Pouring water from a pitcher into a glass
Sean Cate
Sean Cate
June 15, 2024 ·  4 min read

Which Drink Hydrates Best? (It’s Not What You Think)

When it comes to hydration, many of us instinctively reach for a glass of water. However, evidence suggest that water might not be the most effective beverage for keeping us hydrated. Here are the most hydrating drinks ranked based on their hydrating capabilities. The top answer may surprise you!

11. Coffee

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While coffee is often thought to be dehydrating due to its caffeine content, moderate consumption can be hydrating. A regular coffee with about 80 milligrams of caffeine (approximately what you’d find in 12 oz. of coffee) can be nearly as hydrating as water.1 However, consuming more than 300 milligrams of caffeine can lead to a mild diuretic effect, especially in those who do not regularly consume caffeine.

Read More: Should You Drink Water On An Empty Stomach When You Wake Up In The Morning?

10. Lager

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Alcoholic beverages typically have a diuretic effect, but beer can still contribute to hydration due to its higher water content compared to spirits. Beer results in less water loss compared to stronger alcoholic drinks like whiskey because the volume of fluid ingested with beer is higher. While consuming in moderation can technically hydrate because of its high water content, it’s best to reach for something else.

9. Sparkling Water

sparkling water
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Sparkling water hydrates similarly to still water, but the carbonation can make it less desirable for some people due to potential bloating or gas. It still offers a good hydrating option without any added sugars or calories.

8. Still Water

glass of water
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Plain water is an excellent hydrator and essential for maintaining bodily functions, including regulating temperature and flushing out toxins. However, because it lacks additional nutrients, it passes through the body quickly, leading to frequent urination.

7. Sports Drinks

January 8, 2022. New York, USA. The cool sports drink from Gatorade hydrates you with electrolytes
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Sports drinks contain electrolytes such as sodium and potassium, which help retain fluids in the body and prevent dehydration, especially during intense physical activities. They also contain carbohydrates that can provide energy, making them a good option for athletes.2 However, if you need to watch your sugar intake or live a sedentary lifestyle, these should be avoided for something with less sugar and fewer calories.

6. Tea

Pot and cup of tea
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Tea, like coffee, can contribute to hydration. Both caffeinated and decaffeinated teas hydrate well, and they also offer additional health benefits due to their antioxidant content. However, it’s best to consume them in moderation to avoid excessive caffeine intake.

5. Cola

Coke cans in the sand
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Cola and other sugary sodas can hydrate due to their water content, but the high sugar levels can also draw water out of the body’s cells through osmosis, which can counteract some of the hydrating effects. Therefore, while they do contribute to fluid intake, they are not the best choice for optimal hydration. es. They also contain carbohydrates that can provide energy, making them a good option for athletes.2 Just like sports drinks, if you need to watch your sugar intake or live a sedentary lifestyle, these should be avoided for something with less sugar and fewer calories.

Read More: There Is No Excuse for You to Casually Drink Bottled Water

4. Orange Juice

glass of Orange Juice
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Orange juice is hydrating and provides vitamins, such as vitamin C, and minerals like potassium, which can aid in maintaining fluid balance. However, its high sugar content means it should be consumed in moderation.

3. Oral Rehydration Solutions

IRVINE, CALIFORNIA - 21 DEC 2020: A bottle of Pedialyte Advanced Care Electrolyte Solution, Berry Frost Flavor.
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Oral rehydration solutions (ORS) like Pedialyte are specifically designed to treat dehydration. They contain a balanced mix of electrolytes and a small amount of sugar, which promotes water absorption and retention in the body. These are particularly useful for treating dehydration caused by illnesses like diarrhea.

2. Full Fat Milk

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Milk is a highly effective hydrating beverage due to its combination of lactose (sugar), protein, and fat, which help to slow down the emptying of fluids from the stomach, thus prolonging hydration. The sodium content in milk also helps the body retain fluid.

1. Skim Milk

Milk bottle with Waist tape measure
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Skim milk tops the hydration list in many studies. It contains the same beneficial nutrients as full fat milk, but with less fat. This means it hydrates just as well without adding extra calories. The lactose, protein, and electrolytes in skim milk make it an excellent choice for maintaining hydration over longer periods.


Taipei, Taiwan - JUNE 1, 2020 : Various of milk product on shelf in the fridge of a supermarket. Taipei, Taiwan.
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While water remains a fundamental part of hydration, other beverages may offer superior hydration due to their nutrient content. Drinks like skim milk and oral rehydration solutions provide prolonged hydration by ensuring that fluids are retained in the body longer. Remember that calorie and sugar consumption matters when it comes to individual needs. Water is still the most accessible and cheapest way to stay hydrated (so don’t ignore it), but options like milk, sports drinks, and oral hydration solutions can be more effective in certain situations. If you have any questions regarding your personal hydration needs, speak to your doctor, a dietician, or a nutritionist.

Read More: 5 Reasons to Eat Watermelon Often


  1. Which drink is best for hydration? Hint: It isn’t water.” CNN. Lisa Drayer. May 6, 2023.
  2. What’s the Best Drink to Stay Hydrated?GoodRX. Cara Rosenbloom, RD. January 2, 2024.

    Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.