Thirsty? Beware: These Foods And Drinks Will Dehydrate You

According to a study by the Institutes of Medicine, 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. “Drink more water,” you may think–but hydration doesn’t rely on how much water you drink. It also stems from the foods and other beverages that you consume.

Your diet could be influencing your hydration, whether you know it or not. Some eating plans, such as a high-protein diet, can rob your body of water. Some trendy health drinks are less hydrating than water. When you’re thirsty, avoid these foods and beverages.

Coconut Water Isn’t All It’s Hyped Up To Be

A container holds bottles of coconut water.
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Rumor has it that coconut water is more hydrating than regular water, but experts aren’t convinced. In 2017, a study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism compared waters during exercise. Coconut water is not as hydrating as regular water, researchers confirmed.

If you’re looking for electrolytes, you’ll have better luck with a sports drink. Registered dietitian Andrea Giancoli says that coconut water has electrolytes, but it lacks carbs and sodium. You need these nutrients to rehydrate after a long workout, he told WebMD.

Too Much Protein, Too Little Water

An Antipasto meat platter is served with bread.
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Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Research has found that high-protein diets can dehydrate you. Research from the University of Connecticut studied low, medium, and high-protein diets. Participants on the high-protein diet were far more dehydrated than people on other diets. Perhaps this happens because of the nitrogen in protein.

Researchers discovered that high protein causes the kidneys to create more concentrated urine. Protein produces more nitrogen in the blood, which prompts the kidneys to work harder. If you’re going to eat a high-protein meal, drink plenty of water.

The Smelly Truth About Asparagus

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Asparagus doesn’t only make your urine smell–it also creates more of it. Asparagus has a unique amino acid called asparagine. According to ResearchGate, asparagine is a diuretic that can clean out the kidneys. Because it’s a vegetable, asparagus both supplies water and removes water.

On the flip-side, dietitian and nutritionist Monica Reinagel argues that it’s hard to become dehydrated from asparagus alone. Vegetables are naturally high in water, so you can’t go wrong with eating some fresh produce. But asparagus might not be peoples’ first choice.

Is Coffee As Dehydrating As Some People Say?

A customer carries a steaming cup of coffee at a cafe.
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Bryan Thomas/Getty Images

For years, experts have debated over how much coffee dehydrates people. According to Cleveland Clinic, caffeine is a mild diuretic that causes the body to lose water. But how much water do people lose from coffee?

Daniel Vigil, an associate clinical professor of family medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, says you don’t lose too much water. Your body still absorbs some water when you drink coffee. That said, if you’re already dehydrated, coffee isn’t the best choice. Opt for an electrolyte drink or plain water.

The Downside Of Low-Carb Diets

Tins of mints are advertised as low-carb.
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Although low-carb diets help some people shed weight, they also make people lose water. But how do carbs relate to fiber? According to researcher Dr. Stephen Sondike, most people get fiber from pasta and bread. When you cut out fiber, your body retains less water.

“The lower your carb intake, the greater your risk of dehydration, and subsequently the greater your need for water,” said Dr. Doris Pasteur, the director of the Nutrition Wellness program at Mt. Sinai. The solution? Eat more fiber, and drink more water!

Soda Is Bad For The Sugar, Not The Caffeine

A customer pours soda into a cup with a machine at a McDonald's.
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Mario Tama/Getty Images

Several experts have debated whether or not soda is dehydrating. While most discuss soda’s caffeine, the real danger is the sugar. In 2016, researchers from the American Physiological Society conducted an animal study on high-sugar sodas. The rats became more dehydrated after drinking soda, especially those with kidney damage.

The study’s authors did not hesitate to compare the findings to humans. “Our studies raise serious concerns for the common practice, especially among adolescents and young adults, to drink soft drinks as a means to quench thirst,” they wrote.

Why Canned Soup Ironically Dehydrate You

Tin can of carrot soup has a spoon in it.
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Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Canned foods are salt bombs in a container. To preserve the products, manufacturers add extra sodium. Harvard Health explains that salt absorbs liquids in the digestive tract. The result? You end up more dehydrated after eating canned foods than eating fresh foods.

Even water-filled foods, such as fruits and vegetables, can be less hydrating if they’re canned. You can remove some sodium by rinsing the food (depending on what it is). But in general, you shouldn’t resort to canned foods or soups if you’re feeling thirsty.

Why Detox Teas Are Worse Than Regular Teas

Various medicinal teas sit on a supermarket shelf.
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Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Most teas will hydrate you, but “detox,” “cleansing,” or “weight loss” teas may not. These teas mix caffeine with other substances to create a laxative effect. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database claims that these teas can cause diarrhea and dehydrate you.

Before you buy a detox tea, research the side effects. You might lose more water than weight. General practitioners Dr. Louise Newson adds that the FDA does not regulate these teas. If you want to rehydrate, aim for a tea that IS regulated–green teas, black teas, and herbals.

Parsley Makes You Pee

A chef garnishes chapulines with parsley.
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OMAR TORRES/AFP via Getty Images

Some people eat parsley as a garnish; others, as a tea. But many don’t know that parsley is a diuretic. In 2017, an American study determined that parsley creates more urine in the body. It also produces more highly-concentrated urine.

For this reason, many people drink parsley tea or supplements to heal kidneys or urinary tract infections. On a positive note, most people don’t eat enough parsley to become dehydrated. If you drink parsley tea or consume the capsules, you may want to drink more water.

Measure Soy Sauce Before Pouring

A chef portions soy sauce in a measuring spoon.
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Gregory Rec/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

As great as soy sauce tastes, use it sparingly. Soy sauce supplies a high amount of sodium, which drains the body of liquids. Registered dietitian Amy Shapiro emphasizes that salt can dry out the body.

If you consume enough soy sauce, you could end up in trouble. In 2013, a man was rushed to the hospital after eating too much soy sauce. He became so dehydrated that he suffered from an electrolyte imbalance. Fortunately, an average topping of soy sauce isn’t enough to harm you, especially if you drink water.

Another Reason To Drink Water During Happy Hour

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David Silverman/Getty Images

As you drink more, you’ll become more dehydrated. Alcohol is a diuretic that’s more intense than other drinks. For instance, ten grams of alcohol results in ten times more urine. That’s why some people get headaches (a common symptom of dehydration) after drinking.

According to a 2013 study in the journal Alcohol, even a moderate amount of alcohol can dehydrate you. Drinking water during happy hour isn’t just about staying sober. It will decrease the number of side effects and keep your body healthy.

The Side Effect Of Herbal Supplements

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Geography Photos/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Some herbal supplements can dehydrate you. Registered dietitian Jaime Mass says that some dietary supplements increase the amount of urine that the body produces. The least-hydrating herbs include celery seed, parsley, watercress, and dandelion.

Because these supplements are diuretics, doctors prescribe them to treat urinary tract infections, bloating, and kidney stones. If you don’t have any of these conditions, you may not want to take these capsules. According to TODAY, other herbal supplements, including chamomile, elderflower, and licorice, can increase your hydration.

Why Salty Chips Make You Thirsty

Potato chips are piled onto a plate at a Spanish Market.
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Salt-covered snacks, such as chips, will make you feel thirsty. According to the Texas Heart Institute, the body’s sodium concentrations rise when you become dehydrated. Adding salt causes the kidneys to remove more sodium through urine. In other words, if you eat chips while dehydrated, you’ll get worse.

Flavored chips have more sodium content than unflavored varieties. The National Academy of Sciences’ Food and Nutrition Board emphasizes that many chips have hidden salt. Most preservatives have sodium, so a bag of chips likely contains more salt than it lets on.

Energy Drinks Have Too Much Caffeine

Monster energy drink gets poured into a glass.
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Caffeine is a diuretic; it pushes the body to lose water. While most caffeinated drinks aren’t strong enough to dehydrate you, energy drinks are. Research in the journal Amino Acids found that energy drinks have a worse diuretic effect than other caffeinated drinks. In other words, they will dehydrate you more quickly, especially in hot weather.

Plus, some energy drinks market themselves as “hydrating.” When people don’t know that they should rehydrate after energy drinks, they’ll become more dehydrated, says nutritionist Beth Warren. Don’t make that mistake.

Don’t Eat Cured Meats When You’re Thirsty

A person holds a piece of dried beef.
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RODGER BOSCH/AFP via Getty Images

Cured meats are preserved with salt, which makes them dehydrating. Research in the Journal of Clinical Investigation determined that sodium messes with how the body regulates sugar. It causes the body to excrete more water, which you don’t need when you’re dehydrated.

Some cured meats have a 20% salt concentration since that kills bacteria. When meat gets smoked, it has less salt, but it’ll still be high in sodium. If you’re going to eat cured meats, drink more water or electrolyte-filled drinks.

Bouillon Cubes And Instant Ramen

Bouillon cubes are unwrapped.

Bouillon cubes are soup stocks that have been dried and compressed into a cube. The flavoring in instant ramen packets is bouillon. It instantly adds flavor to several dishes, but it comes with a price. Bouillon soups can be incredibly dehydrating.

“But it’s soup!” you may think. Not so fast: the sodium in bouillon cubes can rob the body of water, says registered dietitian Carol Aguirre. An average bouillon cube contains a teaspoon of salt, about 28 mg. To stay hydrated, you can flavor broth with herbs instead.

Don’t Choke On Artichokes

Purple artichokes are piled on top of each other.
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Emmanuele Contini/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In general, vegetables are filled with water. But some vegetables cause you to lose some water, too, and artichokes are one of these. In 2013, researchers determined that artichokes are a mild diuretic.

Artichoke’s diuretic abilities come with some health benefits. They clean the body’s toxins and add some vitamins and minerals. Realistically, artichokes have enough water to replenish the body, even if it causes you to lose some. But if you’re searching for hydrating vegetables, you may want to choose something else.

Another Reason To Skip Fried Food

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Laura Chase de Formigny for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Most people know that fried foods aren’t healthy, but many don’t know that they can dehydrate you. Registered dietitian Carol Aguirre told INSIDER that that fried foods could zap water from your body. The reason? Fried foods contain an egregious amount of sodium.

If you’ve ever felt thirsty after eating fried food, you now know why. According to Water Logic, sodium sucks water out of your cells. If you’re in a hot climate, the salt in fried meals could dangerously dehydrate you. Eat non-fried meats to stay hydrated.

Double-Check The Ingredients In Frozen Dinners

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Getty Images

Although frozen dinners are convenient, they are often preserved with salt. Registered dietitian Karen Collins says that an average TV dinner has 1,800 mg of sodium. That’s almost 80% of your daily recommended dose, and all of that salt at once can dehydrate you.

The good news: you can find low-sodium dinners that won’t zap the water in your body. Cleveland Clinic recommends searching for dinners with 600 mg of salt or less. Not only will this help your heart, but you’ll also have to drink less water afterward.

Don’t Pour Sugar Into Your Coffee Drinks

A barista mixes a matcha latte at a cafe.
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Steffi Loos/Getty Images

Sugary lattes and frappuccinos are the worst things you can drink while dehydrated. And it’s not because of the caffeine; it’s because of the sugar. Registered dietitian and nutritionist Amy Shapiro says that sugar causes the kidneys to overwork. The more your kidneys work, the more water you lose.

Medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay adds that sugar stops the body from fully absorbing water. Sweetened coffee drinks have a diuretic (caffeine) and a dehydrator (sugar). They are a recipe for disaster. If you want to hydrate with coffee, choose a black or iced coffee with cream.