Meg Carber, RD

Meg Carber, RD

Hi! I'm Meg, a Nutritionist in the Huntersville Lake Norman area. I serve up facts without fear and science without shame to help you nourish a strong mind + body.

Water Before Coffee

One of the things I try to stress to everyone I talk to or work with in my nutrition business is the benefits of drinking water in the morning. 

Good Morning, Sunshine

If you’re like most people, you probably wake up and head straight for the coffee pot. You drink a cup or two while getting ready for work or getting the kids ready for school.

Then on the way to the office or on the way home from dropping the kids off, some of you will also swing through your favorite coffee shop drive-thru for another big cup of your favorite blend. 

Maybe you’ve never thought about how your coffee habit is affecting your hydration. 

However, hydration is key to every one of our bodily systems, so whether you are a coffee drinker or not, keep reading to learn why you need to focus on hydrating your body and how to do it.

I feel sure that once you understand the importance of fueling your body with water, you’ll want to claim your spot on the “drink water first” team. 

Are You Dehydrated?

Did you know that dehydration can show up in many different ways in the body? Dehydration is often the root cause of symptoms such as –

  • Feeling tired or sleepy
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Impaired attention
  • Reduced short-term memory
  • Reduced motor speed

As a matter of fact, you can see cognitive and motor function decreases with a mere 1-2% dehydration.

Are you beginning to understand just how crucial your hydration is? Good! Let’s talk about some goals for hydration and why it’s so important to drink water in the morning.

Hydration Goals

It’s a good idea for all of us to try to get in around 75 oz. of water per day and drinking water before we start drinking coffee is a great way to get a good start on that. 

It’s nearly impossible to hit your hydration goals if you don’t even start drinking water until mid-morning or later because you’ve been sipping on coffee all morning.

I often see people getting even more dehydrated on weekends and while on vacation. We tend to abandon our routines on the weekend or if we’re away from home and drinking water is one of the first to go.

What Do You Want from Your Coffee?

If you’re like most people, you haven’t had a sip of water in at least 8 hours when you wake up, and so your body is already in a mildly dehydrated state. 

So why do we reach for the coffee as soon as we wake up?

We’re looking for something from the coffee. We want the caffeine to wake us up, give us a boost of energy, and take the fuzzy edges off our brains. After all, who thinks clearly when you first open your eyes? 

We expect our first few sips of coffee to provide us with some much needed mental clarity and enough energy to be able to get ready and get out the door.

Did you know that water can provide all of those things as well?

It’s true. A glass of water first thing in the morning can give you the cognitive and mental boost you need and that you seek from coffee. 

Is Coffee Just a Habit for You?

I truly believe that for many people, reaching for that first cup of coffee is simply a habit they’ve developed over time. 

If you aren’t sure if coffee is a habit for you or if you truly need it every morning, I want you to stop tomorrow morning and assess the situation.

Drink a glass of water and then notice how you feel. Do you still feel like you need that cup of coffee? 

We do so many things out of habit and drinking coffee is definitely a cultural habit. With coffee shops on every corner, it’s all too easy to swing by and grab another cup.

When I challenge my own clients to start drinking water first thing in the morning, before coffee, they almost always cut their coffee intake overall simply because they are paying more attention to their behaviors instead of just doing something out of habit. 

Physical Benefits of Water vs. Caffeine

There are other benefits of drinking water in the morning besides sharper focus, better mental clarity, and more energy.

Caffeine is a diuretic, so when it hits your already slightly dehydrated system, it dehydrates you further. Instead of helping you reach your hydration goals, caffeine causes you to move into a state of deeper dehydration.

In addition, caffeine stimulates neuron activity in your brain that signals your pituitary gland to stimulate your adrenal glands. Those adrenal glands then release cortisol and adrenaline, which you may remember from elementary science class is sometimes called your “fight or flight” syndrome.

That’s a lot of stress to put on your body first thing in the morning. You just woke up, just got out of bed, and now your body thinks it is in a state of danger.

Can we all agree that this is not a good thing? 

Whereas when you drink water first thing in the morning, you are giving your body the hydration it so desperately needs, and in turn, you are getting the energy and mental clarity without all the negative aspects of caffeine. 

How to Get More Water In

There are some tips and tricks to getting more water in and hitting those hydration goals. Here are a few of my favorites –

  • Always have water available. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am rarely anywhere without my Nalgene. Decide to be that person who always has their water with them.
  • Be cautious of too many carbonated drinks. Yes, carbonated water can be hydrating to an extent, but carbonation tends to fill you up which leaves less room and desire for pure water. 
  • Watch the alcohol intake. Alcohol, like caffeine, dehydrates you. Nice try, though. (I get asked this a lot.)
  • Wean yourself from sweetened beverages. If quitting your sweet tea or lemonade cold turkey is too much for you to handle, try weaning yourself by going half-and-half until you can quit completely. 

Finding the Perfect Water Bottle

Once my clients get serious about drinking more water, they become determined to find the bottle that suits them the best.

I already told you that I’m a confirmed Nalgene girl but you might prefer another brand and style. 

The important thing is to find the bottle you will use because if it’s too much of a hassle or you don’t like using it, you won’t. 

I prefer room temperature water so BPA-free plastic or glass works fine for me, while some prefer ice-cold water and will want to find an insulated bottle. You may prefer a straw while others would rather have a wide-mouthed bottle. 

Here are some bottles I recommend to my clients that suit a variety of people and their preferences:

 

Track Your Water

Once you have your bottle or whatever type of container you choose, you’ll need to keep track of how much water you’re drinking in order to be sure to hit your daily hydration goals. 

It’s usually easy to drink a lot of water when you first start but if you don’t track it, you may find yourself a few weeks down the road barely drinking any at all.

There are several different ways to track your hydration goals and some are as close as your phone. Check the app store on your devices for tracking apps as there are many to choose from.

If you’re more the pencil and paper type, you can use a visual tracker. Let’s say you want to fill and empty your bottle 4 times per day. Simply draw 4 water drops on your planner and color one in every time you refill. 

You can make a tally mark on your calendar or even purchase a bottle that you can write a number on as you refill that will wash off. 

If you prefer to purchase a tracking system, here are a couple of trackers that I like and use with my clients:

The reusable bands are amazing; you just add a band every time you refill or start with all the bands for a day and remove one every time you refill. These bands are convenient, too; when they aren’t on your bottle, you can slip them on your wrist. 

Try Water First Thing in the Morning

So, now I challenge you to try drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning tomorrow. 

Water is a much more gentle start to your day and can help you to reach your hydration goals. 

Aim for 75 oz. per day and adjust the amount based on your own thirst, urine output, etc. 

If you already drink water first thing, comment and let me know the benefits you’ve seen in your own health. 

And if you haven’t tried it, what are you waiting for? 

Water impacts every part of your body and is absolutely essential for optimal health. 

Better brain function, better hydration, and better overall health are waiting for you. The benefits of drinking water in the morning are worth giving it a shot.

Are you up for the challenge?

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We recognize that during these uncertain times, our clients need our support more than ever. Thanks to technology, we do not expect any lapse in sessions and do not anticipate any closures. For the next few weeks, we are doing our part to help ‘flatten the curve’ by offering remote telehealth sessions using our HIPAA compliant video chat.