Q and A

What type of fluid is best to drink to avoid dehydration? Also, is it best to avoid coffee and other caffeine-containing drinks?


Water is the first logical answer to the question of fluid replacement to prevent dehydration. However, during non-workout times of the day, the research on this topic suggests that most fluids are effective at rehydrating the body, even caffeine-containing beverages.

A while back, I reported that researchers at the University of Nebraska have shown that caffeine-containing beverages actually promote hydration and do not cause dehydration (thus dispelling the myth that caffeine-containing beverages cause dehydration). Their research showed that caffeine-containing beverages hydrate the body just as effectively as drinks that contain no caffeine. These researchers have recently completed another study that showed most non-alcoholic beverages will promote hydration.

This interesting research showed that subjects who drank water as their main fluid source achieved hydration levels that were similar to a group who drank any other beverages other than water during the day. Therefore, during the non-exercise hours of the day, it seems as though any liquid will hydrate your body, as long as you drink plenty of it. However, fluid consumption during exercise is a different story.

During exercise, the isotonic sports drinks (Gatorade and the like), have a definite advantage in their absorption speed. Their formulation ensures that the fluid empties from the stomach and enters the blood stream rapidly. Therefore, during a workout, isotonic sports-type drinks are probably a better choice. For all other periods of the day, most beverages will help prevent dehydration.

For all the facts about coffee & caffeine, click here