Why Sparkling Water Doesn’t Feel as Thirst-Quenching

Woman drinking sparkling water

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Some people have noticed an interesting phenomena when drinking sparkling water: it doesn’t feel like it’s quenching their thirst quite as well as flat water. Even after chugging a full can of LaCroix, somehow, you still feel thirsty.

Why doesn’t sparkling water feel like it’s quenching your thirst? After all, it’s essentially the same beverage with a bit of CO2 added. Let’s get one thing straight first: Sparkling water does hydrate our bodies as well as flat water, and that’s been backed up by science.

Sparkling Water Hydrates as Well as Regular Water

It’s true — medical professionals consider sparkling water to be just as hydrating as flat water. It contains the same amount of the water, and the carbonation has little effect on its absorption into your body.

In one study, researchers investigated the hydrating properties of 13 beverages. They measured the volume of urine that participants produced as a result of each drink. The researchers found that sparkling water was equally hydrating as flat water.

Some of the minerals found in natural sparkling water can even contribute to faster recovery after dehydrating exercise. These minerals include sodium, potassium, and calcium. So, while it may not feel like sparkling water is quenching your thirst, it definitely is hydrating you.

Woman drinking water

Why Sparkling Water May Not Feel Like it Quenches Your Thirst

There must be a disconnect between what we feel and the reality occurring within our bodies. Why are our brains tricking us into feeling like sparkling water is not hydrating? There are a few simple explanations for why you still feel thirsty after downing a couple cans of Bubly.

1. You Are Accustomed to Quenching Your Thirst with Flat Water

The most likely reason is because you associate the feeling of hydration with the taste and mouthfeel of flat water.

Even unflavored sparkling water will taste different from flat water. That’s because it contains carbonic acid – which may taste sour or bitter. Additionally, its bubbly mouthfeel may not provide the same satisfaction you seek when hydrating with flat water.

And since it is acidic, sparkling water may also contribute to dry mouth, which may also contribute to the feeling that it is less hydrating.

Psychologically, it makes sense that we would associate flat water with hydration more than other beverages. This could subconsciously impact the way we feel when drinking sparkling water. It doesn’t taste or feel quite the same.

We at SipTrend have found that those who frequently drink sparkling water are more likely to report it satiates their thirst. If you are less accustomed to it, it may not feel like it’s hydrating you — even if it is.

2. You May Not Have Consumed Enough Sparkling Water

Studies have shown that sparkling water can contribute to feelings of fullness. This is a result of the carbon dioxide gas that provides its bubbles. This is good news for those trying to curb their appetite, but might not be as beneficial to those simply looking to rehydrate.

When you drink sparking water, your stomach might feel fuller than it would with flat water. This may cause you to stop drinking it sooner, causing you to feel a lack of hydration.

Additionally, many of us tend to slowly sip and enjoy sparkling water. Its carbonation can certainly make it difficult to chug or drink quickly. While it does hydrate us, savoring it slowly may not provide the same thirst-quenching satisfaction that gulping down a glass of flat water can.

On the other hand, some people who struggle to drink enough water may benefit from sparkling water. If you enjoy it more, you’ll likely drink more of it, resulting in increased hydration.

3. Our Bodies Absorb Sparkling Water at a Marginally Slower Rate

We know that sparkling water hydrates us as well as sparkling water. However, its absorption into our bodies may happen a tiny bit more slowly as a result of the beverage’s carbonation.

When you drink water – flat or sparkling – your body needs to prepare it for absorption by your intestines. This starts with your body working to release the carbon dioxide gas from the sparkling water. That means it may take a marginally longer time for your body to absorb. The carbon dioxide gas may lead to bloating for some people, but your body will typically expel it in the form of burping or flatulence.

Note that the difference in rate of absorption between flat and sparkling water is negligible and unlikely to be noticed. Overall, the same volume of sparkling water and flat water will result in the same degree of hydration.

Coca-Cola cans on ice

Do All Carbonated Beverages Hydrate You?

Have you noticed that some other carbonated beverages do not feel as thirst-quenching as water? Certain beverages do not allow you to retain fluid for as long. Soda and other sugary drinks are notably worse hydrators than water.

Sure, soda spends a little more time in your stomach. It even empties more slowly from your body when compared to regular water. However, after entering your small intestine, your body needs to dilute the excessive sugar in the beverage. It pulls water from elsewhere in your body, causing a dehydrating effect.

You may be surprised to learn that water is not the most hydrating beverage you can drink. A hydration study from St. Andrew’s University in Scotland determined that ORS (oral rehydration solution), milk and orange juice are top performers when it comes to hydration. These fluids are better retained by your body over a period of time than water or sparkling water.

Can Sparkling Water Make You Thirstier?

While sparkling water is as hydrating as flat water, you may find that it paradoxically makes you feel thirsty. There are a couple potential explanations for why you feel like you’re even more thirsty after drinking sparkling water.

  • Some sparkling water contains added sodium bicarbonate: Manufacturers sometimes add sodium bicarbonate to sparkling water to counteract the acidic flavor brought on by carbonic acid. While they typically add it in very small quantities, added sodium has the potential to make you feel like your thirst is not being quenched as well as it could be.
  • Enjoyment may compel you to drink more: Many of us love sparkling water. It may not be that you are thirstier after drinking it, but that you have an urge to drink more because you like it. Fortunately, the health impacts of sparkling water are minimal, so it’s okay to drink up. However, be mindful of your oral health as sparkling water is mildly erosive.