H2 Oh…?

I know, in general terms, that staying properly hydrated is important. But, why exactly?

I know that drinking less Diet Coke and more water would be a Good Thing.

I really started thinking more about it after reading a post from cHoCoMiLkRoCkS.

I sit here looking at this dark brown murky liquid that I’m about to pour into my mug of ice – and I just know that it can’t possibly be something I should be putting into my body.

I tell myself I’m doing a little better when I drink the caffeine free variety – but it still can’t be very good for me. With all that coloring and carbonation.

I tell myself that if Diet Coke is the worst of my addictions, that I’m not doing too bad. But does that mean it’s Ok to continue drinking it with reckless abandon?

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With all the caffeine I consume, I am most definitely in the “constantly dehydrated” club. I have my periods where I stay off it, and get a fair amount of water in. But what difference do I feel? And what other things get all mixed up in that? How can I tell if what I’m feeling is indeed the difference between being hydrated versus dehydrated?

There are times where I try to drink water after my Diet Coke. But, that doesn’t do the trick, because the caffeine has a lifespan in your system – acting as a diuretic and preventing that water from doing what it would normally do. Instead it has me running to the bathroom like someone with undiagnosed diabetes.

How long is the lifespan or duration of caffeine? According to some random internet “stuff” I’ve found, it can take anywhere from five to seven hours to eliminate half of the total amount of caffeine in the blood stream. What?! That means that the caffeine from the Diet Coke I drank at 10:00 AM might still be floating around my system at 10:00 PM?! Oh man…

I know that being dehydrated is bad. But I don’t have a good understanding of all the “bad things” it does to my body. It makes conceptual sense that it probably has an affect on my blood sugar (because the volume of blood?) and the ability for my insulin to “do it’s thing” (because it’s in my subcutaneous tissue, which must be impacted by my hydration level).

So – what does the all-knowing and awe-inspiring OC know about this issue? Spill it folks! I want a better conceptualization of what the heck I’m doing to myself! Thanks!

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14 thoughts on “H2 Oh…?

  1. Hi Scott,

    I’ve also phased out diet colas, but drink diet 7up with dinner a lot. Feels more virtuous because of that lack of coloring, though I know it’s still not as good as water.

    The dehydration thing is interesting. I drink A LOT of water typically. I’ve noticed, however, that sometimes after exercising, when I’m feeling a bit dehydrated, I’ll have an unexplained high blood sugar. In “Pumping Insulin” I read that dehydration most definitely affects blood sugars. Ah ha!

    So, we diabetics have yet another reason to drink water!

  2. The more water I drink and the more my body craves it. Plus those diet drinks taste yuck. Is it the taste you like or the drug like effects the caffiene is having? I cut of caffiene once and on the 4th day i swear I was ready to kill someone.

    I had a headache, I was spaced out, sleepy, listless…. it sucked.

    Try cut back to two cokes per day, that won’t be so bad.


  3. I am way too embarassed to tell you how much diet pepsi i consume throughout the day but it is better then other addictions right? I will work on it later.

  4. I definatly drink too much (diet) coke too. Diet Coke though, does not have as much caffeine as Diet Mt.Dew(and some other soft drinks) which is good..(my rationale)
    I do drink a couple of cans a day(weekdays)- its mainly for the energy kick, which is how I make it through the day. I drink alot of water too,but I couldn’t live without my diet coke. Weekends I try to lay off the stuff.
    There’s always caffeine free diet coke, if you can stand the taste.

  5. I try not to think of all the bad things that diet colas do to my body. Sometimes I just need a diet soda. I am not sure where I got this information or if it even has any truth to it but I have heard that C*ke products will eat your stomach lining.Weird I know…
    I have had to recently seriously restrict all caffeine consumption. Most days I do well but I am a reformed diet pepsi drinker and then became a huge iced tea drinker. Cutting the tea out has been hard and grabbing a glass of ice water instead has not been much better.
    I am no help!!!

  6. I fell off the diet coke wagon these past few weeks, just giving in to the temptation and not doing the tea thing as I’m dealing with higher stress. I feel more composed when I don’t drink diet drinks, and I’m so ashamed that I’ve been drinking them, but I don’t know if i feel better when I don’t drink diet drinks because when I didn’t, life was calmer in general? I’m rambling. Water is good. In order to maintain a good exercise routine and build up endurance cutting out the caffeine is necessary to build up hydration, which is needed to be able to effectively complete longer workouts. That’s my piece!

  7. I was a diet Coke addict for many years. In grad school, I would swing from a 2-liter bottle around while I worked in the computer lab.

    Then I switched to caffeine-free and honestly didn’t notice a difference in taste or my body, but felt I was at least avoiding the extra caffeine.

    Now that I’m pregnant, I’ve given up diet Coke (and other diet sodas) entirely and just drink a lot of flavored but sugar- and caffeine-free seltzers. It took awhile to get here, because I used to think selzter tasted nasty, but now I enjoy it and still get the carbonation fix I got from diet Coke. Occasionally I want a sip of diet Coke, but I don’t crave it anymore.

    So phasing out diet Coke is possible. Oh, I also drink a lot more skim milk these days. It’s not a substitute for diet Coke (I happen to like skim milk), but at least it’s healthy.

  8. I also forgot to mention that when i stopped drinking diet pepsi, I did not notice any change in my insulin needs. I think Kerri had a post a while ago about how different people were affected insulin wise by the caffeine. Some people did need to bolus for caffeine and others didn’t.

  9. I’m not much into the amounts of caffeine needed for it to act diuretic, but I do know one thing which have made me think about the hydration issues more than once: The human body does not feel thirst until it is actually dehydrated! We have these special cells in the brain that will act upon osmotic pressure. When the body becomes dehydrated these cells will shrink, generating a signal (thirst) for us to take in water. So we actually have to drink BEFORE we feel thirst in order to avoid dehydration all together!

    I definitely think that diet sodas are addictive, if not physiologically then at least mentally. I try not too drink to many of them, but there are times when I will enjoy them on a daily basis. At work I usually drink water, though. We have this water fountain in our coffee room to supply us with ice cold water, and water needs to be cold to taste good, I think. If not cold, and I am not really thirsty, I prefer to add taste to it by applying sugar-free fruit juice flavours or the like 🙂

  10. I use to be a diet pepsi addict. i ALWAYS had a glass within arm’s distance. Since i was getting very bloated, I saw a gastro-doctor. He said I should cut down on fresh uncooked vegetables and sugar free carbonated drinks. Well protein foods mess up by bg values b/c they make the values rise about 6 hours later but in a very unpredictable way. Carbs cannot be increased and fats are of course not to be overloaded, so what is left other than fresh, low carb vegetables? Neither should I go down in weight more! So I decided I was not going to reduce the fresh vegetables, but OK I could stop my continual diet-pepsi slurping…… Now I NEVER drink diet drinks. I am sure they are addictive. I don’t dare start, or even take a sip, b/c then I will be hooked again. I have NO self control, but at least I know it. Now I never even desire a low sugar-free drink. I think it is awful having to NEED something, that something is controling me, pushing me around. I would never go back to drinking them again…. I just thought I would tell you what I have noticed. It took 1-6 months to ditch the habit/addiction!

  11. Me… I need a 12 step program to rid myself of my addiction to diet soda. I swear I have a bottle of diet whatever in hand round the clock- ok, that may be an exaggeration, but it’s not so far from the truth. It’s actually pretty sad and pathetic.

    I wish to God that I loved water, but I don’t & I’m not one who likes to bolus for what I drink. It’s fine to bolus for food an what not, but for drinks- I just can’t wrap my brain around that.

    I hope one day I can kick this diet soda habit (the amount of soda I drink really is disgusting),or at least cut back drastically, but I have a feeling it’s going to be a hard & painful process… I just remember horrible headaches when trying to cut back cold turkey before- it wasn’t pleasant.

    I know there are vitamin waters, fruit2O, and other low carb drinks, but nothing does it for me than a nice, cold diet soda…

  12. Scott I have a couple of friends who are big diet cola drinkers and both swear that when they go off, even for a few days, they will lose at least 5 pounds of “bloat” – I don’t know if it’s the carbonation, the aspartame or what that causes it. I have no personal experience because I’m never without my Diet Pepsi -if you really want something to think about, go to one of many websites on Nutrasweet toxicity – they report that it is a neurotoxin that causes everything from MS to Alzheimers, etc.
    I vote for always feeling “not so hard” on oneself!
    Have a good week ahead.

  13. How interesting. I’m not sure whether to feel “not so hard” on myself after reading those, or what.

    During basketball I will have at least 32oz of plain old water, and I use Gatorade to keep my BG’s up if needed.

    Even with the water I had always thought it wasn’t getting where it needed to go because of the caffeine consumed earlier – but maybe that’s not completely true after all.

    Thanks Zaz!

  14. I did a little reading because I’ve had some questions about this as well. It appears that caffeine in moderate amounts is not a particularly big risk as a diuretic (and doesn’t cause enough calcium leaching to be a risk to bone health, either).



    That doesn’t mean we don’t need to drink water, of course – and there remains the artificial sweetener controversy. I’m curious about what you drink when you play basketball? I have found some low-sugar or sugar-free gatorade type drinks that are supposed to help with exercise caused dehydration. Is that really important?