But for the sake of argument, let’s consider diet soda. There is no sugar in diet sodas, only chemical sweeteners which have been shown to have no effect on hydration (showed through studies of low-calorie and zero-calorie flavored water).

Could dehydration stem from the sodium concentration in soda? The answer here is a simple no. Sodium helps your body retain water, and stay hydrated. However, sodas are very weak sources of sodium, so any effect either way is practically non-existent.

But there’s still a big elephant in the room when it comes to soda, and that’s the caffeine content. For years, experts were saying that caffeine acted as a diuretic in the body, causing you to urinate more fluid and therefore become less hydrated. However, real world studies have shown that caffeine has only a mild diuretic effect, similar to that of just plain water.

But logically, it is obvious that soda wouldn’t dehydrate you. For a fluid to dehydrate you, it would have to remove more from you then you add by actually drinking the fluid. So let’s look at diet coke for example. It has 45 mg of caffeine in it per 12 ounces. For diet coke to have a dehydrating effect, 45 mg of caffeine would have to remove more than 12 ounces of water from your body. This is obviously incorrect. To show this, let’s look at a 12 ounce Starbucks coffee, which contains 260 mg of caffeine, or about 6 times as much as a same size diet coke. If the amount of caffeine in a diet coke was capable of dehydrating you, imagine what the coffee would do to you. If this were true, then you would lose 60 ounces of water per cup of coffee. That means for every two coffees you drink, the caffeine would remove a gallon of water from your body. Everyone knows that person who drinks over 10 cups of coffee a day, yet you don’t see them peeing out over 5 gallons of water. Obviously the argument that soda actually dehydrates you is ridiculous.

I believe what people mean to say is that soda simply doesn’t hydrate you as much as pure water. This is probably true. The caffeine content combined with the sugar could somewhat lower the hydrating effect. That being said, it is ignorant to claim that soda dehydrates you. In reality, the hydrating effect of diet soda compared with that of water is so minimally different that there is no point in actually distinguishing the two. In fact, because people are more likely to drink larger amounts of soda that water due to its good taste, soda often allows people to hydrate better than pure water.

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48 thoughts on “Common Myth: Does Soda Actually Dehydrate you?

  1. if you get extremely high levels of sodium it can cause water to leave your cells due to osmotic pressure but especially given its normal function to help retain water you would need absurdly high levels of sodium before that would happen. not something any thinking person will get from soda. I’d imagine if you did drink enough soda to get your sodium that high the water would be doing more damage than the sodium

  2. Soda has no vitamins and minerals. That’s a pretty big item missing from this. For your body to process soda it has to draw these vitamins/minerals out of what’s already in your body. So in affect is does have a negative overall affect on the body.

    As far as hydration goes it will hydrate, but not near as well as straight water would.

  3. Awesome article, I found it a very intelligent fact filled explanation of a common misnomer, while maintaining an excellent and interesting read. Thank you very much.

  4. Interesting points. Thanks for the research you did on this. One point of clarification you might add is where you mention Gatorade. I was confused at “Depending on the brand, Gatorade can be just as sugary as soda.” I think you mean to say that sports drinks can be just as sugary as soda, but I’m not sure whether you’re saying gatorade is one of those brands or not.

  5. this is a bias article. the author is obviously a cocacola drinker and is trying to rationalize putting junk his body… mcdonalds is food and when you eat it its not taking food out of your body too. ridiculous. read labels, look at what youre putting inside you.
    professional sports trainers are always giving their athletes soda pop before and during those big games to hydrate. wait, no, they are not.

    this ones my fave- “soda often allows people to hydrate better than pure water”, no water is the best form of hydration and that is a fact… keep playing with words tho and you can get the dumb ones to believe your lies. youre probably a firm believer of de-population as well. good luck with all that lowlife.

    • He’s not saying soda is good for you, just that it doesn’t dehydrate you like the common belief is. Also when he says “soda often allows people to hydrate better than pure water” what he is saying is that people are more likely to drink soda (because of the taste) than water, so therefore drinking more soda will hydrate you more than drinking less water. It’s ok that you have terrible reading comprehension, but getting angry at someone for a post probably isnt healthy.

      • i fully agree with you………..i worked in food research for more than 25 years….John

    • I looked it up just now, he believes there is a secret plan to depopulate the world with vaccines or some other great idea. Aside from calling him crazy and stupid you haven’t actually addressed anything he said.

      I guess I’m just stuck on exactly what kind of insane you are.

    • By far, this is the most classic case of taking something out of context and being an idiot with it… You don’t drink soda before a game because it has caffeine in it, which often leads to crashing. this article is far from biased, in fact, I’d have to wager and say it’s nearly 100 percent true. Soda will hydrate more than pure water based on the fact that pure water taste like shit compared to soda, so you’re far more likely to drink much more soda in a given instance than water. To scale, pure water clearly hydrates more.
      And if you’re smart enough, why don’t you read the title of the site? Does soda Dehydrate you… Based on your example, it’s the equivalent of asking “Does McDonalds make you starve?” And the same thing can actually be said: Your liable to last longer on a meal of McDonalds due to the fact that people are much more likely to eat more McDonalds than they would say… carrots. Hell, if I ate 3 carrots, i’d still be hungry. If I ate 3 McDoubles, I would be down for the count for the next 3 hours. Your entire post is biased and moot. Biased articles are written by people that aren’t avid fans of the topic just as much as the fans are. So suck on them apples, lowlife.

    • Wrong here. As a former Division 1 athlete, I can tell you coke, pepsi and oranges are highly consumed at half time of games in the South where it can be very hot.

  6. Thanks for writing this. I can’t believe how many people claim that soda dehydrates your body, and it simply isn’t true. Now I can refer them to this blog post so they know it’s not just me.

  7. Great goods from you, man. I have understand your
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  8. while this article is exactly what i was looking for as i want it to be a myth, i’ve read many other articles and accounts from studies on either side. similar to the author, i’d like my soda drinking to be justified but all i know for sure is how i feel. simply drinking soda has never made me feel re-hydrated. i will most likely continue to drink the stuff because i love the taste regardless if that’s the only positive it does for me. but from now on, i will consume with at least a 1:1 ratio. 12oz of soda followed by at least 12 oz of pure water prior to having another.

  9. Thank you for writing this. If soda dehydrates a person, and dehydration can kill -my brother should have been dead by dehyrdation years ago -me too come to think of it. Soda is all he drinks, he won’t touch water, milk, juice, alcohol, gatorade, it’s soda, soda, soda.

    The stuff isn’t good for him, and he might die from his constant drinking of it, but he’s not going to be dying of dehydration caused by soda consumption.

    • also caffeine is a diuretic, sugar is a dehydrator, distilled water can leach minerals. pro tip: drink 4 bottles of water over the course of the day then drink a coke. observe the irregular urination patterns. same thing happens with alcohol. if the confectionary beverage requires more fluid to digest it than it supplies, net water loss occurs. soda is delicious, but to believe its hydrating? take a nutrition class. the blog bias is beyond me

      • also gatorade is meant for heavy exertion rehydration, hence the high sugars (electrolytes). gatorade is advised to be used with water. coke is sugary for taste, not to replenish or balance electrolytes. im an exercise science major and my stepmother is an R.D., just throwing that out.

      • If you are an exercise science major, you might want to check your information. Electrolytes in gatorade are sodium and potassium, not sugars, seeing as our bodies lose sodium and potassium when sweating.

        “Electrolyte levels are kept constant by our kidneys and various hormones – even when our bodies trigger changes. When we exercise we sweat and lose electrolytes, mainly sodium and potassium. To maintain electrolyte concentrations of our body fluids constant these electrolytes must be replaced. Fresh fruits and vegetables are good sources of sodium and potassium and replace lost electrolytes. Excess electrolyte levels in our blood are filtered out by our kidney.”

        http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/153188.php

        The more you know.

  10. I would like to point out that one of the arguments in here is a red herring. The “Take a look at Gatorade for instance. It prides itself as being one of the best ways to hydrate, as well as add electrolytes back into your body. However, Gatorade also has very high sugar content” comment. Just because something prides itself on something, doesn’t mean it actually DOES it. Salt water can make you feel hydrated, and make your body act more hydrated for a short amount of time, but then it relapses as the salt fully enters into your system. Gatorade prides itself on being a SPORTS DRINK. To make you more hydrated for a SPORTS GAME. This is VERY short term (usually around an hour) and the long-term hydrating effects are not cared about for the purposes of Gatorade, just the short term effect.

    • also just about everything else he/she said was wrong. The reason its dehydrating is not because 45mg of caffeine outdoes 12 oz of “water”. It’s partially carbonic acid which robs you of necessary micronutrients as well as the fact that youre drinking insta-absorbed sugar.
      AND SODA DEFINITELY DOESNT ALLOW PEOPLE TO HYDRATE “BETTER” BECAUSE OF ITS GOOD TASTE LMFAO

  11. I’d never heard of this before now. Leads one to ponder who started a myth like this. Anti-soda luddites? Water Nazis? The world may never know.

  12. The oral treatment for cholera (which results in diarrhea and severe dehydration) is water with both sugar and salt. The brush border of the intestines is permeable to water. It doesn’t mater what solutes the water has in it… it’s going to cross.

  13. Before coming to a conclusion from only this article on the effects of soda and dehydration… I suggest reading multiple sources so that you receive extra amount of sources! From what I read about this article, it’s implying that because a soda has water in it, it is hydrating. Also, it implies, no actually states, that sodium and caffeine are minimally correlated with dehydration! Anyone into Biology 100? Hypotonic and Hypertonic solutions! Drinking vast amounts of sodium/sugar would literally strip the water out of your cells. This would seem to do more harm then good. Can’t forget the lack of vitamins; the lack of vitamins would lead to a large number of mL of water to undergo numerous chemical reactions from which we get no benefit… Correct me if I’m wrong.

    • This is the question: Does drinking soda hydrate your body by adding any amount of water to it? The answer: Yes, it does. The question is not “Is pop healthy to drink?” or “Is pop a good source?”. It is “Does pop dehydrate you?” The answer is a simple no, you cannot add water to your body without hydrating yourself. For proof, I’ve gone an entire day without drinking pure water: i had pop… that’s it. Granted, it was a bitch to get to sleep, but I did not suffer from dehydration. Granted, I had huge quantities of it (it was a long party) but still, did not suffer. Now, I’d have other concerns if I had continued on like that, by dehydration is not one of them.

  14. The problem with the internet is anyone can post nonsense like this as if it is fact. Perhaps if the author had posted about his/her experience and given an opinion rather than a declaration of truth it would be less damaging. I suggest you and anyone interested searches for some peer reviewed literature on the subject before making an assertion. To begin with, I would do some research on caffeine. That “mild” diuretic effect, which you claim has the same effect on the body as water. Do a little research on caffeine half life. Perhaps then you will begin to see it has more than just an instant effect. It can last for up to 12 hours, which absolutely causes the body to lose more water than is gained by your standard can of sugary soda. You also make no mention of refined sugar’s disruptive effect on metabolism and digestion which is linked to the subject at hand. Nor do you note the mind altering effects of caffeine, which play haywire with a lot of the bodies system. Please do some proper research in future before posting dangerous and misleading articles. It’s people’s health you are screwing with here. Not just your own.

    • From http://www.snopes.com/medical/myths/8glasses.asp:

      Regular coffee and tea drinkers become accustomed to caffeine and lose little, if any, fluid. In a study published in the October issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, researchers at the Center for Human Nutrition in Omaha measured how different combinations of water, coffee and caffeinated sodas affected the hydration status of 18 healthy adults who drink caffeinated beverages routinely.

      “We found no significant differences at all,” says nutritionist Ann Grandjean, the study’s lead author. “The purpose of the study was to find out if caffeine is dehydrating in healthy people who are drinking normal amounts of it. It is not.”

      The same goes for tea, juice, milk and caffeinated sodas: One glass provides about the same amount of hydrating fluid as a glass of water. The only common drinks that produce a net loss of fluids are those containing alcohol — and usually it takes more than one of those to cause noticeable dehydration, doctors say.

  15. The people of this world are voting by their actions that soda is hydrating. If, after a can of the stuff or a big-gulp they felt strung out and dessicated instead of refreshed soda drinking would have dissapearred long ago.

    • they felt strung out and dessicated… that’s why i am drinking a can right now. helps with my insomnia. coffees aftertaste is annoying. its legal-er then weed and i refuse to take any pills.
      good night

  16. So I feel coke is dehydrating me and I am going to limit it to like a glass a day. I am going to drink water otherwise and will report back as to effects, side or otherwise. Sometimes too much water can be a problem, so not too much of that either. Will report back. I am not endorsing or deterring anyone from drinking pop, I just feel I am having problems from it so time to try water.

  17. I know this is not a good thing but I cant remember drinking any water in the last 3 weeks. I drank mountain dew and coke. If pop dehydrates you don’t you think I should be dead by now. actually now that I think about It I drank a couple glasses of apple cider last night, but still to say that pop/coffee dehydrates you is ridiculous. I also agree about your statement that “soda often allows people to hydrate better than pure water” because if I had to drink water all day I probably wouldn’t drink more than 1 glass a day.

    I was watching letterman tonight and they were supporting Michele Obama’s new program (I think it was called drink up) and she said that pop/coffee dehydrates you, and I know many more people that believe that too.
    So I want to give someone an opportunity (including Michele Obama) to prove it. If anyone can find documented proof that pop or anything else discussed in this article dehydrates you email it to me and I will spread it across the internet.
    Email: demandzm2008@hotmail.com

  18. Pingback: Vaping and hydration

  19. First of all let me say that I do not endorse relying on soda for hydration. However I have spent the past five years drinking nothing but sprite soda. Sprite does not have caffeine but it does the most sugar from sodas, 38mg. I have not seen a doctor to evaluate my total health, though in that entire time I suffered with extreme ingrown toenail infections on both toes that would not heal. In addition extreme excema like skin condition that is itchy. Also brittle teeth, my front teeth have little holes and one is chipped. I lost a tooth after it became loose and simply fell off when I chewed too hard. I’ve also began losing hair and my scalp is extremely itchy at all times. Rapid heart rate, shortness of breath and really bad constipation have been a part of my daily life. If the alternative is not drinking anything at all I am a little better off but is it worth it ? I am now down to a soda a day and am drinking a little water each day. If you want to know and feel how vital water is and how quickly it works in your body, try drinking soda only for 5 years first. Remember thirst is a privilege if you quench it with soda you’re body will simply not rely on it to get you to drink water and begin extreme measures to keep you alive. All the work of keeping you pretty, teeth, skin, hair have to be put on hold. But you will live even as you drink that non dehydrating soda.

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