Regular coffee is a diuretic, but decaf coffee doesn't affect your body in the same way, so switching can give you greater control and lead to fewer bathroom breaks.
We've looked at the science and studies behind drinking decaffeinated coffee, and in this guide we'll explain why it's different from regular coffee, how it effects your body, and what benefits you can get from drinking decaf.
What Exactly Is Decaf Coffee?
If you always drink regular coffee then you may have seen the decaf option but never really thought about it. Well, as the name suggests, decaf coffee is coffee without caffeine.
Drinking coffee gives you a jolt of energy that most coffee lovers enjoy. This comes from the caffeine, which originates in the coffee beans.
Decaffeinated coffee is made with decaf coffee beans. These are the same green coffee beans used in regular coffee, but they have gone through a process using liquid carbon dioxide to extract caffeine from them. This leaves you with (almost) completely caffeine free beans.
The decaf coffee beans are then ground and used in exactly the same way to make coffee, but the end product barely has any caffeine. This is why it impacts your body differently.
Does Decaf Coffee Taste Different To Regular Coffee?
Decaf coffee tastes fairly similar to regular coffee. It can be a slightly milder drink with a less flavor and fragrance, and there are often more bitter notes.
Unless you're a true coffee aficionado you probably won't even notice you're drinking decaf coffee, though you won't get the same energy boost because of the lack of caffeine intake.
What Exactly Is A Diuretic?
A diuretic is any substance that can help the body get rid of extra fluid or salt. It causes your kidneys to produce more urine.
Basically, diuretics make you pee more often.
Diuretic drugs and medicines are often used for people who have excess fluid in their body. Excess fluid in the body can make it difficult for the heart to function properly and can make breathing hard to do.
That's why people who have high blood pressure, swollen tissues, kidney disease, and heart failure often use diuretic drugs to address their conditions.
Many people use diuretic medications that are prescribed by a doctor. However, some foods and drinks we consume on a daily basis are also considered natural diuretics.
Are Diuretics Dangerous?
Diuretics aren’t necessarily harmful, especially when consumed naturally and with control. The most common food and drinks we consider diuretics, such as coffee, are only mild diuretics.
However, consumption of too many diuretics can lead to increased urination. This can lose important minerals, like potassium, and you can become dehydrated.
Drinking coffee is very unlikely to be a dangerous unless you are consuming very high quantities regularly (over 10 cups a day).
What Makes Regular Caffeinated Coffee A Diuretic?
Is regular coffee a diuretic? Yes, coffee is a mild natural diuretic because of the caffeine content.
The caffeine in regular coffee gives you an energy boost, but also has a mild, short-term diuretic effect.
When you drink a cup of coffee, the caffeine in it moves from your stomach to your bloodstream and liver. There, it is used to develop metabolic and biochemical changes that boost energy and cause your kidneys to produce more urine, eliminating excess water and salt in your body.
According to recent studies, caffeine consumption directly affects your kidneys, making coffee and other drinks that have caffeine a mild diuretic. Caffeine in regular coffee causes diuresis, which is also known as increased urination.
Essentially, the caffeine in coffee makes you want to go to the bathroom more.
How Much Caffeine Does It Take To Act As A Diuretic?
Studies show that you need to ingest at least 360 milligrams of caffeine to experience the diuretic effect. An 8-ounce coffee only has 95 to 200 milligrams of caffeine, depending on the brew.
So, for coffee to have a diuretic effect on the body, you need to consume at least two cups.
Does Coffee Dehydrate You?
Despite the diuretic effects, regular coffee hasn't been shown to cause dehydration.
However, the caffeine in coffee, combined with the diuretic effects mean that it shouldn't be your main source of hydration.
So, just remember that a high coffee intake doesn't replace the need for plenty of water.
Can You Develop A Tolerance For Caffeine?
Moderate coffee drinkers will probably feel the effects of caffeine in a same way every time, however, those who regularly drink more than two cups of coffee may not experience any diuretic effects because they have become tolerant to the caffeine levels.
Some people are more sensitive to caffeine and can react in more extreme ways. This can mean it's a more potent diuretic and can cause more frequent bathroom visits.
If you're sensitive to caffeine you should watch how much caffeine you consume, and completely avoid high caffeine energy drinks.
Is Decaf Coffee A Diuretic Too?
No, decaf coffee is not a diuretic because there is very little caffeine.
The decaffeination process removes the majority of caffeine in a coffee, leaving less than 2% of the previous caffeine levels. This is not enough to cause cause frequent urination, which is why this decaf coffee isn’t a diuretic like regular coffee.
Does Decaf Coffee Make You Pee?
Decaf coffee isn't a diuretic, but decaf coffee makes you pee as you usually would.
Decaf coffee will act in the same way as drinking water, so if you consume enough of it then you will need to urinate. This is perfectly natural and not related to the decaffeinated coffee.
Is Decaf Coffee Healthy?
Decaf coffee is perfectly safe to drink and has fewer potential side effects than regular coffee.
Those who are sensitive to the caffeine in regular coffee can safely drink coffee make from decaf. You can even find extremely low caffeine decaf coffee from some companies, like Swiss Water Process, who use a unique green coffee extract solution.
It also still has all the health benefits associated with regular coffee. Plus, there are no diuretic effects which means less frequent urination, so decaf coffee makes for better hydration.
Why Do People Drink Decaf Coffee?
The downside of drinking decaf coffee is that you won't get the energy-boosting caffeine.
However, it's generally considered a healthier alternative to regular coffee, and there are a lot of reasons people switch to decaf:
Less Likely To Cause Acid Reflux
Decaf coffee will give you significantly less acid reflux.
Caffeine isn’t the primary cause of acid reflux from coffee, it's actually the acids within the beans themselves. However, the decaffeination process lowers the acid levels of coffee beans which makes decaf a better alternative for people who are sensitive to acidic food and drink.
Less Interference With Sleep
Too much caffeine can ruin your sleep, reduce your sleep quality, and cause insomnia. This can make you exhausted and hamper your productivity throughout the day.
Switching from regular coffee to decaf coffee can stop you having excess caffeine in your system and give you a great nights sleep - letting you enjoy your coffee without the side effects.
Tea drinker? You can also switch to decaf tea if you want to remove caffeine entirely.
Decaf Is Associated With a Lower Risk Of Premature Mortality
Both decaf and regular coffee have been linked with reduced type 2 diabetes, and each cup is said to reduce the risk by up to 7%. According to another study, elements other than caffeine may be responsible for these protective effects.
Decaf coffee can also help in reducing liver enzyme levels. It is also linked with a small but significant reduction in the risk of premature mortality, specifically from stroke or heart disease compared to those who consumed caffeinated drinks.
Great Alternative For People With Caffeine Intolerance
Those who suffer from caffeine intolerance can suffer from jitters, restlessness, anxiety, nausea, increased heart rate, and high blood pressure when they have caffeine. This can happen when they drink coffee, or even some soft drinks with a moderate caffeine content.
If you're sensitive to caffeine you can switch to decaffeinated coffee and still enjoy the bold and bitter taste, without consuming the caffeine content.
Decaf Coffee Is An Excellent Choice For Pregnant Women And Adolescents
Decaffeinated coffee is safe for pregnant women to drink. It's also safe for adolescents.
Increased caffeine intake has been linked to health issues in both minors and pregnant people, but decaf means they can still enjoy a cup of coffee whenever they want to.
*Always consult your doctor for expert advice when pregnant*
Common Decaf Coffee and Diuretic Questions
Why should you not drink decaf coffee?
No evidence suggests that coffee is bad for you, and it may even provide health benefits that regular coffee can give.
What are the side effects of decaf coffee?
Side effects of decaf coffee are minimal. However, people with kidney disease are often advised to avoid or limit coffee because of its oxalate content.
Does decaf coffee make you poop?
While decaf coffee can still have a little bit of laxative effect compared to water, it isn’t as strong as caffeinated coffee. In some cases, decaf coffee can still make you poop.
Does decaf coffee count as fluid intake?
Yes, you can. The diuretic effect of decaf isn’t as bad as regular coffee. So, you can add your decaf coffee cup to your overall fluid intake.
Can drinking coffee make you pee more? Yes, but decaffeinated coffee isn't a diuretic so it doesn't have the same effect as regular coffee.
Decaf will still make you urinate (just like water does) but not to the same extent. Plus, it has some other benefits which we've explained in this article.
So, if you want to enjoy the strong and intense aroma of coffee without the side effects then switching to decaf coffee is the best choice.