Does Soda Cause Dehydration? Explore The Best Alternatives For Hydration

Dehydration is a health condition due to a lack of liquid. Some common symptoms are feeling incredibly thirsty, dry mouth, dizziness, headache, fatigue, and lesser urination. Usually, around 2.7 liters to 3.7 liters of fluid or plain water for hydration is required daily to prevent dehydration. But people often confuse plain fluid or water with options such as soda.

According to NCBI, 75% of Americans get dehydrated every day. This is because they quench their thirst mostly with sweet and carbonated drinks, lowering the intake of actual water.

But it is often noticed that after 10 minutes of gulping a bottle of soda down your throat, you will feel thirsty again. A professor of the Nutrition Department at the Boston University School of Medicine, Caroline Apovian, mentions several reasons why soda can dehydrate you instead of offering you the hydration you require.

What is Dehydration?

As the NHS explains very succinctly, dehydration is when your body loses more water than you take in. Dehydration can be caused by a variety of reasons such as too little fluid intake, excessive sweating, heavy exercise, and derangements in metabolism. 

Given that our bodies are 70% water and water plays a vital role in almost all chemical processes in our bodies, dehydration is a condition that must be treated swiftly lest it becomes life-threatening.  

Does Soda Contain Enough Water to Hydrate You?

Let’s get back to soda for a moment. It has always been said that soda is nothing but flavored, fizzy sugar water. So it ought to be good for dehydration right? All that sugar might not be doing us any favors but the water must surely be good for us.

The truth is more complex. 

Despite the seemingly copious amounts of caffeine and sugar, sodas are still 85-99% water. This means that most sodas do contain enough water to hydrate you. That means soda causes Dehydration.

If you need hydration, switch to a hydration drink such as Healthystripe hydration electrolyte powder instead. This drink provides basic hydration by providing you with the basic electrolytes that you may have lost during dehydration. It also contains added vitamins and minerals for an extra nutrition boost. So, the next time you feel dehydrated, reach out to a hydration powder instead of a can of soda.

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Does Soda Cause Dehydration?

While plain water is important in hydrating you, a little glucose will energize your body. On the contrary, a large portion of sugary drink, such as soda, acts as diuretics.

Diuretics are substances that cause dehydration by increasing urine secretion from the body. Beverages high in sugar, such as soda or other beverages such as caffeine or alcohol, are higher in diuretics, causing dehydration.

So, how does soda dehydrate you? It is possible through the osmosis process.

Cell membranes, blood vessels, and the gut are hydrated with fluid that combines water, nutrients, and electrolytes. When you consume any sugary beverage, such as soda, the sugar concentration gets higher than the cell fluids. As a result, fluid from cells drains into the bloodstream to restore balance in the system. Soon, the cells will send an alarm to the brain about the lack of fluid, and the brain leads to the symptoms of dehydration in the body.

Also, a sugary drink such as soda causes several other health concerns, such as obesity and diabetes, when consumed longer. World Health Organization stated these health concerns and urged to reduce soda or sugary drinks globally.

The Role of Sugar in Hydration

Indeed, sugar is often considered a villain that causes dehydration in the body. But nutritionists also state the benefits of a small amount of sugar in hydrating the body. Cells and blood vessels comprise a combination of water, nutrients, electrolytes, and mineral ions such as sodium, potassium, and calcium that produce electricity to send signals. Cells send signals through electrolytes for various muscle and nerve functioning throughout the body. Also, this process helps in water retention in the body.

Sugar, a glucose form, helps open the intestinal walls so that these mineral ions can get dissolved in the bloodstream quickly. This process helps in water retention and in maintaining the body’s hydration.

So, a contrasting question that comes up here is whether can soda hydrate you.

Well, only such sparkling water options with no added calories or sugar have a water content of about 85% to 99%, which helps quench your thirst and hydrate you.

How Much Soda is Too Much?

In an ideal world, we would not be drinking any soda. The literature is clear that the amount of sugar in sodas is simply not good for health. But hey! Who doesn’t give in to temptation from time to time? 

One can of soda per week is well within permissible limits. Still confused that soda causes dehydration.

However, you should be mindful of not exceeding the limit of more than 2 cans a day.

What are the Best Alternatives to Soda for Hydration?

While soda is not the worst option for hydration there are several better options that you can consider.

  • Water- The first item on our list should be no surprise. Water is the cheapest, most readily available, healthiest, and most natural option for hydration. When in doubt, stick to some good old H2O. Tap water also has small quantities of dissolved minerals that increase water absorption in the gut
  • Milk- Milk can be one of the best alternatives to soda, which is known to have higher hydrating benefits even than plain water. This is because sugar comprises sugar lactose along with some fat and protein. This combination helps slow fluid emptying from the gut cells, keeping the body hydrated for longer.
  • Tea- Tea has several health benefits and provides a soothing effect along with hydration
  • Coffee- Despite caffeine being a diuretic, coffee is a great hydration choice and has several positive effects on systemic health
  • Lemonade- Homemade lemonades are a refreshing and simple way to hydrate. They also provide Vitamin C
  • Sparkling Water- Water’s fizzier cousin will hydrate you just fine. You need not worry about dental concerns because studies have shown it to affect enamel just slightly more than regular water
  • Sports Drinks- Sports Drinks replenish electrolytes as well as fluids. However, some of them have very high amounts of sugar, so you should be careful of consuming too much

Fruits and Vegetables- Homemade juices and smoothies are some of the best options for hydration with nutrition. But even whole fruits and vegetables like watermelons and cucumbers are excellent sources of hydration


The research is clear. Sodas are not healthy for you. But taken in small amounts they show no evidence of causing dehydration and can be a decent stopgap for hydration if you don’t have access to water. That being said, making them your go-to source of fluids is asking for trouble and you would be far better served going for the healthier alternatives mentioned above.

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions 

Is soda bad for you?

While the occasional soda is not going to harm you, there is no doubt that drinking soda regularly is bad for you. It leads to obesity, an increase in appetite, an increased risk of disease and erosion of teeth.

How much soda should you drink in a day?

One can of soda a week is permissible but anything exceeding 1-2 cans per day is bad for your health.

What are the health effects of drinking soda?

Drinking soda may make you feel more energetic in the short term but over longer periods it has several harmful health effects. It leads to obesity, an increase in appetite, an increased risk of disease and erosion of teeth.

Is sparkling water a good alternative to soda?

Sparkling water is a much better option than soda as it contains weak carbonic acid and no sugar. It hydrates without leading to obesity and tooth decay.

What is the difference between dehydration and thirst?

Dehydration is a condition when your body loses more water than you take in. Thirst is your body signalling to you that you should drink water.

Does coffee dehydrate you?

Despite caffeine being a diuretic, regular coffee is a great hydration choice and has several positive effects on systemic health. It does not dehydrate your muscles as is often erroneously believed.

How much water should you drink in a day?

Everyone’s body is different but for a regular adult with mild activity levels, a good rule of thumb is as follows
Take your weight in pounds and divide it by 2. That number is the ounces of water you should be drinking daily. 
So a 200-pound person ought to drink 100 oz of water a day.
For those doing heavy exercise or living in very hot conditions the amount of water intake is markedly higher. 

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