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Does Caffeinated Water Actually Do Anything?

As in, can caffeinated water send me onto a psychological high-speed roller coaster of anxiety and despair in the same way as coffee does? Technically, yes.

So, caffeinated water exists. It comes in fun-flavored seltzer versions, but it’s also available in just… water form. Considering how stupidly simple it is, it’s hard to call it a gimmick. But does it actually work?

Well, yeah! It’s caffeine! Drink it, eat it, boof it, mainline it — if caffeine enters your body, it’s going to have some biological effect. But it might not affect you quiiiiite like a cup of coffee does. 

I, for one, can feel my damn bowels move if I just smell coffee. Like Pavlov’s dogs, I’ve become subconsciously tied to the coffee experience. It’s not just the caffeine of the coffee that wakes me up, but the associations and expectations I have with coffee. Because caffeinated water lacks those associations, you might not experience the caffeine rush the same way you do with coffee. Similarly, if you’re used to loading up your coffee with sugar or drinking energy drinks, you might also be used to having a sugar high alongside the caffeine rush. Naturally, sugar-free caffeinated water won’t provide that. 

More importantly, though, caffeinated water can vary in its dosage. The average 8-ounce cup of coffee contains 95 milligrams of caffeine. One brand of caffeinated water, Water Joe, contains 70 milligrams of caffeine per 20-ounce bottle. Another brand, Hint, contains 60 milligrams of caffeine per 16-ounce bottle. Dosage, as well as the speed at which you consume it, will all impact how caffeinated you feel. 

In other words, the only real benefits of caffeinated water are a matter of preference. Because caffeine is itself a diuretic, caffeinated water isn’t necessarily more hydrating than coffee. Further, despite popular belief, coffee isn’t even dehydrating. While the caffeine does pull more water from your body, this is usually offset by the fact that coffee is made of water. Considering that caffeinated water is typically intended to be consumed at a larger volume than coffee, it will probably make you have to pee more. You also probably wouldn’t want to replace all your regular water intake with a caffeinated version, just as you shouldn’t replace your regular water intake with coffee

The intended market for caffeinated water seems to be people who aren’t craving coffee or a sweet beverage but still want a boost. In that case, caffeinated water might definitely hit the spot. It’s not an inherently better or smarter choice than an unsweetened iced tea or similarly low-cal coffee alternatives, but surely it serves a purpose for someone. It’s not like being addicted to bean juice is really any less weird.