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The Most Surprising Drink for Weight Loss, Says Dietitian

If you think it's water, you'll be surprised to learn this is a better choice.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Picking a go-to daily beverage is a critical choice to make when you are trying to lose weight and slim down. Choose a bottled smoothie, sweet iced tea, soda, juice, or other high-calorie drink and you could be swallowing hundreds of extra calories without even realizing it.

Liquid calories are stealthy. They go down so effortlessly because the body doesn't detect their calories the way it recognizes them in solid food, research suggests. As a result, the average American consumes more than 100 calories a day from soft drinks. The average adult takes in more than 100 calories daily from alcoholic beverages alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If your goal is a flatter belly before the summer ends, your drink of choice is your albatross because losing belly fat and keeping it off boils down to "a matter of creating a calorie deficit," says dietitian Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, who was a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for nine years and now hosts the nutrition website Better Is The New For more tips to help you squeeze into last summer's swimsuit, read The Best Summer Foods for Weight Loss.

The most surprising beverage for weight loss is low-fat milk.


The best flat-belly beverage to help create a calorie deficit is 1% low-fat milk, says Ward: "It's filling, and it supplies protein to keep you feeling fuller for longer, something that water or other no-calorie drinks can't do."

Your body burns more calories digesting protein than is required to process carbohydrate or fat, so milk actually negates some of the calories it adds. "Drinking three glasses of low-fat milk every day can give you a metabolic edge that helps you burn calories faster," says Ward, who is the co-author of Expect The Best: Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before During and After Pregnancy. What's more, milk is fluid and just as good as water for contributing to the 64 ounces of water per day recommended for weight loss and good health.

A bone bonus!

Milk makes sense for other health reasons: The protein, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D in milk support bone health, which is important for men as well as women as they age.

Why 1% milk is the best milk fat percentage option.

If you prefer fat-free milk, go for it, says Ward. But avoid 2% reduced-fat and whole milk, which have more calories and saturated fat. "Stick to the lower-fat versions to work toward your calorie deficit and lose weight," says Ward.

If you don't drink cow's milk, plain unsweetened soymilk that is fortified with calcium, vitamin D, and other minerals is a good choice. "Stay away from other plant milks with less than 7 grams of protein per cup," advises Ward. Remember: It's the 8 grams of protein per cup that makes 1% milk a serious weight loss-supporting beverage. For more, check out these other Ways Eating Protein can Help You Lose Weight.

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Jeff Csatari
Jeff Csatari, a contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, is responsible for editing Galvanized Media books and magazines and for advising journalism students through the Zinczenko New Media Center at Moravian University in Bethlehem, PA. Read more about Jeff
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