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Water Is Not the Most Hydrating Drink, According to Research

It is hard to think that anything else other than water could be the most hydrating drink. You’d even think sports drinks would come in a close second, because of how they are advertised. But surprisingly, a study found that the most hydrating drinks are not still water or sports drinks. In fact, these 2 are only the 9th and 10th most hydrating drinks, and even cola is more hydrating than they are!

We at Bright Side took a sip of this surprising finding to know which drinks would be best for us when our throats are dry.

Water helps our joints work better, helps us maintain a healthy temperature, and nourishes our brain. Since we lose about 70-100 oz of water every day from sweating, urinating, and even breathing, we need to replace this lost fluid. Yet water is not the most hydrating drink for us, according to a study done in the UK by Ronald J. Maughan and his team.

Water is not as hydrating as we thought.

The researchers tested 72 healthy, physically active men, from ages 18-35. Each participant drank still water and 3 of the drinks (aside from still water) in the pictures below.

Ranked from the most hydrating to the least hydrating:

The volume of their urine was then calculated and compared to see how all 13 drinks rank in hydration. The results showed that drinks with sugar, fat, and protein do better than water at keeping us hydrated for longer.

Skim milk is the new “water.”

Among all 13 drinks, skim milk appeared to be the most hydrating, beating even oral rehydration solutions (ORS), sports drinks, and water. This is because it contains sugar lactose, sodium, some protein, and fat which help slow our need to urinate, hence keeping us hydrated for longer. In second place, ORS which are usually used to treat diarrhea also contain water-absorbing ingredients such as sugar, sodium, and potassium.

Coffee is probably not the best idea when you’re thirsty.

On the other end of the spectrum, coffee and lager are not as hydrating as water. They are the only 2 drinks tested that did worse than water in hydrating our body. Alcohol and about 2-3 cups of coffee will cause us to lose more fluid, which means they are not the drinks to go for when you are thirsty. “Strong alcoholic drinks will dehydrate you,” says Maughan.

Too much sugar can be risky.

From this study, beverages with a high sugar content, like orange juice and Coca-Cola, appeared to be more hydrating than water. However, too much sugar can expose you to health risks like diabetes, weight gain, and heart disease. Dietitian Melissa Majumdar argued that though sugary drinks can remain in the body longer, water from the body will be used to process them. This means that juice and soda can actually be less hydrating.

Did this discovery make you want to change the drink you bring when you go for a run or exercise next? Or did it justify your love for beverages other than water?