Want to stay hydrated, but not a fan of sipping plain water all day? You're not the only one. Getting the generally recommended eight(ish) glasses of water a day can feel like a chore, but ordinary H2O isn't your only option. Other hydrating fluids and water-dense foods can help satisfy your thirst and help your body reach its daily water requirements, all the while offering some tasty variety.
While you can't totally replace water with another beverage, you can absolutely mix it up and benefit from the water content from other sources throughout the day. And there's one drink you might be surprised to learn is quite hydrating—and you probably have some in the fridge right now: milk.
That's right, this coffee addition and cereal accompaniment is not only known for its nutritional value, but also its hydrating properties. In fact, there's some scientific evidence that suggests milk is even more hydrating than water alone. Here, we dive into the existing research to find out whether milk beats out water in the hydration department, which type of milk (cow's or plant-based?) is the most hydrating, and what experts have to say.
Should You Drink Water First Thing in the Morning? Here Are 6 Healthy Perks, According to MDs
Yes, Milk Is Hydrating, According to Research
The rumors are true: Milk is a great source of hydration. A March 2016 trial in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared the effects of a variety of drinks—skim milk, whole milk, cola, diet cola, hot tea, iced tea, coffee, lager, orange juice, sparkling water, and a sports drink—on participants' fluid balances and then compared the results to still water. The findings indicated that both skim milk and whole milk are more hydrating than plain water, since when the participants drank milk they were able to retain fluids for longer periods of time than when they drank water.
Later studies have found comparable results. For instance, a May 2020 study in Nutrients found milk-containing beverages superior to water in their abilities to sustain fluids after ingestion. In fact, milk was found to have significantly higher effects on bodily hydration than water.
In both studies, researchers found that milk is associated with a lower urine output (peeing less frequently and therefore experiencing less fluid loss) compared to water. There's nothing wrong with peeing—and you should be visiting the restroom several times throughout the day to do so; however, emptying your bladder immediately after ingesting liquids isn't always best. Drinking milk and not having to go immediately after is an indicator that its hydrating effects last longer.
"Milk is about 90 percent water, meaning it can be a good source of hydration, especially in the summer months where people are more at risk for dehydration," confirms clinical dietitian Patricia Kolesa, R.D. "It also contains [the essential minerals] sodium and potassium, the electrolytes needed to replace what we sweat."
What Makes Milk So Hydrating?
Milk contains key nutrients, including electrolytes.
There are a few reasons why milk is so hydrating, the first being simply that it's not water. OK, that sounds totally backward, but here's why that's important: Plain water doesn't contain any calories or many nutrients. It can be a very small source of a few minerals, but that depends on the type of water. In comparison, milk is high in water and full of hydration-boosting nutrients. It's higher in calories and offers a balance of carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals. When you drink such a nutrient-rich beverage, the body naturally takes longer to process it—the longer the body takes to absorb and process fluids, the longer it retains them.
The research also points to the electrolytes in milk. "Milk can actually be a very hydrating beverage option, more so than just plain water, thanks to its electrolyte content," confirms registered dietitian nutritionist Sarah Schlichter, MPH, RDN. "Milk can offer varying amounts of sodium, potassium, and calcium, which can help the body absorb water more efficiently, leading to better hydration levels."
The importance of electrolytes in hydration is nothing new. Electrolytes are essential minerals responsible for regulating the balance of fluids in the body. They don't add hydration themselves, but they help your body maximize the efficiency of your fluids so you're properly hydrated and for longer. The electrolytes in milk are especially helpful after an intense workout. When you sweat, you lose electrolytes, so drinking milk is a good way to replenish what you've lost.
Are Non-Dairy, Plant-Based Milks as Hydrating?
People avoid cow's milk for a variety of reasons: a vegan lifestyle, allergies, intolerance, personal taste preference, and the list goes on. Some of the most popular plant-based milks include almond milk, soy milk, and oat milk. Each option has long been compared to milk, and all have their pros and cons (read this handy non-dairy milk explainer for more).
But do non-dairy options like almond milk or oat milk boast the same hydrating power as cow milk? The answer is yes, to some degree.
Non-dairy alternatives have a high water content, but don't always offer as many replenishing nutrients.
Generally, "non-dairy milk alternatives also tend to contain higher percentages of water," says registered dietitian Tia Glover, R.D., which in some ways gives plant-based milk the upper hand in terms of hydration. For example, soy milk contains about 92 percent water, oat milk about 91 percent, and almond milk about 97 percent." This is in comparison to non-fat (skim) cow's milk, which contains about 91 percent water, and whole cow's milk, which contains about 88 percent water.
However, as mentioned, water content isn't the only indication of how hydrating something is—its nutritional makeup is also important. Milk is a great source of hydration-promoting electrolytes, carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Plant-based milks can certainly contain these nutrients as well, but in order to achieve comparable hydration results, you have to do your due diligence to choose a non-dairy substitute that's fortified with the same nutritional properties as cow's milk.
"All milks are in the same ballpark when it comes to supplying fluid," says registered dietitian Samantha Cassetty, R.D., M.S. "For instance, [a serving of] almond milk provides about 8 ounces of water—the same [amount] as 1 percent milk. However, since almond milk lacks the protein and carbohydrates found in milk, it may not help you retain fluid to the same degree, though it still contributes to your overall hydration status." Cassetty also adds that many milk swaps can be sneaky sources of added sugar, so read your labels carefully and try your best to stay within (or under!) the American Heart Association's recommended sugar limits (around 36 grams for men and 25 grams for women).
The potential hydrating effects of plant-based milk haven't been studied to the extent that cow's milk has. We know non-dairy milk is mostly made up of water (and definitely contributes to daily hydration), but we don't yet know if it's as effective for helping your body absorb, distribute, and retain water as cow's milk is.
When Should You Hydrate With Milk Instead of Water?
Armed with all of this knowledge, you might be wondering if it's best to drink milk instead of water from now on to stay hydrated—or at least wondering if there's a time when milk is the better option. The best time to choose a glass of milk over a glass of water would probably be after sweaty, vigorous exercise, when you likely need to replace the calories, electrolytes, and macronutrients (protein, fat, carbs) found in milk that water lacks.
"Milk can be a better option for people recovering from an intensive exercise regimen," says Luis Casaubon, M.D., ECNU, an endocrinologist and expert on diabetes. "It's great to drink after a workout because it contains protein and carbohydrates. Milk can also help reduce muscle soreness after an intense workout."
The Bottom Line:
Overall, however, water is still hydrator Number One.
"Milk is good for hydration, but water is a better option purely for hydration," Dr. Casaubon says, adding that water is typically the smarter option for those with diabetes, or whose doctor has prescribed a lower caloric intake, since milk can be high in calories and carbohydrates.
Ultimately, milk is an effective hydrator—it's great to know the milk you add to your cereal, splash in your coffee, or sip on its own contributes to healthy, daily hydration. But milk can't replace water altogether. If you're going to replenish with milk instead of water, go for it after a big workout or long day of hiking. Otherwise, water can't be beat!
Is milk really more hydrating than water? ›
For example, milk was found to be even more hydrating than plain water because it contains the sugar lactose, some protein and some fat, all of which help to slow the emptying of fluid from the stomach and keep hydration happening over a longer period.What is the fastest way to rehydrate? ›
Water. While it likely comes as no surprise, drinking water is most often the best and cheapest way to stay hydrated and rehydrate. Unlike many other beverages, water contains no added sugars or calories, making it ideal to drink throughout the day or specifically when you need to rehydrate, such as after a workout.What is the best water to drink for hydration? ›
When it comes to hydrating and managing dehydration, the healthiest water includes a rehydration solution like DripDrop. It contains a precise balance of electrolytes that your body needs to address dehydration. For cases of mild to moderate dehydration, DripDrop is a fast, effective, and great-tasting remedy.Is it better to drink milk or water? ›
Research shows that milk is one of the best beverages for hydration, even better than water or sports drinks. Researchers credit milk's natural electrolytes, carbohydrates, and protein for its effectiveness.Does drinking milk count as water intake? ›
In addition, beverages such as milk, juice and herbal teas are composed mostly of water. Even caffeinated drinks — such as coffee and soda — can contribute to your daily water intake.Can you replace water with milk? ›
Dairy milk can absolutely be a nutritious part of any hydration and healthy diet plan. It's important to note, however, that given its calorie content and high satiety, it should not be used to replace water by any means.What kills dehydration? ›
The brain cells would dry out, causing convulsions. The respiratory tract would dry out, and the thick secretions that would result could plug the lungs and cause death. At some point within five days to three weeks, the major organs, including the lungs, heart, and brain, would give out and the patient would die.Why am I dehydrated when I drink a lot of water? ›
Feeling dehydrated could be a sign that you're missing out on electrolytes which include sodium, chloride, magnesium and potassium and are necessary to deliver fluids to your cells. Excessive sweating after a workout can result in a loss of electrolytes for example.What can elderly drink for dehydration? ›
- Water. If you're aiming for hydration, nothing beats good, old-fashioned water. ...
- Smoothies. Nothing says nutrition and hydration quite like a smoothie. ...
- Milk. ...
- Green Tea. ...
Mineral, structured, and pure spring water are some of the healthiest water you can drink because they're clean and contain all the essential minerals your body needs. Filtered water removes contaminants but might also remove essential minerals.
What bottled water is best for you? ›
The study concluded that four (yes, only four) bottled water brands have a pH and fluoride level completely safe for your teeth: Fiji, “Just Water,” Deer Park Natural Spring Water, and Evamor.Does tap water hydrate you better than bottled water? ›
Overall, both tap and bottled water are considered good ways to hydrate. However, tap water is generally a better option, as it's just as safe as bottled water but costs considerably less and has a much lower environmental impact. Plus, with a reusable water bottle, tap water can be just as convenient as bottled.Is it better to drink water or milk at night? ›
A glass of milk is packed with protein and drinking one before going to sleep will help you feel full all night long, resulting in a better night's sleep.Is milk more hydrating than Gatorade? ›
Milk has a similar electrolyte content and carbohydrate concentration to commercial sports drinks. The evidence mostly suggests that it is more effective at rehydrating people after vigorous exercise than well-known recovery beverages.How do you hydrate overnight? ›
Drink an ORS Before Bed
Instead of drinking a glass of water, drink an oral rehydration solution like DripDrop ORS, which also contains electrolytes that are essential for hydration. Try to drink the ORS an hour or two before bed so you don't wake up in the middle of the night to use the restroom.
Not only is it hearty and filling, oatmeal is also very hydrating. When oats are cooking, they expand and absorb the water or milk they're being paired with.Does Coke count as water intake? ›
Do caffeinated drinks like Coca‑Cola count towards my recommended daily water intake? Yes. Sparkling soft drinks, including reduced and no sugar, no calorie options, contain between 85% and 99% water, which means they can help quench thirst and count towards your recommended daily fluid intake. Did you know?What happens when you start drinking enough water? ›
You'll feel less hungry and may even lose weight. You'll probably experience more comfortable digestion (less heartburn). Bowel movements might be easier and more regular. Your teeth and gums will be healthier and more resilient.Does coffee count as water intake? ›
Here is one more reason to enjoy that morning cup of joe: “Coffee counts toward your daily water intake,” says Lauren DeWolf, MS, RD, a registered dietitian with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Centers. The water in coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages helps us meet our daily fluid needs.Is a gallon of milk heavier than a gallon of water? ›
A gallon of milk often weighs more than water. A gallon of water weighs 8.35 pounds vs the 8.6 pounds that milk weighs. A gallon of milk contains just 87% water and the rest is made up of fats, protein, carbohydrate (lactose), and minerals, plus micronutrients and vitamins.
Can you drink too much milk? ›
Too much milk can lead to health problems such as iron deficiency anemia and protein loss from the gut. While it is true that milk can be a great part of a healthy diet for children, too much milk can lead to health problems such as iron deficiency anemia and protein loss from the gut.Is Gatorade good for dehydration? ›
Pedialyte and Gatorade are both designed to prevent or treat dehydration. In fact, thanks to their electrolyte content, they're more effective than water at rehydrating.How long can elderly live without water? ›
The body requires a large amount of water to perform numerous vital functions, such as maintaining an internal temperature balance and keeping cells alive. As a general rule, a person can survive for approximately three days without water.How long can you live without drinking? ›
How Long Can a Normal Person Survive Without Water. The body requires a lot of water to maintain an internal temperature balance and keep cells alive. In general, a person can survive for about three days without water.Are you hydrated if you pee a lot? ›
Given this known process, we scientifically have shown that, yes, the more fluid you take in and thus the more hydrated you are, the more you will urinate. If you are dehydrated, you urinate less frequently.”Can you be dehydrated and still pee clear? ›
The relationship between urine colour and hydration status
The issue is that, whilst urine colour can definitely be somewhat indicative of hydration status, there's definitely not a simple and linear relationship between actual hydration status and the colour of your pee.
After you drink water, it doesn't take long at all for your body to absorb it. Unlike foods, water can be “digested” in as little as 5 minutes. Excess water leaves your body through urination and feces but is also excreted by sweating.How much water should a 70 year old drink? ›
How much water do you need to stay hydrated? As a general rule, you should take one-third of your body weight and drink that number of ounces in fluids. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, aim to drink 50 ounces of water each day.How much sleep does an 84 year old need? ›
Sleep and Aging
Older adults need about the same amount of sleep as all adults—7 to 9 hours each night. But, older people tend to go to sleep earlier and get up earlier than they did when they were younger.
Older people have a tendency to become dehydrated, but any older adult who has heart issues, diabetes, kidney disease, or obesity would benefit from drinking water or broth. An occasional bottle of Gatorade is fine, but it contains salt and sugar, both of which can be unhealthy for the cardiovascular system.
What is the best water for kidneys? ›
Pure, naturally-filtered water is the best thing you can drink for good kidney health. And installing a cost-effective, energy-efficient, and convenient bottled water cooler can be the best way to get it.Who has the healthiest water in the world? ›
1. Switzerland: With strict treatment standards and superior natural resources, Switzerland ranks number one for best EPI. In fact, Swiss tap water is as pure as its bottled water – but 500 times cheaper.Is Aquafina good water to drink? ›
The bottom line is that Aquafina is safe and healthy drinking water. It has been tested and certified for purity and meets the EPA's standards. It also has a unique filtration process that helps to make the water taste better. Therefore, if you are looking for great water to drink, Aquafina is an excellent choice.What is the number 1 bottled water? ›
1. Fiji. Since 1996, Fiji has offered clean, rainforest water to 60 countries. Sourced from an ancient artesian aquifer surrounded by dormant volcanoes, its purity is simply due to the fact that it's naturally filtered by volcanic rock.What is the number 1 selling bottled water? ›
Top 10 Water Bottle Companies in the World 2020.
|Rank||Water Bottle Company||Headquarters|
|1||Aquafina||Wichita, Kansas, USA|
|2||Dasani||Atlanta, Georgia, USA|
|3||Nestlé||Vevey, Vaud, Switzerland|
Drinking Dasani bottled water is not specifically bad for the kidneys. Although it is not spring water, it has been proven safe to drink. It contains ingredients such as sodium, calcium, and magnesium, but these are unlikely to be added to make people thirsty.Why do we buy bottled water when tap water is much cheaper? ›
One reason that people choose bottled over tap water despite the cost difference may be that it can be more convenient to have a bottle to hand when out and about — especially if there is no access to a faucet.Is it better to sip or chug water to hydrate? ›
Stay hydrated by sipping small amounts of water throughout the day; avoid chugging down fluids right before exercising to avoid stomach discomfort and bloating.Does bottled water go bad? ›
Water is a natural substance and does not go bad, however the plastic water bottle will degrade over time and begin to leach chemicals into the water, which is why it is always important to choose BPA free bottled water. ✅ How long can you keep bottled water? The recommended shelf life is two years.What not to drink before bed? ›
- Alcohol. It's no secret that alcohol makes you feel drowsy after a few drinks. ...
- Coffee. The caffeine in coffee can help wake you up in the morning. ...
- Energy Drinks. For obvious reasons, there is no use in having an energy drink before bed. ...
- Soda. ...
What is the right time to drink milk? ›
As per Ayurveda, the best time to consume milk for adults is before bedtime. As for kids, Ayurveda recommends an early morning dose of milk. Drinking milk at night promotes 'Ojas'. Ojas is referred to as a state in Ayurveda when you achieve proper digestion.What can I drink before bed to sleep? ›
- Warm Milk. ...
- Almond Milk. ...
- Malted Milk. ...
- Valerian Tea. ...
- Decaffeinated Green Tea. ...
- Chamomile Tea. ...
- Herbal Tea with Lemon Balm. ...
- Pure Coconut Water.
For example, milk was found to be even more hydrating than plain water because it contains the sugar lactose, some protein and some fat, all of which help to slow the emptying of fluid from the stomach and keep hydration happening over a longer period.What drink is the most hydrating? ›
Water is your best bet for everyday hydration, since it is free of sugar, calories, and caffeine. All of your daily food and beverages contribute to your daily fluid needs.Is milk more hydrating than Pedialyte? ›
In total, the team was able to rank 13 different beverages after tracking the urine output of 72 healthy, physically active male volunteers ages 18-35. Skim milk came in first followed by "oral rehydration" drinks like Pedialyte.What is the best quickest way to hydrate? ›
Water. While it likely comes as no surprise, drinking water is most often the best and cheapest way to stay hydrated and rehydrate. Unlike many other beverages, water contains no added sugars or calories, making it ideal to drink throughout the day or specifically when you need to rehydrate, such as after a workout.What is the quickest way to hydrate? ›
- WATER. If you have to ask how to rehydrate, then the answer is a definite no-brainer: drink water. ...
- COFFEE & TEA. ...
- SKIM & LOW FAT MILK. ...
- FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. ...
- ORAL HYDRATION SOLUTIONS.
In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends an oral rehydration solution — a fancy term for a mixture of sodium, potassium, and glucose — as the best way to return to normal. When electrolytes and glucose are perfectly balanced, you can rehydrate up to three times as fast as with plain water.What quenches thirst better water or milk? ›
Milk scored better than water on a test of how long various fluids stayed in the body before exiting as urine. The researchers reason that the longer liquid stays in the body the better it hydrates you. Milk scored its unexpected hydration win because of its mix of electrolytes, sugars, proteins and fats.What happens if I only drink milk? ›
If a person is on a milk diet the person will get only calcium and milk protein. The body will be lacking in essential nutrients such as magnesium, iron, niacin, folate and vitamins C and D, as well as completely lacking in fibre."
Is milk a good source of electrolytes? ›
Milk is a good source of electrolytes, as well as protein and carbs, making it a good post-workout beverage.What kills thirst best? ›
Water is the best source of hydration, but any beverage will do, cites FamilyDoctor.org.What is the healthiest water to drink? ›
Mineral, structured, and pure spring water are some of the healthiest water you can drink because they're clean and contain all the essential minerals your body needs. Filtered water removes contaminants but might also remove essential minerals.What is the most thirst quenching liquid? ›
Water is best to quench your thirst. Skip the sugary drinks, and go easy on the milk and juice. There are many options for what to drink, but with- out a doubt, water is the best choice: It's calorie- free, and it's as easy to find as the nearest tap.Is milk better than Gatorade for electrolytes? ›
Researchers attributed milk's beneficial hydration effect to the electrolytes sodium and potassium, which are naturally found in milk. According to another study, it was found that drinking fat-free milk after exercise also replenishes lost electrolytes and rehydrates better than a sports drink or water.What kind of milk is good for hydration? ›
When it comes to hydration, skim milk appears to be slightly more hydrating than full fat milk, which may have to do with its reduced fat content ( 10 ). Therefore, for those looking to reap the hydration benefits of cow's milk while also cutting down on calories, skim milk may be a better option.What happens if I always drink milk everyday? ›
Drinking too much milk can cause digestive issues such as bloating, cramps, and diarrhea. If your body is not able to break down lactose properly, it travels through the digestive system and is broken down by gut bacteria. Because of this reason, gassiness and other digestive issues can happen.What happens if you drink milk every morning? ›
Your Bone Health Might Improve
Not only is milk a great vegetarian protein source, but it's also packed with calcium and vitamin D—two nutrients that are vital for bone health. Calcium is a mineral needed to build and maintain strong bones, and vitamin D helps our body absorb calcium from the foods we eat.
It might not be great for your immune system.
Cutting out dairy means you get less B12, which is important within your immune system and helping your body fight off bacteria. Harju-Westman says you can combat this by taking a B12 supplement and eating foods fortified with the vitamin.
Electrolyte drinks are beneficial to pretty much everyone, but they're particularly helpful for seniors who are at a greater risk for dehydration and may struggle to get adequate electrolytes from food sources, such as leafy greens, fruit, meat, nuts, and legumes.
What is the best drink with the most electrolytes? ›
- Gatorade & Powerade. Sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade are electrolyte-rich powerhouses. ...
- Milk. Cow's milk is a bit of an underappreciated superstar when it comes to electrolyte drinks. ...
- Fruit Juices. Fruit Juices are rich in electrolytes. ...
- Coconut Water. ...
- Smoothies. ...
- Tablet-Infused Water.
You can get electrolytes through the fluids you drink. Coconut water, dairy products like milk, fruit juices, fruit and vegetable smoothies, electrolyte drinks like Pedialyte and sports drinks all contain a variety of electrolytes.