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Drinking Habits to Avoid If You Want to Lose Weight, Say Dietitians

These sneaky habits could be the real reason the scale won't budge.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

If you're trying to lose weight, chances are you've scrutinized virtually everything that crosses your plate, from your portion sizes to the condiments you're using to top those foods.

However, what many people fail to consider is how much their choice of beverages can affect their daily caloric intake—and their weight. If you want to slim down and keep those pounds off, read on to discover the drinking habits you need to stop now, according to registered dietitians. And if you kickstart your weight loss, check out these 15 Underrated Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work.

Drinking sweetened tea

young woman drinking iced tea
Shutterstock / Dragon Images

While drinking some herbal or black tea with no added milk or sugar can be a satisfying way to shake up your beverage routine, those sweetened iced teas you get at the store could be the reason you're struggling to lose weight.

"A 16-ounce bottle of sweetened iced tea contains anywhere from 200 to 450 calories, according to a research study published in Food Sciences & Nutrition," says Courtney D'Angelo, MS, RD, author at Fit Healthy Momma, who notes that bubble tea often has even more calories and sugar (often in the form of high-fructose corn syrup) than your average iced tea beverage. "Any type of drink that is high in sugar will tend to cause weight gain," D'Angelo adds.

If you want to make smarter choices in the grocery store, check out The Best & Worst Teas in America in 2021—Ranked!

Drinking flavored coffees


While the return of pumpkin spice lattes may have you eager to make a trip to your favorite coffeehouse, doing so may be wreaking havoc on your weight loss efforts.

"A medium-sized PSL has 390 calories and 50 grams of sugar! It's perfectly fine to drink as a treat in moderation, but if you are drinking one every day during the fall season, it may be better to consider brewing your own coffee or espresso at home and add a low-fat milk instead and some spices instead," says Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist and national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Drinking enhanced "waters"

african american woman in sportswear with energy drink in gym

Just because a drink has "water" in the name doesn't mean it's low-calorie—or healthy.

"Whether you're feeling sick or feeling like you need a dose of something healthy, you might be lured into buying a water loaded with vitamins, but they typically pack mostly sugar, and you can get these vitamins from real food," explains Ehsani.

Drinking sports drinks

sports drink

No matter how grueling you consider your workout to be, odds are you don't actually need a sports drink to refuel afterward.

"Traditional sports drinks typically contain added sugar, artificial dyes, and other additives that contribute to inflammation and weight gain," says Gina Jones, MS, LDN, RDN, founder of the INW Center. "Most people over consume these drinks not realizing that these are meant for intense exertion and sweating and not for regular daily use."

Drinking fruit juice

Woman drinking juice while looking through a window.

Fruit juice is often touted as a healthy drink, and juice cleanses have made it seem downright weight-loss-friendly—but experts say otherwise.

"Most conventional juices are loaded with sugar," says Angela Houlie, MS, RDN, CDN, founder and owner of My Fruitful Body Nutrition, PLLC. "Excess sugar the body does not immediately use for energy is stored as fat in the body, contributing to unwanted weight gain," Houlie adds.

Drinking low-protein smoothies

young woman pouring smoothie from blender into cup

If you're reaching for a snack mere hours after breakfast, your low-protein smoothies could be to blame.

"Smoothies made with several fruits and without a protein source can be high in calories and leave you feeling hungry," says Sarah Williams, MS, RD, founder of Sweet Balance Nutrition.

"If making smoothies at home, make sure to include a protein source like Greek yogurt, kefir, or protein powder to create a balanced smoothie that will help you feel satisfied and stay full longer," recommends Williams.

If you're looking to satisfy your sweet tooth and slim down, check out The 25 Best-Ever Weight Loss Smoothies.

Regularly drinking alcohol

drinking beer

It's all too easy for a single drink to turn into many more—and that can easily lead to weight gain over time.

"Having two drinks per night can add anywhere from 200 to 500-plus calories to your day depending on the type of drink," says Williams, who recommends opting for light beers, dry wines, and seltzers and drinking one alcoholic beverage a few times a week instead of every night.

Not drinking enough water

drinking water

It's not always what you're drinking too much of that can hinder your weight loss efforts or lead to weight gain.

"Drink more water!" says Zoë Schroeder, MS, RDN, CSCS. "Most of my clients start out not drinking enough water and it truly makes such a difference for energy levels, hunger, and performance in the gym. Replacing most of your beverages, specifically soda, energy drinks, sweetened iced tea, lemonade, fruit juice, etc., with water will drastically improve your weight loss!"

For more incentive to refill that glass, check out What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Drinking Water, and for the latest weight loss tips sent to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter!

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more about Sarah