Are You Dehydrated? Or: More Pointless Studies


Today in pointless scientific research: Runner’s World is reporting on a recent study done on hydration levels that suggests that (wait for it)…your thirst level in the morning can tell you that you’re thirsty!

I know, I know–it’s shocking, right? Who would have thought that if you’re thirsty, you’re probably thirsty?!

Okay, yes, I’m being a little sarcastic here. But that’s only because I’m getting sick of these studies that tell us something that we pretty much already know. A couple of the “Thanks, Captain Obvious!” conclusions to come from this particular study:

When the subjects didn’t drink, they lost about 2% of their normal weight. It also caused subjects to rate their thirst as a “7,” equivalent to “very thirsty.” On mornings when they were normally hydrated, they chose “2” as their thirst rating.

The research team also measured urine volume of the hydrated or dehydrated runners after they drank varying amounts of water. The dehydrated runners always produced less volume.

Come on. Does the University of Connecticut have nothing better to spend its money on? Runner’s World points out that this has important implications for endurance athletes, since performance begins to suffer once a person is more than 2% dehydrated. But I’m just not convinced that this study was worth the time or the effort. I know that studies like this can sometimes be the first step in more in-depth research protocols, but even that’s not going to change my mind here. I don’t think we needed an official scientific study done in order to determine that drinking more water makes you pee more, or that feeling thirsty means that you are, in fact, thirsty.

To make things worse (or at least a bit more eye-roll-inducing), this is yet another study in which the group being tested is small and specific: in this case, 29 college-aged men. And although this isn’t an exercise study, I think it’s relatively safe to assume that given the nature of the testing, these were relatively fit guys. What if you’re female, older, or out of shape? What then? We may never know, but I’m going to hazard a guess–if you wake up thirsty, chances are you’re thirsty. Go drink some water. You’ll be surprised at how well it works!

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Emilie Littlehales