While doing some research into which drinks are best for singers, I realized that the majority of people still stubbornly cling to a myth that has been all but debunked. If there’s one thing that the blog posts and “expert” opinions about throat health have in common, it is the advice that singers should avoid caffeine at all costs. This is because, they assert, caffeine causes dehydration. Thing is, it doesn’t. Let me say that again to all the two-cups-a-dayers and coffee-house crooners who previously thought they had to kick their habit for the sake of their singing careers: there is no research that suggests drinking caffeinated beverages in moderation can dehydrate you.
On the contrary, a number of studies* have demonstrated that caffeinated beverages are just about as diuretic as water. That means you expel about as much liquid, drinking coffee, as you would drinking the same amount of water. Caffeinated drinks are even up to the task of effectively rehydrating you. Some of you may be wondering what “moderation” means. Well, the big guys in the white coats say about four cups of coffee per day—more than enough to satiate even the most diehard espresso enthusiasts. So rest easy, and check “Frappuccino” off the list of factors that stand between you and that Grammy. Cheers!
*If you’re stubborn like me, you’ll want some scientific proof. Here, read these:
Armstrong LE, Casa DJ, Maresh CM, Ganio MS. Caffeine, fluid-electrolyte balance, temperature regulation, and exercise-heat tolerance. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2007;35(3):135-40.
Millard-Stafford ML, Cureton KJ, Wingo JE, Trilk J, Warren GL, Buyckx M. Hydration during exercise in warm, humid conditions: effect of a caffeinated sports drink. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2007;17(2):163-77.
Bird ET, Parker BD, Kim HS, Coffield KS. Caffeine ingestion and lower urinary tract symptoms in healthy volunteers. Neurourol Urodyn. 2005;24(7):611-5.
Armstrong LE, Pumerantz AC, Roti MW, Judelson DA, Watson G, Dias JC, Sokmen B, Casa DJ, Maresh CM, Lieberman H, Kellogg M. Fluid, electrolyte, and renal indices of hydration during 11 days of controlled caffeine consumption. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2005;15(3):252-65.
Fiala KA, Casa DJ, Roti MW. Rehydration with a caffeinated beverage during the nonexercise periods of 3 consecutive days of 2-a-day practices. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2004;14(4):419-29.
Edit: It occurred to me today that I should point out that I am not saying that there might not be something else in select caffeinated beverages that could irritate the throat. It is possible that higher acidity coffees might not be excellent for your vocal folds just before a performance. I just wanted to drive home the fact that caffeine itself is not what is doing the irritating.