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Myth Busting Series Part IV

This week we take on busting the vocal myth between caffeine and your voice.

True or false?

Caffeinated beverages are just as good as non-caffeinated beverages for supporting good hydration.

The answer is...true*.

*…with a few caveats.

For years, singers have been advised that caffeine is a diuretic, can dry out the throat, and singers should avoid it. It’s true that caffeine is a diuretic, but what does the evidence say about caffeine and hydration?

Killer et al (2014) conducted a study in which 50 male habitual coffee drinkers were divided into two groups. Both groups were matched for physical activity, food and fluid intake over 3 days. One group drank 800 mg of coffee per day and the other group drank the same amount of water. They measured a variety of hematological (blood) and urinary markers of hydration between the groups and found no significant differences. The authors stated:

“These data suggest that coffee, when consumed in moderation by caffeine habituated males provides similar hydrating qualities to water.”


OK, but the Killer study didn’t factor in voice. Should the recommendations be different for vocal athletes? Franca et al. (2013) found that consuming 100 mg of caffeine didn’t impact vocal acoustics (sound) or aerodynamics (air pressure and air flow with voicing). 100 mg is about the amount of caffeine in one cup of coffee. What about singers who drink more than that? Erickson-Levendoski & Sivasankar (2011) had two groups of people with healthy voices consume either coffee with 480 mg of caffeine or decaf coffee and then took measures of voice function before and after a vocal loading activity (35 minutes of reading aloud or singing). They found no significant differences in voice measures between the caffeine and sham groups. They concluded that caffeine did not adversely affect voice production or exacerbate the effects of vocal loading. 

So, coffee lovers, rejoice! For singers whose voices are functioning well, you can down that second cappuccino guilt-free. 

But wait, here are the caveats: 
Coffee or other caffeinated beverages can have a negative impact on some medical conditions, such as anxiety, acid reflux, or heart conditions. As with any vocal health recommendation, it’s important to consider the individual. 
Inadequate overall fluid consumption can still negatively affect the voice (more on that in a later newsletter…)

Singers who are having problems with their voices should explore all possible contributing factors with their medical vocal health team, including caffeine consumption. 

Tune in next week for more facts and fiction when we explore this question: 

True or False:
The healthiest way to use your speaking voice is to try to speak at a higher pitch. 

Tune in next week to find the answer…

Stay  fab-brew-lous,
Your SonoVoice Team

Next Week: Myth Busting Part V

You are a vocal athlete!

Athletes put superhuman demands on the human body. They practice to stay in shape, get better and prepare for the event. No athlete expects to perform at their best without working on their technique, practicing skills, and preparing for the game. 

The same goes for you as a vocal athlete. Practice will help you be prepared for your event: performance. Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut! If you want to be at your best as a singer, you’ll need to establish a regular vocal exercise and practice regimen.

In our weekly Vocal Fitness Friday email, SonoVoice's team of experts in science-based voice training  will be sharing information about how the voice works, tips on keeping your voice healthy, and ideas for vocal exercises for peak vocal fitness.