We’ve all been there. You had a great time, drank a few beers, and then went home to sleep. But when you woke up, your mouth was drier than the Sahara desert. When you need to drink an entire glass of water just to relieve the dryness, that’s a sure sign of dehydration. But you drank plenty of liquid the night before, albeit the liquid was beer. So you may be wondering, why does beer dehydrate you?
Beer, like any alcohol, is a diuretic. What this means is that drinking beer will increase urination. This is because diuretics move liquid from other parts of your body to your kidneys and bladder at a very quick rate. So when drinking alcohol, if you do not also drink water at the same time, you will quickly lose the liquid that is in your system. This is why it is commonly recommended to add some water to your routine when you are out drinking.
Isn’t Beer Mostly Water?
A common misconception about beer is that it can’t dehydrate you because it is mostly made of water. And the latter aspect of that is true. Depending on the alcohol percentage, a typical beer is between 90% – 95% water. However, this does not mean that beer will hydrate you.
The diuretic effect of the beer will have an overall negative effect on your hydration. Yes, the more beer that you drink will also increase the overall amount of water in your system. But adding more and more alcohol on top of that will only increase the rate at which liquid leaves your body.
When drinking alcohol, you actually lose more liquid than you are consuming due to the diuretic effect it has on your body. To combat this issue, try drinking as much water as possible!
Do Other Types of Alcohol Dehydrate You?
Are you looking for an innovative answer? Sorry to break it to you, but there is no magical answer to this question. However, based on some research, I do have a couple of ideas. The first idea is no secret at all. If you want to pee less, drink less. The answer is simple. Drinking less means you will take less frequent bathroom breaks.
If you have no choice and your friends pressure you to stay for another round, try to choose drinks that have lower alcohol content. Traditionally, beer has less alcohol content than wines, vodka, or other hard liquors. It’s still important to keep an eye on the amount you are drinking if you don’t want to use the bathroom every few minutes.
What If I Drink a Water After Every Beer?
If drinking is on the docket no matter what, drinking water is practically the only way to reduce dehydration and even inebriation. Since your body will be losing a higher percentage of liquid while drinking, adding a non-alcoholic beverage in between beers will help immensely.
Replenishing the liquids you lost is essential to preventing dehydration. As we mentioned before, adding more beer to the equation will only increase the rate at which you need to urinate. Drinking water will not only provide hydration and liquid to your body when it needs it most, but it can have the effect of slowing down how quickly the alcohol reaches your bloodstream.
While water itself will not reduce the actual effects of being inebriated, it can help slow the process down by spreading out drinks. The liver can process about 1 drink per hour. In our case, that’s one beer. It can also mean one glass of wine or 1 serving of liquor. Drinking water does not change this fact. However, if you add a glass of water in between drinks, it will space the alcohol out, giving your body more time to process each drink.
Think of it this way: if you have a drink every 30 mins, adding a glass of water would be the difference between 1 beer per hour or 2 per hour. By doing this, you will not only reduce your dehydration and trips to the bathroom, but you could be helping yourself avoid the dreaded hangover.
Can You Drink Beer Instead of Water?
“What if the only drink I ever consumed was beer?” A thought nearly every college-aged person has had after knocking back a few beers at the bar. If this has been you, there’s bad news. You would not survive very long. Although there has never been an experiment that ran all the way until the participant died, due to the net negative effect alcohol has on hydration, you would likely only last a few weeks before dying of dehydration.
Drinking beer instead of water will also lead to numerous other health problems. For sake of argument, let’s say that doing this would put you in a similar boat as an alcoholic. The long-term effects of those that abuse alcohol are devastating. Your liver would have a large amount of damage, your brain chemistry can be affected, and many other organs would be affected. In the United States alone, 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually.
In addition to the effects mentioned above, alcohol withdrawal can also be severe. Although sometimes the symptoms might be minor, quite often people will experience severe and even life-threatening symptoms.
Is Dehydration Bad for You?
Dehydration is incredibly dangerous. Whether it is caused by alcohol intake, sweating, or contracting an illness, it must be taken seriously. According to the Mayo Clinic, women are recommended to drink 92 ounces of water daily. For men, this number jumps to 124 ounces. This is for daily life and doesn’t account for any sickness or alcohol intake.
The signs of dehydration are often fairly easy to diagnose. Most everyone knows the feeling of being thirsty. If you experience that, drink some water. The other common signs are dry mouth, decreased frequency of urination, dizziness, and even dry skin. More severe symptoms include dark urine and low blood pressure.
Anything more severe than thirst or decreased urination should be looked at by a doctor. If the case is severe, you would need to be rehydrated by IV rather than drinking water.
Dehydration is not only uncomfortable, but it can be life-threatening if not corrected. Worst-case scenarios include seizures (caused by lack of electrolytes) and kidney failure. Outside of illness, most cases of dehydration are preventable, so be sure to keep up with your intake of water.
Does Dehydration Cause My Hangover?
Alcohol is the common denominator when it comes to hangovers. And the reason for this is the dehydrating nature of the substance. While not every symptom of a hangover is caused by dehydration, the majority are.
Dehydration commonly causes symptoms such as thirst, dizziness, and most of all, headaches. Often the worst symptoms are experienced by those that drink heavily and don’t drink any water while doing so. As explained earlier, this causes your body to produce and expel more urine which leads to dehydration.
In addition to dehydration, there are many other ways that alcohol contributes to a hangover. The most common symptoms outside of dizziness and headaches are stomach problems. When you drink alcohol, there is an increase in the amount of stomach acid being produced. Alcohol can also slow down the passage of food through your intestinal system. This will often cause stomach pain, nausea, and even vomiting.
Finally, while alcohol does cause sleepiness, it also prevents any meaningful sleep from occurring. While you may feel the need to sleep after drinking, your body will not enter any of the deeper stages of sleep. It also may cause you to be restless and awaken during the night which can leave you groggy and tired the next day.
Final Thoughts – Beer and Dehydration
Alcohol dehydrates you because it causes the body to urinate more frequently. Although beer usually contains up to 95% water, the overall hydration effect is negative because of the diuretic effect it has on the body.
Drinking water, adding more time between drinks, and drinking less overall will allow you to still enjoy your beer while not waking up miserable the next day. Although it may not seem ideal at the time, your body will thank you the next day.
- Why Does Beer Make You Pee?
- When Beer Goes Flat Does it Lose its Alcohol?
- The Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Beer
- Our List of Interesting Beer Facts
Evan Diaz is a writer and editor from Florida. He recently received his MBA and enjoys writing about finance, travel, and anything that requires some research. In his free time, Evan loves photography and spending time with friends and family.