Does Beer Hydrate or Dehydrate the Body? (Transcript)
My name is Kevin O’Hara for alcohol mastery and today I’m gonna be asking the question, “Does beer hydrate or dehydrate you?”
Beer or Bacteria
Back in the old days, when beer was first made, it was made because the water was absolutely filthy. They couldn’t drink the water because they’d get all sorts of nasty diseases. By adding alcohol it meant that a lot of the bacteria was killed.
Beer in the old days was very mild. It was maybe half a percent, so you could basically drink it all day long without it having much of an effect, much like shandy that you buy now in a tin can.
Modern day beer is a lot stronger than that. The average beer nowadays is 4 or 5 percent. So the answer to the question “Does it hydrate or dehydrate you?” is that it actually dehydrates you.
It’s actually thought that if you drink 200 ml of beer, that you don’t just urinate 200 ml of water. You actually urinate 320 ml of water, which is a 120 ml of dehydration.
The Inner Fight for Water
So where does the extra water come from?
The first thing you have to understand is how your body deals with alcohol. Alcohol is a very small molecule and it gets through the lining of your cell membranes very quickly. The liver has to deal with it very quickly because it’s a toxin.
Second thing you have to understand is that if you weigh 80 kilos then your body generates about 80 ml of urine per hour. If you’re 100 kilos, it’s a 100 ml of urine – 110 is a 110 ml of urine per hour. And also the alcohol you’re taking into your body interferes with the mechanisms that regulate the water in your body. So basically there’s a chemical inside your body called ADH which regulates the amount of urine that you excrete, so you’re trying to keep water inside your system. This is put out by the pituitary gland in your brain.
Alcohol works the opposite way around – it stops this ADH from working. Or at least, it prevents your body from producing enough ADH and forces your kidneys to expel much more water than it would normally do.
Stay Hydrated, Drink Water Not Alcohol
As I said in the previous video, a lot of people try to compensate for the amount of dehydration that beer or alcohol inflicts on the body by drinking more water. It doesn’t really work because your body will only hold onto a percentage of the extra water that you’re bringing in, and it will get rid of the rest. Although it does help, it doesn’t help as much as it would do if you didn’t drink any alcohol at all.
So the question is, “Does beer rehydrate or dehydrate you?” Definitely dehydrates you. The only way to avoid it is not to drink beer. Drink plenty of water instead, it’s good for you!
Thanks for visiting the site.
Until next time…
Onwards and Upwards!
Previous Posts You Might Also Enjoy
Where Do You Want To Go After You’ve Quit Drinking?
Alcohol & Coma
Alcohol & Diabetes
“Researchers at Granada University in Spain found this Nobel Prize-worthy discovery after months of testing 25 student subjects, who were asked to run on a treadmill in grueling temps (104 degrees F) until they were as close to exhaustion as possible. Half were given water to drink, and the other half drank two pints of Spanish lager. Then the godly researchers measured their hydration levels, motor skills, and concentration ability. They determined that the beer drinkers had “slightly better” rehydration effects, which researchers attribute to sugars, salts, and bubbles in beer enhancing the body’s ability to absorb water. The carbohydrates in beer also help refill calorie deficits.” – See more at: http://www.backpacker.com/news-and-events/news/trail-news/hallelujah-beer-hydrates-better-than-water/#sthash.MHQ3JbtI.dpuf
Obviously this doesn’t mean that an alcoholic should consume alcohol in any amount. But it clearly shows that for people who can drink, it does hydrate when consumed in moderation. That being said, I congratulate you on your sobriety and wish you the best in your recovery.
Dr James Betts, an expert on nutrition and metabolism at Bath University, said a moderate amount of beer might be just as good as water at helping the body retain liquid, but that he doubted it could be any better.
Dr Betts said: “If you are dehydrated to start with following exercise, a beer, as opposed to a spirit, probably does not have a high enough concentration of alcohol to induce a diuretic effect.”
In my opinion, this is a professor who is looking for the limelight. He announced his ‘results’ in a press conference titled “Beer, Sport, Health”. The study involved making a group of students, it doesn’t say how many, do strenuous exercise in temperatures of 40 degrees c. He gave half the students beer and the other half water. Come on! Students, Beer, 40c temp, what would you expect… hardly the need for the sensational headline. How many people around the world will use this as another excuse to carry on poisoning themselves?
It’s quite interesting that you have no problem immediately rushing to criticize professors that disagree with you yet you haven’t shown any kind of scientific evidence whatsoever to support your own theory.
Well here’s a trial done in 2015
I don’t understand how you get the conclusion that better performance in short term exercise means that it hydrates better. There’s a lot more to someones performance than just how well hydrated they are. You take one person who gets a very small amount of sleep, no caffeine, no food, but well-hydrated, they probably still won’t perform as well as somebody who gets a full nights sleep, and takes an energy drink, especially for short term exercise. The beer probably helped because of the carbs and sugars, which give you energy, not to mention the alcohol might make you a bit more “numb” to exhaustion(though I’m just guessing there).
Not to mention, the dehydrating effects come more later after the body processes most of the alcohol through the liver and kidneys. Do you feel dehydrated while you’re out drinking? No, you feel it the next morning.
Of course you are dehydrated when you are out drinking, you just don’t know it because you are drinking more and more. If you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Alcohol is a diuretic. A diuretic is any substance that promotes diuresis, the increased production of urine. You consume alcohol, it doesn’t matter if it’s in beer, wine, or vodka, and you will piss more! When you piss more, you become dehydrated… What’s not to understand?
Why do sailors and pirates drink rum on ships? If alocohol dehydrates then drinking rum on seas would be even riskier.
Sorry for the typo. It is alcohol. Not alocohol.
It’s quite obvious, how could you trust a pirate that doesn’t drink rum!
It was over 200 years ago. They weren’t educated on the matter. So yes it was riskier for them to drink on the seas and alot of them would have died due to being drunk and from severe dehydration.
It explained it a bit in the article, but sailors would drink a very low alcohol content “beer”. Almost like a non-alcoholic beer. The smaller amount of alcohol would be enough to keep the water disenfected, but not enough to really dehydrated you.
Of course. This website is to help people stop consuming alcohol. Beer doesn’t dehydrate, alcohol does. Solution, drink alcohol free beer as you suggest:)
I’m a serious piss head. I’m getting better thanks to the fact tha I was about to die at age 30 and I really think Hypno therapy has helped more than anything else. I’d like to talk coz I’m drinking less now than I have for the last 17 years and want to share tips. I don’t like AA. My mum always said “don’t drink so much you can’t ever have a another drink again because you will regret it more than ………………
This article is kind of silly. “Just don’t drink alcohol”. Well duh, of course we know it’s better to avoid but most people don’t. Are there any better suggestions? I’m not a heavy drinker but I can tell you that when I do drink a large amount of alcohol I always drink lots of water and it really helps. For every glass of wine, I have a glass of water. I barely ever get hang overs.
Often the simplest and most obvious solution is the best. The article is titled: Does Beer Hydrate or Dehydrate Your Body? I think it’s made plain that any alcohol dehydrates you. As you said, when you drink lots of alcohol you also drink lots of water, so I think you knew the solution to your thirst before you searched. What is ‘silly’ is knowing the consequences of poisoning your body with alcohol and still insisting on putting it in your body 🙂
This website is to help people quit the alcohol and overcome the bullshit that drinking a poison for fun is normal.
Its silly to say that any amount of alcohol dehydrates you. A high concentration of alcohol dehydrates you and zero concentration (e.g. pure water) hydrates you. Somewhere, in between lies the break even point.
I understand your point, although practically everything is a poison depending on the dosage. I think that on the topic of alcohol there are alot of biases one way or the other.. it’s difficult to find truly unbiased information for some of these specific details. I’d like to see a graph of hydration factor vs ABV instead of a blanket statement that all alcohol is bad. Grape juice is naturally very mildly alcoholic just because that is pretty much the fate of sugar.
Read your article and all the responses and you know you would be more convincing if you didn’t go round calling beer a poison. It makes you sound as if you stand outside pubs with placards singing “Bringing in the Sheep” or do you? Look, everything is addictive in varying amounts and as such everything is potentially a poison. I remember a story of a guy in the UK, in the papers, who died and ultimately dehydrated by drinking carrot juice too much and too often.
So don’t call beer “a poison” it makes you sound like Mary Whitehouse, or maybe you are a bit like her. Anyway your comments will carry more weight if you don’t and for the record am not a big drinker either but I love the occasional beer and wine.
And seriously, Dr Betts making runners drink beer in 40c in Bath???? You must mean 4c because I doubt he flew a bunch of beer guzzling students all the way to Marble Bar in WA where the weather is nice and hot just to test his beer story.
Its raining buckets today when it should be blue sky and 40c which has put a stop to my decking the garden project so if you are asking why did I bother? that’s my reason.
Ethanol is a poison. Beer contains ethanol. When the ethanol is metabolized by your liver, it’s turned into acetaldehyde which is an even worse poison. Ethanol is a neurotoxin which is poisonous or destructive to the human nervous system. What would you like me to call it? Keep following the herd Nick 🙂 Love, Mary
Perhaps call it the beverage it is 😉 Sugar and Salt are a poison based on that logic. I agree, I came here for a scientific explanation of whether you walk away more or less hydrated form beer, not a moral argument on what I should be drinking. That said, it was interesting, so thanks!
thank you I read the article, although some people feel that beer is healthy, what would you say to those people? I agree with you 100% I try to drink nothing but water, plus drinking too much ruins your kidneys.
May I add I live in the Philippines and most people here drink.
Just that any alcohol is a neurotoxin, so not healthy.
Wine, beer, and appetitives are all part of a balanced diet for the human. Striking the right individual balance in a diet is called mastery -like in your website, declaring your answer – the only correct answer is zero alcohol – is a shallow analysis. Self-confirmation is abundant online for those who seek it. I was a smoker, and I hate it with my guts, and my answer is zero nicotine, but if I had an option to smoke three cigs forever, at that time, instead of quitting – I’d probably take it. And it would be a good decision. My zero cigs is also a very good decision. The big difference though, vast minority of alcohol drinkers are not alcoholics, while vast majority of smokers are nicotine addicts.
Regarding beer, according to Mens Health article, A pint of beer a day is good for your health. I don’t know who is right.
You’ll have to put a reference to the article please.
Took about 3 seconds to find this using a Google search.
There are many poisons used in medicine that have better benefits than harm. Want me to site that too, or do you want to do your own Google search?
At the end of the day, you do with your body what you want to do with your body…IT’S YOUR BODY. You don’t have to defend yourself to anyone. This is a website for people who don’t want to put this poison into themselves any more. I kid you not, but you may still kid yourself! 🙂
You all sound like you will outlive the sun and the stars. Living a couple of years more than someone who drinks alcohol and be proud of it, seems to me that you are kidding your selves.Honestly i prefer not to live those extra years if they are going to be like that.
It’s not a question of living a longer life, it’s a question of living a better quality life. I was dying at 46 until I stopped drinking, now I have done more in the five years since I stopped drinking than I had in the previous 25 years. I feel younger, fitter, healthier, and have much more brain power. The problem with being a drinker is you can’t see the danger because you are stuck in the middle of it, you don’t know anything else, and you’re being led like a sheep by the brainwashing of the alcohol industry. Sorry to lay it out for you, but it is you who is kidding yourself. Remember: quality of life first, then quantity. And by the way, I think I am going to live a longer life as well. You get out what you put in. Put poison in and you don’t need me to tell you what you’re going to get out.
Your response sounds like the response of a recovering alcoholic. Of course an alcoholic is killing themselves and it is clear why you would feel healthier going from alcoholism to sobriety. Those of us who can drink in moderation though can enjoy it without the same consequences you were dealing with.
Good for you. It’s your body and your life. I can only speak for myself.
Last night I had 1300ml(8% alcohol) beer. and today did not have any extraordinary urine pass. but ya I was feeling dehydrated last night after having the beer. So, I think more logics are required to yours weight, alcohol and urine pass relation.
What percentage alcohol added to water, in a single drink of specific volume; or what total volume of alcohol in a specific unit of time, crosses the point from a drink being hydrating or de-hydrating for male men from 70kg to 100kg, on average?
If someone could answer these questions it would be good. Is there any real research on this?
Kevin…I get what you were saying and thank you for the article! These people going on a psychotic rampage over information provided is missing the point!
Relax people…if this article doesn’t apply to you or you don’t believe it, then don’t follow it! That simple! Kevin merely shared what worked for him and honestly, it makes sense and I intend on following heed because I DO want to live a better Quality life…by NOT filling my body with poison!!!
Thank you, Kev 😉
I didn’t read all the thread. But they’re healthy benefits to moderate alcohol consumption. Same as with coffee and nearly everything else on this planet. Too much water will kill you just as anything else. Moderating is the key to life. Ever listen to one of those elderly over 100yrs old. .? Many say they have a glass/bottle etc of an alcoholic beverage. Nuf said. I finished my 60 min of cardio, I’m having a beer.
Please can you cite your source for the following quote, “It’s actually thought that if you drink 200 ml of beer, that you don’t just urinate 200 ml of water. You actually urinate 320 ml of water, which is a 120 ml of dehydration.”
I won’t drink water as it is too polluted with various poisons by the water companies (see population control) I drink beer which is better than nothing yea?
I’m sure coffee is a ‘poison’ as well (sort of like global warming alarmists who consider CO2 a poison) an yet … there are so many studies that lend credence to a view that abstinence is not a healthy choice either.
People, Alcohol is posion. Just like cigarettes if you do it rarely, your chances of getting a related illness are low but you are increasing your exposure with every sip and every puff. 1 in 5 men are alcoholics and just because you don’t show up drunk to work doesnt mean youre not an alcoholic. If you cope with stress through alchol, if you drink every night until youre drunk youre probably an alcoholic. Alcohol can be enjoyed in moderation but so can cigarettes with that same logic, so can fried chicken but most people drink too much, and eat too much fried chicken. why? Because alcohol and fried chicken are both terrible and addictive. It is a poison unfortunately. Getting drunk is enjoyable but it is bad for you even if you dont get drunk. Drinking in moderation probably wont kill you if you really are drinking in moderation but statistically speaking 1 in 5 men can’t. Many people who are alcoholics are in denial because it is seen as a shameful illness when really it isnt shameful it is quite common and the illness is perpetuated by our culture. Be careful getting drunk is bad for you dont make it a habit. Even better dont do it.