Sunday, June 12, 2016

Which Drink Hydrates You Best?

Ever wondered which drink is best after a hard training session or race? I've written before that as a recovery drink, chocolate milk is as effective as Gatorade and even superior to Endurox.

Quite a few factors affect how quickly you pee out a certain drink. Drinks with more calories or electrolytes tend to stay in your system longer. How much you drink at a time also plays a part according to an article I read.

Researchers recruited 73 subjects to test 13 different drinks. Each subject tested water and three other beverages. At each session, the subjects drank a litre of the chosen beverage and collected their urine for the next four hours.

A "beverage hydration index" showed how much of that drink was retained after two hours compared to a litre of water.

Picture from American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Looking at the picture above, you can see that a higher bar means more fluid retained. The dotted line represents twice the coefficient of variation away from water (meaning you can be real sure of a positive result).

The chart shows that milk stays longer in the body probably because of its calorie content. Milk and an oral rehydration solution (or sports drink, due to its calories and sodium) also stays in your system.

Personally, I was quite surprised that tea, coffee and beer did not seem to produce significantly more urine.

In fact coffee seems to have the lowest reading in the chart. The authors suggested that the diuretic properties of alcohol may be counterbalanced by its retention promoting calories (although another previous study that compared regular and alcohol free beer showed that regular beer drinkers had 12 percent more urine).

The authors also pointed out that larger doses of caffeine or alcohol may trigger more urine

Well, now you know not all drinks take the same time to reach your bladder. Choose your drinks wisely after your hard training session or race.


Maughan RJ, Watson P et al (2016). A Randomized Trial To Asess The Potential Of Different Beverages To Affect Hydration Of Different Beverages To Affect Hydration Status: Development Of A Beverage Hydration Index. Am J Clin Nutr. 103(3): 717-723. DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.115.114769.

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