You Asked: Do Drinks Like Coffee, Tea or Diet Soda Count toward My Daily Water Quota?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
A few decades ago, Americans consumed less than 10% of their daily calories in the form of drinks, but today we get 21% of our calories from beverages. For someone eating 2,000 calories a day, that's 420 calories a day in the form of drinks!
When you're trying to lose weight, you have fewer calories in your "budget" each day, which means you need to make all of them count. Those "empty" calories from sugary beverages are an easy place to cut back.
That said, one of the most common questions new SparkPeople members have is "Do drinks like coffee, tea or diet soda count toward my daily water quota?"
SparkPeople recommends eight to twelve cups of water daily, but for some people, drinking that much water can be difficult. Fruit juices, milk, teas and decaf coffee also count, as do flavored (unsweetened) waters, carbonated water, and water with fruit or herbs. So, yes, you can drink beverages other than water to meet your hydration needs, but there are a few things to consider before you start sipping.
Caffeinated beverages can actually increase your need for more water and dehydrate the body (caffeine is a diuretic) so a lot of caffeinated coffee or soda will not quench your thirst.
Artificially sweetened drinks, including diet sodas, can also count toward your quota. However, we recommend no more than four servings (32 ounces) of artificially sweetened beverages daily.
If you struggle to control your sweet tooth, you might want to avoid diet drinks. Preliminary studies suggest that high intakes of artificial sweeteners might affect appetite control (i.e. by eating more sweet foods—artificially sweetened or not—you crave more of them). Individuals who want to use artificial sweeteners should do so within the context of a sensible weight-management program that includes a balanced diet and regular exercise.
My personal opinion, particularly for people trying to lose weight, is to drink plain water whenever possible. I feel it helps to cleanse the body when weight loss and fat breakdown is occurring. I also know that it helps to keep the hands and mouth busy, to reduce the urge to snack. This is a form of behavior modification that can help break old habits (such as mindless eating) and replace them with ones (drinking water when boredom hits). Most people report feeling better when they consume at least a few glasses of plain old H2O each day. If you're going to consume caffeinated beverages or diet drinks, consume as much or more water to balance them out.
Other caloric beverages, such as juice, sports drinks, and milk, can be part of a healthy diet. SparkPeople uses the guidelines set by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which were developed by the Beverage Guidance Panel in 2006. The experts on that panel stressed that a healthy diet should NOT rely on fluids to provide calorie or nutrient needs, and that water is necessary for metabolism and normal physiological function. In fact, water is the only fluid that the body truly needs.

Healthy Beverage Guidelines for Adults
  • Consume 12 cups (96 ounces) of fluids per day.
  • For an adult on the standard 2,200-calorie diet, no more than 200-300 calories should come from fluids.
  • Adults consuming fewer than 2,200 calories should limit calorie-containing beverages even more—to less than 200 calories daily.
Use the following guidelines to evaluate your own beverage intake.
Beverage Nutritional Benefits/Warnings Recommended Daily Consumption Calories per Serving
Water When eating a healthy diet, water can meet all of your fluid needs. This is the ideal choice and what SparkPeople also encourages! 2-6 servings
(16-48 ounces) SparkPeople recommends 8 cups of water daily * NOTE: Consume additional water if you limit other beverages.
Unsweetened Coffee and Unsweetened Teas Coffee has some limited health benefits, while tea provides a variety of flavonoids and antioxidants. Both contain caffeine, which should be limited to less than 400 milligrams daily (or less than 300 mg for pregnant and breastfeeding women). Up to 6 servings
(48 ounces)
Low-Fat (1%) or Skim (fat-free) Milk and Unsweetened/Fortified Non-Dairy Milks

Milk is an important source of calcium, magnesium and potassium. Through fortification, it is also a good source of vitamin D. Fortified non-dairy milks are good alternatives with many of the same benefits. <2 servings
(0-16 ounces)
Non-Caloric, Artificially-Sweetened Beverages (Diet Soda, Diet Drinks, and Artificially-Sweetened Drinks, Teas and Coffees)

Although the Food & Drug Administration has approved non-caloric sweeteners as safe, some studies suggest that diet drinks condition adults to have a higher preference for sweets. These teas and coffees also contain caffeine. (See above for guidelines.) <4 servings
(<32 ounces)
Caloric Beverages with Some Nutritional Benefits Nutritional Benefits/Warnings Recommended Daily Consumption Calories per Serving
100% Fruit & Vegetable Juices and Smoothies These provide nutrients in their natural state but lack fiber and some of the nutrients that are found in whole fruits and vegetables, which should be eaten for satiety and caloric balance. <1 serving
(8 ounces)
Sports Drinks These are designed to replace electrolyte (sodium, chloride, and potassium) levels that are diminished during endurance events For the Average Person: Drink rarely
For Endurance Athletic Events (strenuous activity that lasts over 90 minutes): Up to 2 servings (16 ounces)
Whole Milk and 2% Milk These drinks contain a significant amount of calories, fat, and saturated fat, so they are not recommended. Not recommended 120-160
Sweetened or Flavored Low-Fat Milk Such beverages contain the same nutrients as low-fat dairy products (Level 3) but have more calories due to the added sweeteners. Very rarely 150-160
Alcoholic Beverages When consumed in moderation, alcohol has some health benefits for adults, including reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and gallstones. Moderate intake of alcoholic beverages has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, while excessive alcohol consumption causes serious health and social problems. Pregnant women should NOT drink alcoholic beverages due to the increased risk of birth defects. for Women: 0-1 serving
for Men: 0-2 servings
One serving is: 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits
Caloric, Sweetened Beverages without Nutritional Benefits (Soft drinks, fruit drinks, fruit punch, fruit cocktail, fruit aid, and caloric/sweetened teas and coffees) none 0-1 serving (8 ounces)

Learn more about how much water you need:
Water is a Secret Ingredient
12 Tips to Drink 8 Cups a Day
Healthy Beverage Guidelines

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KATHYJO56 11/16/2018
Thanks Report
GEMINI_0529 9/24/2018
As an emotional eater, trying to balance water with what I eat may be the first step I need towards changing my habits! Report
CHERYLHURT 8/31/2018
Thanks Report
BLUESKY104 7/9/2018
Great article - it makes me realize that I have been getting my 8+ cups all along because of the non-sweetened tea I like to drink along with my plain water Report
AQUAGIRL08 6/12/2018
Thank you for the information! Report
Thanks Report
ADLINS 5/29/2018
I started drinking seltzer (carbonated) water in an effort to reduce my soda intake and have been successful. When I REALLY stressed, I back track a bit, but my water is still up. When I started the seltzer water, I made a decision to not count my tea or soda toward my water intake, but I do count the seltzer water. Most days I make the water count, but again, when stressed..... Report
GEORGE815 5/24/2018
Nice article Report
JSTETSER 5/23/2018
I've been wondering about this. Thanks! Report
helpful information--thanks! Report
KHALIA2 5/4/2018
Great info! Thanks! Report
JAMER123 4/21/2018
Thanks for the information. I am a drinker of noncaloric different waters and coffee. I rather under post what I rally drink. On average it's 12-14 but frequently more. Report
DJ4HEALTH 4/15/2018
thanks Report
-POOKIE- 4/4/2018
I think a lot of people wouldn't agree with the milk recommendations. Skimmed milk ends up needing artificial fortification as it's so empty of nutrients.... does that not seem wrong? 2% or semi skimmed are a great compromise between fat calories and getting the actual nutrients it contains. Report
Very informative. I drink water, coffee (no sweetener) and no-sugar Ice tea in the summer Report
FISHGUT3 3/22/2018
thanks Report
ROBBIEY 3/2/2018
I usually drink water, tea and coffee Report
CKOUDSI617 2/12/2018
I love fruit infused seltzer. I also like cucumber and mint in my water. Report
SLYDE-GLYDER 2/12/2018
Ok, the way I read this is; drink what you want and count it as you please. But let's face it, that's been part of the problem. We, individually need to make decisions that make improvements in our diets. Yes one can survive with a large coffee and 2 cokes a day, or nothing but black coffee for years. Are there ramifications? Yes. More water than you once did will be better for you, but counting anything as water is foolish. It's like counting a Big Mac as a salad. Report
GOLFGMA 2/5/2018
Love decaf coffee and teas! Report
KATHRYNGC 2/5/2018
Most of my intake is organic teas especially greens and herbals. No adding sweetener of any kind.After using it hot, leave the bags in cup when adding water to flavor just a wee bit. Non-homogenized skim milk. Very seldom fruit juice due to rather eat the fruit. My vice will be an occasional rootbeer. So guess am doing OK in this section of my eating. Report
HEDSTS58 2/5/2018
This article needs to be updated. 2% and whole milk are fine. This article still promotes the low-fat diet which we now know was all wrong. Just watch the intake Report
Caffeine is not going to dehydrate you. That is old/outdated information. According to the mayo clinic it doesn't actually do that, it only acts as a mild diuretic in that it makes you feel like you need to go, but not actually dehydrating you. https://
MNABOY 1/23/2018
Thanks for the clarification. Report
MSROZZIE 1/16/2018
Excellent article. Lots of valuable information! Report
AMYRCMK 1/3/2018
I was wondering about this for a while, thank you for the article. Report
DEE107 12/27/2017
good article Report
Thank you for this article Report
Thanks for the article! Mint tea is my go-to. Drinking plain water can make my stomach hurt. Report
Now I am way over the goal: love the taste of tap water so get my 8 cups in easily. But also have skim milk on my granola and 4 cans of Diet Coke so am 50% over the recommended . . . But enjoy every mouthful! Report
8 cups can be difficult for some to get that much if a doctor restricts you to less than what SP encourages. Report
Thanks for the article. I am a coffee drinker and cannot drink it black. I usually use only one tablespoon of creamer cause I do not drink it all the way down. I like flavored tea plain with nothing in it. I like the carbonated water better than plain water or I use the flavored mixes and add it to my water. I do not drink milk that much I usually have yogurt instead. as for whole milk that is loaded with extra calories and fat we do not need. Report
Caffeine does not dehydrate you that much at all, don't worry so much about it. I drink ice coffee, plain and black, but ice delutes it, doesn't even add up to two cups of coffee a day, keep adding ice to it. You can do tea the same way. All your liquids count, see your dietitian, don't force all that water down your throats and mess your kidneys up, Report
Great article. Report
Decaf tea is the way to go! Report
Great article. It gave me something to think about. Report
No more skim milk, folks. Full fat milk is the healthiest. Log the calories, of course. Report
i still need to drink a little more. i'm getting 10 cups, but my body needs more. Report
I drink way to much...seems nonstop. Satisfying for the moment but get over full. Need to quit always having drinks beside me Report
thanks article was helpful. I am huge coffee drinker but have really tried to switch off to just watet. Report
This article was very helpful. Report
Thanks for clearing up the Mia's that you can't Count coffee as water, I've had people say don't count anything but water, I drink my coffee every morning but first I drink a bottle of water. I've always heard that there is good benefits to drinking coffee so that we got that cleared up. Thanks for sharing.. Report
Thank you for this article. Report
I use a water app on my phone. Water is water, and I count a cup of tea (no sugar added), and coffee. Although I drink a full cup of coffee or tea, I do count them as one ounce each. Report
The dehydrating effect of coffee is a scientifically busted myth. That said, I love water and have no problem drinking my 8 cups. I've always been surprised that something that tastes so good can really be healthy. Report
They never seem to cover what I drink the most. Green a Herb teas with Stevia. I know Green tea has some caffeine in it, but it seems a lot better to drink than most drinks. I drink a class or 2 of water, but mostly green and herb teas. Report
It is SO hard for me to ONLY drink water. When I drink a lot it just makes me feel water logged, lol. I try though... Report
Drinking water used to be hard for me also. Someone suggested using a straw since the water would skip most of the tongue. That definitely helped. I don't have a problem with water any more. Infused water also helps with flavor. Report
My Dr actually told me to drink whole milk/2% as opposed to skimmed milk, so I'm not sure with SP doesn't recommend it. Report