The 14 Best Drinks to Drive Weight Loss, According to Experts
You probably think you know what to drink to lose weight: water. Just drink water instead of all those sugary beverages, because after all, sweet drinks are the single largest source of calories in the U.S. diet, according to the National Cancer Institute. But who can only drink water all the time? We need flavor! This is why we rounded up the best drinks to have for weight loss.
So keep drinking your fill of water, the all-time top beverage for your body, but when your tastebuds scream for more, start pouring these best drinks for weight loss. We spoke with dietitians and other experts to get the scoop on the best drinks to have for weight loss. Here's what they had to say, and for some more ideas for dropping pounds and keeping them off, be sure to check out our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
Zero-calorie flavored seltzer
Look, some of us just need a daily fix of fizz with a little hint of flavor, and flavored seltzer is the best way to get it.
"Give up your 12-ounce can of cola (140 calories) for naturally flavored zero-calorie seltzer water and that can help you lose up to 14 pounds a year," says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, manager of wellness nutrition services at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute in Cleveland, Ohio.
Flaxseed milk contains no saturated fat. Instead, it contains heart-healthy plant-based omega-three fatty acids, which help tamp down hunger. A glass of flax milk makes a great between-meal snack.
"I love flax milk that has protein added to it; it's one of my go-to snacks," says Rebecca Sequin-Fowler, PhD, RD, associate director of AgriLife Research at Texas A&M University. "Look for products fortified with protein and vitamin D."
Other milk alternatives
Unsweetened nut milks and other milk alternatives like oat, hemp, and soy make good beverages for weight loss because they are lower in carbs and calories than cow's milk. Look for alt milks that don't contain the added thickener carrageenan; which can irritate the gut, says Seguin-Fowler.
"I recommend rotating a variety of alternative milks in the diet because different milks offer different nutritional benefits," she says. "This way, soymilk, which has estrogen-like effects, can be safely consumed. "Rotating milks gives you dietary diversity, and you're never getting too much of one thing."
Speaking of, here are The Best and Worst Milk & Milk Alternatives,
"Iced green tea with lemon is excellent for weight loss," says Seguin-Fowler, who now lives in the Hill Country region of Texas where sugary sweet tea reigns. Green tea contains the natural antioxidant catechin called epigallocatechin gallate. Better known as EGCG, the anti-inflammatory compound has been shown to boost metabolism and limit fat storage in your body. A study in the Journal of Nutrition demonstrated that people who drank four to five cups of green tea daily lost an average of two more pounds than non-tea drinkers.
Here are 7 Amazing Benefits of Drinking Green Tea.
Often it's not what you drink that drives weight loss but what you don't drink. Take, for example, alcohol. Beer, wine, mixed drinks can all be high in calories. And most people tend to have more than one at parties. But if you drink a club soda on ice with a slice of lime in between the adult beverages, you'll consume far fewer calories over the course of the evening. And if you gravitate toward those sweet cocktails like margaritas, making another switch can help, too.
"Swapping your margarita for a 5-ounce glass of red or white wine just three nights a week can save you up to 1,000 calories a week, or 15 pounds in one year," says Kirkpatrick.
Ginger root tea
Research suggests that gingerol, the spicey active ingredient in ginger root, may be thermogenic—meaning it triggers the body to burn more calories. A study in the journal Metabolism, found that subjects who drank ginger tea burned 43 more calories than they did when drinking plain hot water. The spice has also been shown to reduce feelings of hunger.
Take two cups of fresh diced watermelon, toss in a blender, and hit the button. Drink the pulpy juice. That's enough to take the edge off your hunger for a considerable amount of time, according to a study in the journal Nutrients. The study involved 33 overweight or obese men and women who were instructed to eat 2 cups of fresh diced watermelon daily for four weeks. During a separate four-week period, the participants were asked to eat a low-calorie cookie snack daily consisting of the same number of calories as the watermelon snack. The subjects ate and exercised normally. At the conclusion of the test, subjects reported that the desire to eat was significantly reduced for up to 90 minutes after consuming watermelon while hunger didn't change after eating the cookies.
Made from the leaves of the "red bush" plant, rooibos tea is grown exclusively in the small Cederberg region of South Africa. What makes it a winner at the Hunger Games: A flavonoid called aspalathin. According to research, the compound can reduce stress hormones that trigger hunger and fat storage and are linked to hypertension, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.
Peppermint oil with water
Researchers reporting in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that male athletes who took peppermint oil with water for 10 days improved exercise performance on a treadmill test. The study found that the oil relaxed bronchial tissues, supplying more oxygen to the brain which made the athletes able to exercise at more intense levels without getting out of breath. Exercising at higher intensities has been shown to improve weight loss, but other studies suggest the scent of peppermint reduces cravings and improves satiety, too.
"A large part of the reason that you feel full is your brain interpreting that you've smelled it and tasted it," said Dr. Alan Hirsch, a neurologist, psychiatrist and the founder of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, and author of Dr. Hirsch's Guide to Scentsational Weight Loss.
Tart cherry juice
In animal studies published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, rats were fed a high-fat diet and either freeze-dried tart cherry powder or a control diet of equal calories but without the tart cherry addition. Only those fed the tart cherries experienced a 9% reduction in abdominal fat and other markers of metabolic disease.
Did you know that tart cherry juice is one of The Healthiest Drinks to Sip Right Now, According to Dietitians?
A significant body of research has shown that protein is more hunger satisfying than both carbohydrate and fat. In other words, it helps you feel full faster and stay feeling that way longer, says Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CEO of New York Nutrition Group. So either Greek yogurt or powdered whey or plant-based protein are ideal to blend into a meal replacement smoothie. Either way, make sure your protein source doesn't contain artificial ingredients or sweeteners, Moskovitz says.
Speaking of, here's What Happens To Your Body When You Drink Protein Shakes Every Day.
Smoothies made with ice cubes
Adding ice cubes to the blender when making a smoothie adds air and water to the drink, making its texture thicker and frothier, tricking you into thinking you're consuming more than you really are.
"I like to add both ice cubes and frozen fruit together to create the perfect thick consistency," says Jessica Gavin, a certified culinary scientist.
Aloe vera water
The juice of the aloe vera plant is a good source of blood-pressure regulating magnesium and other natural minerals, antioxidant polyphenols, and enzymes. Studies suggest it can enhance insulin sensitivity to stabilize blood sugar and reduce cravings. Aloe water is gaining popularity as a low-calorie workout beverage.
"I enjoy it as a water substitute for the days when I'm tired of drinking plain water," says trainer Holly Perkins, author of the women's strength training primer Lift to Get Lean. "Because of the low carbohydrate content, aloe water is actually more hydrating than coconut water, which I've always found too sweet."
Yes, we know it's not a beverage. But soup is a liquid and one of the best liquids for driving weight loss, and it's far better than plain water.
"Don't go along with the myth that just drinking water is going to fill you up," says Barbara J. Rolls, PhD, director of the Laboratory for the Study of Human Ingestive Behavior at Penn State University. "Studies show that water consumed as a beverage empties out of your stomach very rapidly. Water in food (like soup) is much more effective in controlling hunger."
Rolls has written several weight loss books using her theory of volumetrics, the science of feeling full on fewer calories by choosing high nutrient, low-calorie density foods. If you choose a 100-calorie bowl of soup over 100 calories of cheese and crackers, you'll "get a portion that's 10 times bigger by weight," she says.
"The key to managing your weight is to find an enjoyable pattern of eating that is rich in nutrients and low in calorie density so you can have satisfying portions and control your hunger," says Rolls.
Now that you know what to drink, here are the 11 Healthy Foods That Make You Smarter, According to Doctors.