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Does Coffee Make You Pee More Than Water? Here’s What a Urologist Has to Say

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You pee before you leave for work, drink your coffee en route and reliably have to go again by the time you get to the office. If this sounds familiar, you’ve probably come to the conclusion that your morning beverage is to blame…but does coffee make you pee more than water or is it just in your head? We tapped a urologist to find out.  (Spoiler: You’re not crazy, it really is the coffee.)

Meet the Expert

Dr. Gregory Quayle is an American Board of Medical Specialties-certified urologist with more than 14 years of surgical experience and an advisory board member at Phoenix.  

Does Coffee Make You Pee More Than Water?

Yep, it does…which means that if you replace your morning cup of Joe with an equal volume of plain water, there’s a good chance that you will pee less (and also feel less perky). The reason for this is that coffee, while composed primarily of water, has an active ingredient—caffeine—that causes the body to produce more urine. Indeed, caffeine is a (heaven-sent) stimulant that falls into a category of drugs known as diuretics…and a standard cup of coffee contains significant amounts of the stuff. (For obvious reasons, decaffeinated coffee is unlikely to have the same make-you-pee-more effect.)

Why Does Coffee Make You Pee (and What Is a Diuretic, Anyway)?

As previously mentioned, the caffeine in coffee is a diuretic, which means it makes you pee more. How does it do this, you ask? Dr. Quayle explains: “Diuretics are a class of drugs that increase the flow of urine…by removing sodium and chloride from the body in the urine. The sodium and chloride, in turn, draw excess water from the body [and] this presents as an increase in urine volume.” In other words, caffeine inhibits sodium reabsorption in the body and the result is more pee.

The diuretic action of caffeine described above is the main reason that coffee will send you to the bathroom more than usual, but it’s not the only reason. Per Dr. Quayle, the stimulant properties of caffeine are also thought to irritate the bladder, causing it to contract—and, since the bladder is already full from the diuretic effect, these contractions create a sense of urgency (i.e., you’ve gotta pee right away).

Other Natural Diuretics

Whether you value coffee for its diuretic effect (goodbye bloat!) or find it to be a nuisance, you might be interested to know that it’s not the only natural diuretic around. Here are a few others you might have in your pantry.

Parsley

Parsley tea has been used as a pee-inducing (and kidney stone preventing) elixir in folk medicine, and this 2002 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology concludes that the common herb does indeed have a diuretic effect…on rats, at least. Still, it’s unlikely that you’ll end up running for the toilet after garnishing your food with a sprinkling of the stuff. As such, a strong cup of parsley tea is probably your best bet if you’re looking for a non-caffeinated diuretic.

Caraway

These highly aromatic, anise-flavored seeds have plenty of culinary uses, and a 2019 study published in Natural Products and Bioprospecting found that aqueous caraway fruit extract had potent diuretic effects, too. It’s worth noting, though, that you’d need to take caraway extract to feel these effects, so don’t expect your rye toast to work like a water pill.

Dandelion

Dandelion has long been used as a diuretic in folk medicine and preliminary research—like this 2009 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine—suggest it may indeed make you pee more, though more research is needed to say for sure.

Black and Green Tea

Both black and green teas have a mild diuretic effect due to their natural caffeine content. That said, they have less caffeine than coffee, which means they aren’t as effective at waking you up or making you pee more.

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