Food may not be your biggest foe in your battle with belly fat—it may be fluids. What you drink and just how much affects the total number of calories you consume. And those calories can sneak up on you since most people who count calories only count solid food calories. So, recognizing and adjusting your drinking habits to reduce calories can jumpstart your weight loss.
Think about this: The average American consumes about 22% of her daily calories from liquids. So, let's say you eat an average of 2,400 calories per day (a conservative number since some studies suggest the average is 3,000, others say up to 3,600!). That's 528 calories that you might make a serious dent in by eliminating sugary beverages from your daily routine.
Make it personal: keep track of all the liquids you consume in a typical day and tally up the calories to see just how many you can eliminate to jumpstart your weight loss. Adopting the following healthy drinking habits will help.
Read on, and for more on how to eat healthy, don't miss Eating Habits to Lose Abdominal Fat As You Age, Say Dietitians.
Blend weight-loss smoothies
Making a habit of drinking a smoothie as a meal replacement is another way to sip your way to a leaner body. But you have to make it right. Many people don't. They blend smoothies that are so high in calories and even sugars that they are counterproductive to weight loss, say dietitians.
To ensure that your smoothies are truly designed for filling you up and not out, make sure it has enough protein and fiber, ideally 20 grams of protein and at least 5 grams of fiber, advises registered dietitian nutritionist Elise Harlow, RDN, owner of The Flourished Table. "If these nutrients are overlooked, your smoothie can cause a significant increase in your blood sugar and leave you feeling hungry shortly after," she says.
READ MORE: The 25 Best-Ever Weight Loss Smoothies
Skip the diet sodas
"Artificial sweeteners have been a controversial food product for years," says Trista Best, RD, a registered dietitian at Balance One Supplements. "The concern is whether the calorie reduction in our foods is worth the potential side effects, ranging from gas and bloating to gastrointestinal irritation to potentially being cancer-promoting." What's more, the common artificial sweetener sucralose reduces the healthy bacteria in the gut, which makes gastrointestinal irritation more likely and may contribute to weight gain.
Drown out other drinks
By having a water goal for the day, you'll be more likely to avoid fluids that are high in calories. "A good rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in ounces of calorie-free fluid every day," says Samantha Presicci, RD, a nutritionist at FOND Bone Broth. "And I always recommend electrolytes to help assist that hydration and help your body better utilize and absorb the water you're drinking."
Also, the more fluid you consume, the less food you tend to eat. Studies have shown that people who drink glasses of water before a meal, end up reducing their calorie intake at the meal and during the rest of the day.
Switch to green tea
All unsweetened teas are excellent beverages choices, but one may be particularly powerful in jumpstarting your weight loss: green tea. "Japanese researchers found that levels of special antioxidants called polymerized polyphenols found in green tea inhibit the body's ability to absorb fat by as much as 20%," says Kelly Choi, author of The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse. Both green and white tea also contain certain plant compounds called catechins like epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that have been shown in studies to drive weight loss and abdominal fat loss when consumed regularly, she says.
What's more, these teas contain caffeine. An analysis of studies published in the International Journal of Obesity, showed that the combination of EGCG and caffeine may be responsible for boosting metabolism by 5%.
Now that you have your drinking habits under control, check out these Eating Habits to Lose Abdominal Fat As You Age.