On Coffee (And Caffeine)

The NY Times published an article titled Sorting Out Coffee?s Contradictions the other day. Here were my notable takeaways:

  • On the myth of dehydration: “studies reviewed last year found that people who consumed drinks with up to 550 milligrams of caffeine produced no more urine than when drinking fluids free of caffeine. Above 575 milligrams, the drug was a diuretic.”
  • On mental benefits: “At consumption levels up to 200 milligrams (the amount in about 16 ounces of ordinary brewed coffee), consumers report an improved sense of well-being, happiness, energy, alertness and sociability”
  • On being an exercise supplement: “caffeine enhances endurance in aerobic activities and performance in anaerobic ones, perhaps because it blunts the perception of pain and aids the ability to burn fat for fuel instead of its carbohydrates.”

There’s a bit more here.

That at normal or even high levels of consumption (575mg of caffeine is a lot) coffee is not a diuretic, acting instead like water in hydrating your body, hits on a point Mark Sisson has made. I had previously wondered at what consumption levels dehydration kicks in, so this is good to know.

It also hammers home something I’ve realized in the past few weeks as I have drastically reduced my “raw water” consumption, which is that even if I’m drinking beer, tea and coffee only, I am still managing plenty of hydration.

It also makes me wonder if overhydrating can have a negative side-effect, which is that your body becomes dependent on needing higher levels of water consumption. The reason I ask this is because I have previously drank 100 oz. of water every day (or more) plus all the water I got through food. On nights that I imbibed a bit of alcohol, I found hangovers to be stronger, which I also chalked up to the dehydration. Yet now, I’ve cut way back on my daily water intake and any hangover I’ve experienced seems less severe. How does this make sense? The closest thing I can liken it to (oddly enough) is becoming dependent on chapstick from overuse.

This isn’t exactly a rigorous experiment, but it’s still interesting.

  1. js290

    I don’t think good ole H20 has any calories. In fact, if you look up the definition of calorie, you can be burning calories while consuming water.

  2. Justin

    Yeah H2O has no calories, of course (As our bodies can’t burn water for energy) and I imagine there would have to be some caloric load on your digestive system/kidneys to dispose of extra water/push all that liquid around. Probably small though.

    Anyway, I like plain-jane water plenty. Just interesting that you can get hydrated on coffee, which is commonly believed to be a diuretic (a dehydrator), when it’s actually only a diuretic when consumed at high levels.

    It’d kind of like beer, I imagine. Drinking a beer probably hydrates you. Drinking a shot of whiskey probably does not (but it still may not dehydrate — I don’t know the comparable point at which alcohol content becomes a dehydrator).

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