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8 Healthy Drinking Habits for Weight Loss

What you drink is just as important as when you drink.

While oft-overlooked, beverages play a significant role in a person's weight loss journey. What you drink accounts for 18 percent of the total calories you end up consuming per day, according to the USDA. That means that if you aren't keeping track of what's in your cup, you could be tacking on an additional 483 calories to your daily diet without a second thought.

It's not just important to know what you're drinking (hopefully it's the best drinks for weight loss and not the worst), but also when you're drinking. As we most often drink fluids during certain eating occasions—like alongside a meal or after a workout—we should be mindful of the subconscious drinking habits we've developed over time that are secretly contributing to weight gain. To help you on your weight loss journey, read up on these healthy drinking habits for weight loss. Read on, and for more on how to eat healthy, you won't want to miss these 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.

Don't rely on diet drinks

brunette and an blank soda can

They're lower in sugar (and more importantly, in calories), but diet drinks aren't the weight loss solution you may be hoping for. The logic is sound: switching from toxic, high-sugar sodas to zero-calorie diet soda should help you lose weight, right? According to an American Journal of Public Health study, that might not be the case.

The study found that 1 in 5 overweight and obese American adults consumes diet beverages. After analyzing dietary intake data further, researchers discovered that these overweight and obese diet soda drinkers actually consume significantly more calories per day (88 calories and 194 calories, respectively), compared to overweight sugary soda drinkers.

While the results don't prove causation (meaning we can't say that drinking diet soda causes weight gain), the researchers urge those who are looking to lose weight to not rely solely on switching from sugary soda to diet beverages but to also reduce food calorie intake.

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Throw back a couple glasses before you eat

woman drinking a glass of water

Want to shed a few pounds? A study published in the journal Obesity suggests that it may be worth throwing back a couple of glasses of water before each meal. When obese adult participants were encouraged to "preload" each of their three main meals with two glasses of water before eating, they lost an average of 9.5 pounds over the course of 12 weeks. Someone pass the watcher pitcher!

Have a protein shake before bed

Make a protein shake smoothie with hand held blender

If you're working out to lose weight, you probably already know the importance of getting more protein in your diet. However, did you know that you should not only be paying attention to the amount of protein you eat but also to when you eat (or drink) that protein? A growing body of evidence suggests that when you're exercising frequently, consuming a protein shake (or snack) before bed can actually help your muscles grow stronger and bigger than those who skip out of the pre-sleep protein. And you know what that means — because muscle uses a lot more energy than fat while at rest, the more muscle you have, the more calories you can burn.

Start your day with green tea

green tea

Whether you're looking to lengthen your lifespan or lose weight, green tea should be one of your go-to drinks. Don't just take it from us: An International Journal of Obesity meta-analysis looked at the results of 11 studies and found a significant link between drinking green tea and losing and maintaining weight loss. The researchers believe green tea's weight loss benefits can be attributed to its caffeine content and high concentration of a group of highly-potent antioxidants known as catechins.

Blend up a weight loss smoothie

Woman pouring smoothie from blender into a glass

Blend yourself up the perfect weight loss smoothie, and you may start to see the scale go down. The average American consumes 365 calories for breakfast and 597 calories for lunch. Combined, those two meals total 962 calories. If you can replace those meals with a healthy breakfast smoothie that's under 550 calories, you'll save at least 400 calories, roughly the amount of calories experts recommend you cut per day to lose weight. What exactly goes into a smoothie that helps you lose weight? A healthy dose of satiating macronutrients like protein (protein powder, Greek yogurt), fiber (spinach, flaxseeds, chia seeds), and healthy fats (nut butters, avocado), and a moderate amount of antioxidant-rich fruits and milk alternatives.

Limit your alcohol intake to less than two servings a day—and make it wine

woman pouring glass of wine

If you want to lose weight, that doesn't mean you have to swear off alcohol completely. (Although, taking a break from booze — and the calories that come with it — can definitely give your weight loss journey a jumpstart.) In fact, maintaining a moderate intake of wine may actually help you stave off weight gain in the long run. An Archives of Internal Medicine study tracked the alcohol consumption habits of over 19,000 American women for 13 years. Researchers found that when women with a healthy BMI consumed 1-2 glasses of wine per day, they actually gained less weight over the course of a decade compared to women who didn't sip alcohol at all. The authors speculate that the reason why alcohol-drinkers gained less weight over time compared to non-drinkers is that women tend to drink alcohol in place of other calories rather than in addition to. Make sure to keep that in mind if you want to pick up this drinking habit for weight loss — you'll still need to reduce your total caloric intake!

Drink enough liquids throughout the day

Black man reaching for a glass of water from his bed in the morning

One of the most important drinking habits for weight loss is to simply drink enough fluids to keep you hydrated. About 60% of your body is comprised of water, so it should come at no surprise that water is essential for several bodily functions, such as carrying nutrients to cells, regulating body temperature, and protecting your organs and tissues. And when you aren't drinking enough, you may actually be stifling your weight loss progress. Among participants in an Annals of Family Medicine study, those who were less hydrated were more likely to have a higher body mass index (BMI) compared to those who were adequately hydrated.

Start your day with a glass of water right at your bed. Have a cup of coffee with breakfast. Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day. Wind down with some herbal tea after dinner. Whatever technique you prefer, just get some fluids in you!

This Is How Much Water You Need to Drink for Weight Loss

Drink your coffee black

coffee pot pouring into two mugs

Skip over the add-in station at your local coffee shop and you'll be setting yourself up for success. Roughly 67 percent of Americans consume coffee with add-ins such as sugar, cream, and sugar substitutes, according to a Public Health study. And those add-ins come at a cost: these coffee ingredients tack on an extra 69 calories per day, with around 60 percent of these calories coming from sugar. Besides leaving the caloric add-ins out of your cuppa to help you lose weight, you should also improve your morning routine by reading up on these 9 Tricks for the Best-Ever Cup of Coffee.

Olivia Tarantino
Olivia Tarantino is the Managing Editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in nutrition, health, and food product coverage. Read more about Olivia