Although it is true that beer may quench your thirst but does beer hydrate you? The answer is no it does not, in fact, the opposite is true, beer dehydrates you.
This is because beer contains alcohol and alcohol is a known diuretic that causes your body to process and remove fluids at a much faster rate through your kidney and bladder resulting in you becoming dehydrated.
In fact, any beer that has an ABV (alcohol by volume) greater than 4% causes your body to release more water than is actually contained in the beer itself. For every glass of beer, you are drinking your body is actually releasing more than a glass of water.
This extra water is pulled from your body’s water stores, resulting in a depletion of water in your system. If you don’t drink enough water between pints of beers this depletion of water results in you becoming dehydrated.
One of the consequences of being dehydrated is the dreaded hangover. In order to prevent this let’s take a look at some of the ways people become dehydrated quicker and how you can slow and even prevent this from happening…
Why Does Beer Dehydrate You?
There are many reasons a person may become dehydrated while drinking beer, the following are some of the top reasons this can happen:
Drinking Beer on an Empty Stomach
When you eat before or while you are drinking it slows the rate at which your body absorbs the alcohol in the beer allowing your body to stay hydrated longer. This is because the liquid you drink must first pass through and be processed by your stomach before it can enter your bloodstream.
If your stomach is empty it processes the alcohol very quickly allowing it to enter your bloodstream faster. If your stomach is full of food it creates somewhat of a diluting effect on the beer as it has to process it and the food at the same time, which takes longer.
The Alcohol in Beer Enters Your Bloodstream
The alcohol from the beer is able to get to all parts of your body and dehydrate you due to its ability to enter your bloodstream. Have you ever wondered why you get that buzz and start to feel the effects of the alcohol impairing your judgment? This is because it has been able to travel to your brain through your bloodstream.
Why do police officers use a breathalyzer? It’s not because your breath smells like beer, it’s because the alcohol has actually traveled to your lungs through your bloodstream and your lungs exhale it when you breathe out.
Your Body Only Processes One Beer Per Hour
A well-known rule of thumb is that if you only drink one beer per hour you will stay hydrated and not become intoxicated. This is because your body is able to metabolize and process one standard drink per hour. Anything more than one drink per hour will result in you becoming intoxicated and as a result dehydrated.
It is important to understand that this is just a rule of thumb and depends on many factors. Do not rely on this rule especially if you are planning on driving.
Alcohol is Processed and Flushed Out
Your liver is responsible for breaking down and processing the alcohol from the beer. However as a result of the alcohol an important antidiuretic hormone called vasopressin that your body uses to hold water is actually suppressed. This combined with water being removed from your body faster than your body can process the alcohol results in dehydration occurring.
Does Beer Hydrate You Video
What Happens When You’re Dehydrated?
When your body does not have the water levels it requires to function optimally you will feel short-term effects that are very similar to the symptoms you experience from a hangover.
Short Term Effects of Dehydration:
- Lightheaded or dizzy
There are also more serious longer-term effects of being dehydrated due to excessive ongoing drinking.
- Liver damage
- Kidney damage
- Loss of cognitive functions
- Loss of muscle mass
How to Stay Hydrated While Drinking Beer
If you know you are going to be having some beers there are a few things you can do in order to stay hydrated and minimize the chances of becoming overly intoxicated and the dreaded hangover…
Drink plenty of water before you have any beer. If you know you are going to be hanging out with the boys tonight be sure to drink lots of water during the day in order to make sure your body is hydrated and has lots of water stored. 8 – 12 glasses are recommended.
Drink water while you are having beers. Having a glass of water between every beer will help you to stay hydrated. A tip to make sure the water counters the dehydrating effects of the beer is to have a bigger glass of water as compared to the size of the beer you are drinking. Meaning if you are having a 16 oz pint of beer, drink a 20 oz glass of water. This will ensure your fluids are replenished.
Just like drinking water before having a beer, be sure to eat healthy meals during the day. An empty stomach is a sure way to become dehydrated quickly. It is also advised to eat some food while you are drinking as it will slow the absorption of the alcohol down.
Pay attention to what your body is telling you. Everyone’s body processes alcohol differently. If you start to feel the effects of being dehydrated from the alcohol, slow down, drink more water and have something to eat.
Do your best to stick to the rule of thumb of one beer per hour. If you do you will find that your body will stay hydrated longer, you will not become as intoxicated and your hangover will be much more bearable the next day.
What to Do if You’re Dehydrated
If you end up dehydrated and/or hungover there are a few things you can do to help minimize the negative effects from it and how long they last.
The first thing you want to do is to hydrate your body again. Water and sports drinks that contain electrolytes are key. Replenish your fluids as quickly as possible.
Like attempting to prevent dehydration, eating healthy foods the next day can help reduce the negative effects and help you bounce back faster.
If you can manage to do some exercise, it is believed that sweating allows your body to process and get rid of the alcohol faster.
Get as much sleep as you can, your body goes into recovery mode when you are sleeping.
Do not abide by the rule of the “hair of the dog that bit you”. Many people believe that having some alcohol the next day will reduce the effects of the hangover. This is not true, your body still has to process the alcohol and by adding more into your system you are prolonging your recovery time and dehydrating yourself further.
Does Beer Hydrate You in Hot Weather?
This is actually the hardest section of this article to write. There is not much better than having a nice cold ice beer in the hot sun.
However, no beer will not hydrate you in the sun. As good as it tastes and as cool and refreshing as it feels it is still dehydrating you.
The rate at how fast you will become dehydrated will depend on:
- How much water you have consumed that day.
- How many of those ice-cold beers you are consuming in the sun.
- How hot the sun is, and how much you are sweating
- What ABV the beer is.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you survive on beer instead of water?
Believe it or not, this is up for debate. There are many studies that indicate it is possible. Now understand this is not saying you can survive on beer alone without food, it is also not saying you can survive on just beer and water, both of those have been proven to not be possible and you can be assured if you try that you will develop scurvy within about 2-3 months due to not having the required nourishment your bodies needs.
However, whether you can drink beer instead of water while eating a healthy diet remains up for debate apparently.
Why do you pee so much when drinking beer?
For the very simple reason that the alcohol within the beer acts like a diuretic, which in layman’s terms means it causes water loss from the body through urine. Alcohol causes your body to get rid of water instead of absorbing and storing it.
Is light beer healthier than regular beer?
Yes, lighter beer could be considered slightly healthier, this is because it has approximately the same amount of minerals and vitamins, but it also has less alcohol which means it also has fewer calories. Consuming less alcohol and not overconsuming calories are both considered healthy activities.
How many beers a day is healthy?
The Mayo Clinic advises that for a female one 12 oz beer is considered healthy and for a male up to two is considered healthy.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that beer does not hydrate you. It is a diuretic so it actually dehydrates you. However, following the tips outlined in this article, you can minimize its dehydrating effects and enjoy your evening of beers without having to worry about the negative effects of dehydration and the dreaded hangover.
Cheers, Big Robb is Out!
P.S. If you make your own beer or have ever wanted to start I recommend that you grab the recipes to my top 5 best selling beers from my brewpub. Details are on the side of the blog or at the bottom on your smart device. Enjoy!